Could you share any statistics, benchmarks or user feedback from this engagement?
I can say end-user feedback is 99.9 percent positive. People just love the new system, and even if they can't work on it the exact way they used to, we've been able to show them different ways of doing things. Once they can see it's just a tweak to their process, not one of our 125 members has come back and said, "I don't like this." Everyone thinks it's great.
The project team and myself worked with DCSL Software the most, and I couldn't speak highly enough about them. They made an effort to understand what it was we were trying to achieve and what we needed the outcomes to be. We put in a lot of hours, but they put in just as many hours, specifically in terms of some of the work around the data migration, which was a fairly intensive process. They've engaged with us, they've communicated with us, they talked to us, and they always come back with solutions. They've never come back and said, 'No, we can't do that.' Occasionally they come back and say, 'Yes, we can do it but it's going to cost you a lot.' So far, there has not been anything that they haven't been able to deliver.
How did DCSL Software perform from a project management standpoint?
I think to start with, I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the project planning. What that came down to in the end was, we just needed some very frank communication. It takes some time and effort to establish an effective workflow. Once we'd had that very frank conversation, and we understood each other's point of view, then things dramatically improved. It also helped us to understand their processes and how things worked at their end. It was really about understanding each other's processes and how they impacted our timetables, and once we understood that on both sides, it was fine.
On our end, we were using GanttProject, which is a free tool. DCSL were using Microsoft Project and then converting it into a GanttProject format for us. Sometimes, we just put lists and things on spreadsheets so that we could track, so nothing overly formal. I think most importantly, we're just keeping email trails and then showing that we logged conversations.
What distinguishes DCSL Software from other providers?
We worked with a guy named Domingo [Lara], who was the project leader, and he was very responsive to us. They were very good at feeding in other ideas, and that was what we were looking for, because we didn't know what the technology could do. Quite often, they came up with better ways of doing things than we had originally planned.
I quite like the way that we worked with them, in that they built a kind of an incomplete but semi-functional prototype. We were able to see how the system would operate on a basic level, how it would look, and we used that then to build the specifications. It's been very much a hands-on, agile process. They build a bit, we test it, give them feedback but, in the meantime, they're already building the second bit. They build in the changes and then we test phase two, iteration two. That worked, it was a good approach.
Is there anything DCSL Software could have improved or done differently?
I think perhaps right at the start – from both sides now, not just DCSL – being able to understand each other's processes and setting up some realistic expectations. I think that had a huge impact. Once they understood where we were coming from and what we were trying to get to, and understood a little bit about job evaluation, it made life a lot easier for them. Once we understood how certain processes worked and how testing worked at DCSL, then it was easier from our perspective. Fortunately, you only need to go through that process once and then you're set. At this point, we are very much satisfied with them. That was a long time ago.