How did Codewave perform from a project management standpoint?
I left it up to Abhijith and his project manager to organize the team at Codewave. They did have a staff change about 6 months into the project, which added a little bit of time to everything. I was worried, because we were already kind of delayed, but that was more because I wasn't ready for the detailed work. They worked hard to get a good replacement, and I think they managed it quite well.
I’m able to communicate with everyone on the Codewave team, because they’re such a small outfit. (They have only about 40 staff members, though they seem to be growing.) I don't have to go through layers of management to speak with the team members, and I have access to all of the programmers. Abhijith knows the overall plan for my project, and he has brought in some cool ideas. His wife is kind of the staff manager, and she’s also good at marketing. She gave me some ideas about how to use social media to promote my product.
Every second or third day, I would ping one of the programmers through Skype, and we built a little group. I would ask them questions there, and one of the programmers would reply and I would do a one-on-one with that programmer. I appreciated having access to all of these experts, and I think they liked it too. They weren’t used to talking directly to the customer. The web programmer, the Android programmer, the iOS programmer, and the architect were basically my main contacts during the development. Whenever we went into the next phase, I would do more with the project manager, and we would map out the next incremental piece that would get added on and get estimates for that.
We mostly used Google Drive for shared documents, including an Excel spreadsheet to track issues. They would fix an issue, then I would test it and sign off on it. We also used Skype almost every day.
What did you find most impressive about Codewave?
I liked being able to contact all of the programmers directly. I didn't have to go through the managers, which you have to do in a lot of companies. I thought that was cool, and they liked it as well. I think we developed a close relationship through their openness, and that was a unique experience from what I’ve seen so far. I think Codewave’s approach resulted in a more successful product. They also came up with ideas, and they would propose options that I hadn't thought of, and I liked that. I wanted their ideas, and I was open to hearing them.
Are there any areas Codewave could improve?
The staff change was a bit of a difficult phase, because I didn't want to lose any more time, but I think these things happen. You have fluctuations, and that was a bit challenging. Other than that, it’s hard to say what Codewave could be doing better.
Although the full project time was 10 months, which was considerably longer than projected at the outset, I appreciated the high complexity, the need to explore alternatives to overcome challenges, and the ability to steer the priorities. The team responded in a very agile way. The resulting quality is superb and exactly if not more than I originally expected.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with Codewave?
You have to be open to different cultures, and you have to be prepared to have discussions and spend more time talking, because you can only communicate so much in writing. You cannot just hand over a job and expect it to get done. You need to be prepared to get regular, weekly updates and be able to take an hour or two a week to talk to the team. You also need to clear up misunderstandings, assumptions, jargon, and unclear terms, so you’ll want to use Skype to talk to and build a relationship with them. I think the Codewave team is sincere, and they love talking to people in the West.