What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
They have worked on every part of our system. They’ve enhanced things, built things. They’ve enhanced existing systems and built some new subsystems. All of these things help us to sell more websites. If you look at the entire portfolio, there will be some aspect of Communication Crafts’ work in all of those sites.
How did Communications Crafts perform from a project management standpoint?
We communicate through email, phone, and Skype, and use project management tools.
They always go the extra mile. Bearing in mind that they’re 5 hours ahead, I could speak to them at 4 pm knowing it’s late there. I would tell them to go home but they would carry on doing the work.
They’re keen to please and sometimes I feel that they’re overambitious in terms of the speed with which they can deliver. There have been times that I’ve had to slow them down. It takes a bit longer but I don’t care. We’re striving for perfection because we have to do our best to look after the companies we support. When we introduce something new, it has to be perfect because it’s being used by all of the 500 companies that use our system. Our quality requirements are therefore probably excessive. We might be too demanding.
The volume of work that they deliver is very high because there are 2 full-time programmers working for us. At some point during the process, there have been 1-2 quality control issues with the delivery but it’s uncommon. We had frank discussions with them about it and they’ve responded with tighter controls and cross-checking. They’re concentrating on being more comprehensive in the way they test and now have a new program in force with itemized testing. So, we’ve had 1-2 hiccups but, in the scheme of things, they haven’t been severe and they reacted quickly to address calls to address the quality control issues. During normal development, there are always issues to address. They stack up favorably to any developer anywhere in the world I've ever come across.
What did you find most impressive about them?
Their commitment. They really do want to please.
Are there any areas they could improve?
No, I think they're doing just fine as they are.
Do you have any advice for potential customers?
Go into it with your eyes open. Don’t treat them like a bucket into which you throw work and expect work to come out the other end. Treat them as an extension of your team and remember that they’re working remotely. Give them a framework to work within and enough information to enable them to do the job properly. When you’ve briefed them, make very sure that they really do understand the briefing and nothing has been lost. Don’t forget that they’re working on a system they’ve never seen before. If you were recruiting a new programmer, you wouldn’t expect them to churn out a perfect code on Day 1. You would do training: it’s no different.
You'll get out of it what you put into it. The only way that outsourcing really works, in my opinion, is if you’re genuinely prepared to invest, to truly regard them as an extension to your team, and to treat them like staff members who work in a remote location. If you do that, you will get the best out of them.