How did your relationship with the vendor evolve?
Five days into the project, we had a status call that showed very little progress had been done. They hadn’t shown me a complete project plan yet to go over the assigned resources, task list, or prioritization. That’s when they told me that they hadn’t written one and would need another week to do it.
The new plan listed the project at $26,000 with a six-month timeline. Some tasks would now take 17–18 days to complete. At that point, I decided to end the contract.
From there, they pressed us to give a two-week notice at an additional $2,200, which was ridiculous considering it was their error in judgment about the schedule in the first place. However, at that time, they had begun the versioning task and were midway through it.
I figured if I had to spend an additional $2,200 to get halfway through a task, then I’d rather spend a full $4,000 to just finish that section before doing a roll-off. That way, it would be a natural stopping point. The sales rep initially agreed to this but then two days later reversed his position and said we needed to terminate on the previously given two-week notice date.
Now, I spent so much money, including a two-week notice, but am only getting a half-finished product. I’m not sure if another developer can pick up from where Chetu, Inc. left off.
How did Chetu, Inc. address the challenges that arose?
Our sales rep stopped responding to me when I said that I wanted to end the project in a place that makes sense. After I requested to speak to his manager, I never heard from him again. I’ve called Chetu, Inc. four times to ask for a manager, and they’ve taken down my contact information but wouldn’t call me back. Eventually, I got the manager’s info and called/emailed him, but he never responded either.
Describe the impact this engagement has had on your business.
At the end of the day, we spent half of our budget to get a fraction of the work agreed to. We actually can’t use our platform right now because they’ve added functionality without finishing it, creating some dead ends in the workflow.
How was project management handled?
Before we started, I had an initial sales call to discuss our project. Then, I had a second call with the technical team to go over the scope of work and get price/timeline estimates.
They put together the original quote after a week, giving us an $8,000–$10,000 price point with an eight-week timeline. Some of the items on our list were estimated to take around five days each. The technical team actually said that this project size was too small for them, so they weren’t going to take our project.
However, our sales rep said that they would take the project anyway, stressing that they could kick it off immediately (which was not the case). He hounded me to sign the contract and put up an unusually large deposit upfront, which was about half of the project cost.
Apparently, they don’t scope out a proper plan until after you sign the contract, so the initial quote wasn’t legitimate.
Is there anything that the vendor did well or that you would consider a strength?
It’s hard to know for sure since the project was so difficult all the way through, but their technical team was responsive. The technical team also does a good job on daily reporting. I do believe they might have people on the team who can code well, but that doesn’t amount to anything if their project managers don’t have better business practices.
In what specific areas can they improve?
If I could sit down with their CEO, I’d tell them that their number one priority should be to write out the scope of work and have the client agree to it before development starts. That’s the industry standard, and it helps avoid situations like ours.
Had they told me that the project would cost $26,000, I might have worked with them or considered another vendor. But they wouldn’t have burned a bridge with me.
In fact, they could bill clients for the time it takes to scope out the project in detail because that documentation is a deliverable. By not doing that, they’ve basically locked their client into a four-week contract: the first two are spent building the plan, and the next two are for the roll-off. It’s a bait-and-switch that burned our bridge immediately.
What advice do you have for clients with similar needs to yours?
Getting involved with a company when they’re not confident in their own budget and timeline quote is a huge amount of risk that’s unusual in the marketplace. If you’re comfortable with that, then consider moving forward.
I’d also recommend having a manager from the start. Your salesperson will hound you nonstop when it comes to the contract or invoice, but they’ll ignore the customer service side. Having a plan in place to ensure that you’re getting what you’ve agreed to is crucial.