Bespoke Software Development

Founded in 1994, DCSL Software has grown to become one of the UK's most trusted Bespoke Software Development consultancies in the industry, dedicated to helping its clients create efficiency-driving operational software as well as products and apps for resale on a subscription basis.

As a certified Microsoft Gold Partner, ISO 9001/27001 accredited firm and officially recognised by Clutch as one of the UK’s top software consultancies, DCSL utilises its own proven software development processes for delivering successful projects, in areas such as:-

  • Business Application Development
    • Business Apps
    • Mobile Apps
    • Web Apps
    • Software and Hardware Integration
    • Database Development
    • ​CRM Systems
    • White Label Software
    • Customer Portals
  • Systems Integration
  • Professional Services
 
Undisclosed
 
$100 - $149 / hr
 
50 - 249
 Founded
1994
Show all +
London, United Kingdom
headquaters
  • DCSL Software
    88 Wood Street
    London EC2V 7RS
    United Kingdom
    +44 12 5223 5422
other locations
  • DCSL Software
    50-58 Victoria Road
    Farnborough, HAM GU14 7PG
    United Kingdom
    +44 20 3096 6199

Reviews

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Booking Systems for Private Education Provider

"With DCSL, they tell you what it’s going to be and they strive to make that happen."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Mar. 2016 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

DCSL designed and developed two booking systems for an education provider that allow users to register and apply for various sports and education programs.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Berkshire, United Kingdom
 
Verified
Feedback summary: 

Overall booking rates have greatly increased since launch. DCSL was professional, organized, and supportive. The final product exceeded expectations, and was a worthwhile investment.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

SCL is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of education through sport. Through its two core divisions - SCL Education & Training and SCL School Sport & Children's Activities - SCL offers a wide-range of engaging, forward-thinking and successful programs.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with DCSL Software?

We required B2C booking systems for our Sport and Childcare Services and our Government Endorsed Further Education Programme.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They helped complete the detailed specifications for both of the booking systems we wanted to develop. We met with them and went through the process screen by screen to create the specifications. They divided the project into a number of two-week sprints. They would develop for two weeks and then give us a user acceptance testing site for us to test. I met all of the developers that were working on our project. There were four developers, a quality assurance manager, one tester, and a project manager. The tester was excellent; she worked very closely with me.

DCSL Software developed two booking systems. For the childcare side, the user can go to the website and search for school clubs and holiday activities. When they find what they’re interested in, they can book right from our website. On the further education side of the business, it’s all done through sporting trial. The users register for a trial through the online booking system, which is the start of their application process. If they’re successful at the trial, they proceed to an interview. At the end of the process, they have a complete application for enrollment that prints out in the backend.

How did you come to work with DCSL Software?

We put out a request for proposal and we had two companies we were looking at. DCSL Software’s process and their professionalism during the specification building was much better than the other company. They gave us an idea of what the application was actually going to look like.

How much have you invested with DCSL Software?

We spent £120,000 [US$149,220] on the childcare side. On the further education side, it was £25,000 [US$31,088].

What is the status of this engagement?

We began working together in March 2016 and the work was completed January 2017. We plan to continue working with them.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

They use a software called Sifter which logs issues and bugs. We used this during and after the project. We have had a massive increase in bookings for the first holiday of this year and students booking for trial.

How did DCSL Software perform from a project management standpoint?

They are very professional. At the end of each sprint, we had a sprint review to go over what had been developed and what would be worked on in the future. They were very clear and concise. They would let me know when I didn’t need to test certain things because the development was not complete.

What did you find most impressive about DCSL Software?

They are very professional. What they tell you is what you get. A lot of companies promise the earth and don’t deliver. With DCSL, they tell you what it’s going to be and they strive to make that happen.

Are there any areas DCSL Software could improve?

There’s nothing negative about their team, and we have talked with them about future enhancements on the project.

5.0
Overall Score They’ve been very supportive and proactive all the way through the development. Any issues that we’ve had have been dealt with efficiently.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    The organization of their sprints was excellent. You knew exactly where you were throughout the whole project.
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They’re not the cheapest but if we would’ve gone with the cheapest, we wouldn’t have gotten the solution we have now.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Platform Development for Online Music Retailer

"With DCSL Software, the feeling is that we can do anything."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Apr. 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

DCSL Software was hired to modernize a legacy solution for future scaling, which includes feature design/development and ongoing support.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Brighton, United Kingdom
General Manager, GAK
 
Verified
Feedback summary: 

Highlights include flexible access to talented developers and a confident, meticulous approach when it comes to engineering client solutions.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We're a musical instrument retail business with e-commerce and brick-and-mortar outlets in Brighton, UK. We also have a mail order team focusing on the education sector. Our main business is oriented mainly at B2C [business-to-customer] sales of guitars, drums, and computer-related musical equipment. We've been in business for 20 years. I am the general manager of the company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with DCSL Software?

We owned our website, but the back-office system had been leased and maintained. We had built a stock warehousing and ordering system responsible for handling all our processing, working with a couple of developers over the years. The system was up until 3 years ago, during which time we'd been leasing it on a monthly basis. We were starting to hit some limitations with the platform and realized that we needed to get in-line with the customer experience offered by our competitors, as well as adding extra functionalities. We also wanted to own our system and have it be a bespoke business asset, so we needed a developer who could rebuild many of the functionalities we already had, make it scalable and adaptable, and much improve our customer experience on the website. Making it mobile-responsive was a big consideration.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

We initially started our project on a small scale. Our sales manager and I sat down with the lead architect from DCSL Software at the beginning of 2015, and specified everything, looking at every detail of the processes we needed, and how we could change them. After a 2-month process, we started the development and testing process.

We've worked with around 10 people from DCSL Software's team initially, including developers and testers.

How did you come to work with DCSL Software?

When we started moving away from our current supplier, I looked at the market in order to see what was available. I came across many companies that had off-the-shelf solutions for warehousing, sale order processing, and e-commerce. As while-label office solutions, while cheap, they didn't do everything that we needed them to do, required further development, and would bring us to a licensing model again. We preferred to build a bespoke system which could minimize the impact of retraining our 70+ staff on changing software.

We initially had a meeting with another London-based development house who offered similar services, but DCSL Software inspired more confidence. We visited them at their office and talked about our project with DCSL Software's managing director. It was a massive project for our company, and we needed the reassurance that it could be achieved.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started our project with DCSL Software in April 2015. We switched our site in May when the back-office portion came live. We're still within a scaled-back development phase and receive deliverables on a weekly basis. We've scaled our team down to around 4 people currently, and will keep one developer and one tester until the holiday season. We will resume development at the beginning of 2017. It was always our goal to keep the project going. Although all systems were operational after launch, we've split the project into multiple phases for changes on the back-office and frontend.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

Our turnover for mid-2016 is up 5% from what it was last year, but the real impact has been in offering us the ability to add solutions and utilities which we didn't have before, like online finance, which was a great customer offering. We developed this solution with DCSL Software in conjunction with our finance provider, who provided the APIs.

We have voucher capabilities which we didn't have before. They enabled us more freedom for offering deals and promotional opportunities. We also accept PayPal transactions, which wasn't possible previously. Our mobile conversion rate has increased by 1%, as well as the mobile traffic in general. We offer a much better user experience than we did before. DCSL Software has given us the ability to utilize these extra functions, which wasn't possible in the past due to a lack of technical backup.

We've been able to implement our product package deals in a way that wasn't possible previously. We can group 5-6 products together on the backend, and price them as one item on the website. This works well on the back-office side, because the items come in as a single order, allowing us to pick and pack them together.

Another useful feature is competitor monitoring. We can always monitor competitor's sites in terms of pricing and product listings, which is a mainstay of e-commerce currently.

We're also working with Import.io, which is a US-based third party that can scan websites. DCSL Software has built us a custom-made price comparison and monitoring utility within the back-office, which is hooked into Import.io. This has helped us stay ahead of the curve. 

How did DCSL Software perform from a project management standpoint?

We used a third-party tool recommended by DCSL Software for tracking issues, bugs, and changes, and allowing us to raise tickets. We used it quite a bit during prototyping and development. Aside from this, there was a lot of one-to-one contact with our lead architect, who managed our project and the developers. We also spent a lot of time in DCSL Software's office. Although they hadn't done this before, DCSL Software was keen to the idea, and it worked out very well. We've spent a lot of time sitting in their office next to the developers really honing our agile approach.

What did you find most impressive about DCSL Software?

We brought all the ideas to the table using a talented and experienced in-house team, but there were always technical problems with our previous supplier, not allowing us to get things done. With DCSL Software, the feeling is that we can do anything. They had a can-do attitude that was very refreshing.

Are there any areas DCSL Software could improve?

We've had a very big and fast-moving project. If we hadn't been working on-site with DCSL Software, it would have been difficult to stay abreast of all the changes happening. We were pushing to get things moving as quickly as possible and bypassed some of the testing that DCSL Software would have had, ideally. We ended up finding more bugs than would have normally occurred, as a result. If we hadn't worked with them face-to-face to such an extent, DCSL Software would have probably needed a bit more of a project management and feedback structure. I really can't fault them for this, given the pace and size of the work.

5.0
Overall Score DCSL Software has been incredibly accommodating and accessible. Their managing director was available whenever I needed to speak to him, and I had direct mobile numbers for our architect and some of the developers.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    Any time when the schedule was pushed back, it was because of us as the client.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would absolutely recommend DCSL Software.

Developed Auditing Platform for Cybersecurity Startup

“They were always trying to figure things out, providing more than just development.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Nov. 2015 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

DCSL Software helped the client develop their minimum viable product from scratch. They built the platform using C#, .NET and a Microsoft SQL server.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
London, United Kingdom
Co-Founder
 
Verified
Feedback summary: 

The client’s customers were very happy with the platform. DCSL Software’s deliverables allowed the client to focus on selling the product. DCLS was proactively involved in development and demonstrated a genuine care for the client’s success.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

We are a start-up software as a service (SaaS) provider, offering online cyber security assessment solutions.

What is your position?

I am a co-founder of the company and the chief executive officer.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with DCSL Software?

DCSL Software helped our company create our platform from scratch. We had our own ideas and designs, but they helped prototype the solution starting with a blank canvas.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement.

DCSL Software wrote the certification, architectural and security documents around our software. Through a back-and-forth process, we developed a minimum viable product and grew it from there. DCSL Software built our software using C#, .NET and a Microsoft SQL server.

We have been assigned two or three core developers and another two or three support, testing and coordination resources by DCSL Software. The head of the company has also kept a close eye on our project. We interact directly with the developers as needed. In most cases, communicating through a project lead makes more sense for us. There are cases in which we interact directly with the team through in-person meetings. This happens once every couple of weeks at the start of a sprint. Every developer that had worked on the project and had tested it will contribute.

How did you come to work with DCSL Software?

We received a few recommendations and met with those companies but also made online searches, looking for companies within our vicinity. DCSL Software came up, we contacted them and decided to visit them after going through a shortlist of questions over the phone. DCSL Software ticked all the right boxes, so we ended up choosing them. DCSL Software, unlike any other competitor, has an ISO 27001 security certification for their company. The fact that they invested the time and money necessary for obtaining this was a positive sign for us.

DCSL Software stuck out because of their morals, values and ability to communicate and handle projects. Everything was done in-house, which was a very important quality for us, especially when building a security solution. We didn’t want the work to be outsourced to unknown third parties.

Another reason for choosing DCSL Software was that their leadership became very engaged with what we were doing. We became not just another customer to them. DCSL Software was interested in how they could help and provide alternative approaches. We found this interest to be very valuable.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

I’m sorry, but that information is confidential.

What is the status of this engagement?

We have been working with them since November 2015. We maintain an ongoing engagement with DCSL Software.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics, metrics or other feedback from this engagement?

Once the software was delivered, our clients went live on the platform within a week. They were very happy with it. In terms of productivity, this is the highest possible positive feedback I could give. DCSL Software enabled me to do my job and sell my product.

How did DCSL Software perform from a project management standpoint?

We went a bit beyond the specified timeline, which was to be expected given that we came up with a few new features during the development process. DCSL Software was very flexible in working with us. Feedback and documentation are exchanged through a ticketing platform.

What distinguishes DCSL Software from other providers?

DCSL Software cared about our work, which was a big plus from my point of view. Many partners I’ve worked with recently haven’t shown signs of wanting to help or offering to work on a problem together with us. Rather than just caring about signing us up, getting an upfront deposit and doing whatever it was they were assigned to do, DCSL became proactively involved in the development of our platform. They were always trying to figure things out, providing more than just development. We felt that we were part of the same team, which is unique.

I also appreciated that DCSL Software provided a nice balance of working based on specifications, while also addressing a blank canvas using an Agile process. We both had to be flexible and figure things out. DCSL Software’s care was extended into practice. They understood that we were a startup and had budget constraints in helping us deliver a product to our clients. I have been in situations of coming to a standstill because of changes and the inability to see eye to eye with other developers. It was always easy to communicate with DCSL Software. When working with people, personalities matter more than material things.

RATINGS

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    We changed our scope, and DCSL Software was able to adapt to that change.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I have recommended DCSL Software a couple of times.

Ongoing Development for Community Nonprofit

"Developers tend to be very dry and logical people, which makes understanding them a bit hard.  But DCSL Software has been able to communicate with us easily and developed tailored solutions to match our problems."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
Project summary: 

DCSL was contracted to provide back-end development resources for several web-based projects.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
London, United Kingdom
IT & Communications Director, activeNewham
 
Verified
Feedback summary: 

activeNewham’s customers were happy with the website DCLS developed to allow membership purchases to their local centers. Work is consistently delivered on time and within budget, and on the rare occurrence of a defect, DCSL quickly resolves it. Core strengths include communication and tailored solutions.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

Our organization is a charitable trust operating leisure centers in the London borough of Newham. We also have an involvement in looking after sports development, volunteering, parks, and open spaces.

What is your position?

I am the IT [information technology] and communications director.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with DCSL Software?

We don't have an in-house development team and were looking to outsource our custom development work. We have a longstanding relationship with them, having worked together on other development projects. I contacted DCSL Software after having worked together at my previous company.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement in detail.

DCSL Software builds the solutions that we conceive of, including visual aspects and functional development. That also includes strategic work and quality assurance. All of their assigned work has been web-based, primarily back-end work, but also some design and UI/UX [user interface/user experience]. They provide us with a two- to three-man team. We interact with these developers directly.

How did you come to work with DCSL Software?

I was involved in the initial selection process for them at my previous company six years ago. I interviewed three companies in total for a £100,000 [approximately $14,000] project. DCSL Software came on top. I've preferred using them ever since.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

We spend £60,000 to £70,000 [$85,000 to $100,000] per project with DCSL Software.

What is the status of this engagement?

Our latest project went live on January 2 [2016], but we have an ongoing relationship with them.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?

They've developed a site for purchasing memberships to our local centers. Our customers have enjoyed that process. It's easy to use and well defined. We don't receive many tickets related to discovered bugs or defects. Even when a user does come across an issue, DCSL is able to resolve it extremely quickly.

How did DCSL Software perform from a project management standpoint?

Their work is always above average. DCSL Software has always delivered their work on time and within our specified budget. We kick off any project through face-to-face meetings in which we discuss wireframing and similar aspects. In the rest of the time, we communicate by email and occasionally by way of telephone calls.

What distinguishes DCSL Software from other providers?

Developers tend to be very dry and logical people, which makes understanding them a bit hard.  But DCSL Software has been able to communicate with us easily and developed tailored solutions to match our problems.

Is there anything DCSL Software could have improved or done differently?

We've never seen any shortcomings on their part. They have a very good work process. To any prospecting clients, I would suggest bringing a fully elaborated problem to DCSL Software. They will then supply a solution. Coming with a preconceived solution doesn't always work.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

RFID Solution Developed for Medical Examination Firm

“Their talent pool is fantastic… The solution they developed works almost flawlessly and our users are more than satisfied."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
Project summary: 

DCSL Software developed Intelligent Health’s custom radio-frequency identification [RFID] solution to allow better data collection and usability.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
London, United Kingdom
Managing Director, Intelligent Health
 
Verified
Feedback summary: 

The new application eliminated all system errors from its predecessor and allowed the client to collect data more efficiently. Overall, internal and user feedback has been positive. The client is especially impressed with DCSL’s ability to create quality code under a tight deadline and without detailed plans.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

We run physical activity programs across the UK, Europe, and other parts of the world. The premise is getting a whole community active. We run programs for walking, cycling, linking in with local outdoor spaces, and trying to deal with the inactivity problem that currently exists across the world.

Our linkage to technology is through an outdoor game, where RFID readers are placed around the town, and users with RFID cards, try to find the readers over an eight-week period, earning points for walking to a variety of places. We generally draw between ten and forty thousand people participating in various towns, so it's a mass event. We run 25 programs and have connected with about eighty thousand people in 2015. We've also done a program in Dubai this year, and we are planning one for New York in 2016, with their department of transportation.

The user has an online platform where they can see how much they've walked, how many points they have, giving the activity a leaderboard competition feel.

What is your position?

I'm the managing director of the company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with DCSL Software?

I joined the organization seven months ago. There were various issues and problems with the current program both from a functional and usability standpoint. It had been running for two or three years so it needed to be updated, and the way in which we collect data also needed a different approach.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement.

We collect data through RFIDs, which is translated into data points and entered into our system. The database is on a cloud platform that they developed, configured and implemented.

The number of developers they assigned was varied based on our need. They have the ability to adapt in this way, based on your specific requirements. We set up an initial timeline, which they committed to hitting. At one time, there were four developers working on the product, to make sure we were hitting the deadline. There were originally two developers working full-time, and that number increased to include a tester and an architect.

One of my team members was assigned to work with them locally, in the DCSL office. My colleague made sure the product looked good and maintained the relationship between my staff and theirs. I would have regular dialogue with their managing director, and when needed, their architect gave me updates.

How did you come to work with DCSL Software?

We were aware of DCSL, and had some good references for them, so we approached them to create a brand new system with fewer defects, in a very short time. I wanted a company that I could treat as a partner, rather than getting a product off of them. They proved to be just that. I chose them as someone that could work with me in developing and enhancing the product further.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

The total to date is 120,000 pounds sterling [approx. US $179,500].

What is the status of this engagement?

We're still working with them.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?

We were running a program starting mid-September, having a very tight timeline. They tackled it with time to spare, and it worked from day one. We didn't allow them time to write a specification; we were literally developing as we were going, and they based their work on the previous model. There were some glitches or bugs during the operational phase, but from the feedback I received from my team, they were on hand seven days a week to help resolve the defects. My end-users didn't experience any critical application faults.

In the previous version of the app, we were inundated with system errors of various kinds. When the new version developed by DCSL came out, there wasn't one mention of problems with the system from any end-users. It’s been very reliable in its performance. We’re very impressed with the level of craftsmanship executed by DCSL.

How did DCSL Software perform from a project management standpoint?

Because of the speed at which we worked, they gave us a schematic and project outline, and general timelines, but there was no time for them to write out detailed plans. We worked through it together. They gave us regular project updates, stating the completion percentage, and what was still needed. We had access to our current position at all time. My colleague working with their team would report back to me if there were any shortcomings, and that they'd be putting in more developers.

During the development period, there were delays that were to do with problems that would be uncovered, which they would pull back to the end of the project. We didn't use any specific management tools. We collaborated through email and Google Docs.

What distinguishes DCSL Software from other providers?

Their talent pool is fantastic. Like I said, the solution they developed works almost flawlessly and our users are more than satisfied.

Is there anything DCSL Software could have improved or done differently?

We did much of the work at high speed, and they delivered on time. Ultimately, we pushed ourselves into a very tight timeline; it was really aggressive. A proper work schedule, that would give them time to do the work around the seams, and not rush forward, would be an improvement for us as a partnership, rather than setting impossible tasks. Future projects with them will have more flexible timelines. 

5.0
Overall Score No issues to date. They've done a fantastic job.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They were very responsive and hit my deadlines.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    The cost so far has been based on their partnership on future work. I received more hours than what I probably paid for.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Role Analysis and Evaluation Software for Education Management Nonprofit Organization

“They were very good at feeding in other ideas… I couldn't speak highly enough about them.”

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
Project summary: 

DCSL developed a custom solution that provided the client with more control over design and functionality than its previous third-party software.

The Reviewer
 
2-11 Employees
 
Hereford, United Kingdom
HR Consultant, ECC, Ltd.
 
Verified
Feedback summary: 

End-user feedback was 99.9 percent positive. The client is extremely happy with DCSL’s ability to translate goals into a high-quality solution. Once an effective workflow was established, project management was streamlined and DCSL came up with new ideas that helped strengthen the product.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

ECC is a slightly unusual company. It's really a consortium of different universities. We are owned and operated by members that are all universities or advanced education colleges, and each of those members pay a subscription. That's where our funding comes from, essentially. What we provide is a job evaluation system called either HERA [higher education role analysis] for universities, or FEDRA [further education role analysis], if it's for further education colleges. We also provide a range of consultancy services linked to pay and reward, and job evaluation.

What is your position and responsibilities?

I am one of the consultants, and I am the project leader for the changeover to new software, which is why we've been working with DCSL.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with DCSL Software?

HERA has been around as a job evaluation scheme for around 15 years. It's factor specific, so it was designed for higher education institutions. We partnered up with another company that is a reward company, who also offered job evaluation, and our scheme used their software. They had millions of people worldwide who were also using this software.

It meant that we had no choice over how the software looked, how it operated, and what reports could be produced. We couldn't tailor it in any way or change it. We had an off the shelf product that supported our job evaluation scheme, and we were at the point where we realized that we needed to change that, and we needed something that we could change, own, and control. That was why we moved to finding a partner that could develop that sort of software for us.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement.

It was very much developing a system from scratch. That means they were responsible for helping us plan, design, develop, test, and launch. Going forward, they will be hosting the system for us and will be responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, and any further enhancements.

How did you come to work with DCSL Software?

The process started before I actually joined ECC. I joined in June 2013, and the tender process was underway already at that point. We had looked at around 20 companies, to get a sense of which companies were interested in tendering for this. We had in the area of 13 replies. At that point, we whittled it down to a list of about six, one of which was our existing supplier, but they were way out of range in terms of pricing. We very gently told them that we wouldn't be proceeding with them. That left us with five other companies from which to choose.

We did reference checks, we asked each of the companies to give us some other firms that they had worked with, and they had to complete a detailed questionnaire for us. We gave them a specification, and they told us how they would meet that specification in terms of what they could provide, and whether they thought that that would be something simple to provide or whether it was going to be a more complex piece of development, or whether it was something they would have to buy in expertise.

Then, another consultant and I checked the references that they provided. For each one, we did at least three reference calls, and then we came up with a kind of scoring process. That took us down to two companies, one of which was DCSL, and we had a final presentation day up in London in which we asked both companies to come and present. We asked them to put something together in terms of what you think this might look like going forward – give us some ideas of screens, and how you see it looking. DCSL had better ideas, they understood the brief more, and they were successful in being selected.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

We're around £450,000 [approximately $700,000] so far.

What is the status of this engagement?

We are continuing to work with DCSL Software. What we were looking for was a long-term partnership. It wasn't going to be just a case of them supplying the software and then walking away. We will continue to work with them, and they will host and maintain the software going into the future. We also plan to keep them involved in what we're doing, how we're developing our products, with them giving us some input into how we could develop the technical side of things to support that.

The most recent milestone completed with them was in June. All of our members had existing data on the old software platform, and part of the work that had to be done was quite an intense process of migrating that data onto the new software platform. There was a small team at DCSL that had worked with us on the development, which then also worked with us on the migration of the data. That was almost the final stage of the process.

At the moment, we've identified already, through members using the software, some system refinements. It's nothing actually that's not working. It's just things that we've looked at and determined there could be improvements. Now, it's little refinements and enhancements that they're doing. Some of them require a fair bit of coding, and that work will take us during the next few months.

In the meantime, the board of ECC are going to meet and put together an options paper for them, and we will decide which direction phase two of the project is going in. At the moment, we've got three options for what we might do next. It's up to the board to determine how we will proceed.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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.

4.5
Overall Score Based on the hiccups we had at the start. If it was based on the relationship now, I would say it's probably a five.
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    we knew that the pilot was going to happen in February, actually the scheduling after that was two weeks ahead of deadline, so it was great. We were scheduled to finish at the end of June, and we finished mid-June, so I was happy with that.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    The price was revised slightly about six months in but, again, that was due to us deciding to include more in phase one. As an amount, they've stuck to budget – absolutely – no problems whatsoever.
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Absolutely no hesitation. They've been really good.

Data Analytics Solution for Hospitality Startup

“They make it very clear what is going to happen from A to Z... They are very organized without being overly rigid.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
Project summary: 

DCSL developed a data analytics solution to help the client automate several manual and time-consuming processes.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Dublin, Ireland
Operations Director, Smart Space Strategy, Ltd.
 
Verified
Feedback summary: 

Ninety-nine percent of the client’s users work in the system on daily basis. Based on internal analytics, users are taking advantage of its functionalities and exploring features. The client is happy with their experience, citing DCSL’s communication and flexibility as core strengths.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your organization.

We are in the business of providing a cloud-based analysis application for use in the hospitality industry, focusing on the area of conference meeting and events. There are about eight or nine tools in our application that users can utilize to manage their future business strategy. We sell it on a subscription basis to hotels and conference venues.

What is your position?

I am the operations director.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What business challenge were you trying to address with DCSL Software?

Our founder and managing director ran her own business providing some of these tools, but they were in Excel and in spreadsheet format, which she sold to properties and venues. The challenge was that it relied on the users manually inputting data into these spreadsheets to provide them with some type of analysis. She wanted to automate the whole process.

SOLUTION

Please describe the scope of their involvement in detail.

The hospitality industry is not standardized. No two hotel companies are the same, no two hotels within a company operate in exactly the same way. We needed to have flexibility in the application to add extensions to particular tools. Custom features would be a necessity.

We liked the way DCSL approached the challenge. Their CEO [Nick Thompson] had a team meeting with our founder and myself, and we spent half a day presenting what we wanted them to complete. Their whole team was there. After that initial meeting, I think it was only two more half days, and they were up and running.

They used a lot of Microsoft. The system architecture is a Microsoft ASP.NET application using MVC 5 and hosted on Rackspace, which is obviously the company that hosts the day-to-day server.

How did you come to work with DCSL Software?

There were initially four companies under consideration for this project, but we wound up choosing DCSL. A key driver behind the decision was that we needed someone who could grasp the concept of what we wanted to do. They also needed to fulfill the broader requirements for the development of the application, but also the other elements around it in terms of day-to-day storage and management.

Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?

It cost £78,000 [approximately $122,000].

What is the status of this engagement?

Testing was finally completed at the end of February 2015, and we went onto a live system on March 1. In terms of actual paying clients, we've only been up and running since May. We haven't started QCs [quality controls] or reviews. Two of the properties had our product installed in May and then 10 properties by June, so it's very early days at the moment. We're still working – still evolving.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?

Currently, with the users that we have, we know that 99 percent of them are using it every single day, from what we can track, Monday through Friday. We can see that they're importing their own data on a daily basis to update the database, so they have real-time analysis. Some of them are already using the reports that can be exported, or some of the screenshots in the weekly reports.

One thing I can say is the availability of DCSL personnel has just been tremendous, whether that is a specific developer or somebody else without fault. There are rarely time delays, so if something needs to be done today or tomorrow, DCSL has the flexibility to do that.

They do understand that, as new clients come on board, there will always be idiosyncrasies in terms of the way some of the data comes across into our database. There is always staff on hand to provide us with expert analysis on what is wrong. We always have access to peer support and to their developers who have worked on the application.

How did DCSL Software perform from a project management standpoint?

They make it very clear what is going to happen from A to Z, which then gives them a true path to follow. They are very organized without being overly rigid. They're tremendously flexible, and they are quite prepared if things don't work out the way they should because of a particular client we have. They are in there, trying to find resolutions.

What distinguishes DCSL Software from other providers?

At the initial meeting, the one thing that stood out for us was that they were just so prepared. DCSL Software had done their homework. They were more than prepared, even at that initial meeting. They kind of pre-empted our needs. As a small startup company, I think they've very much mentored us in technical areas that neither my boss nor I had the expertise in, especially on the IT [information technology] side.

Is there anything DCSL Software could have improved or done differently?

At this point, I will have to say no. There is nothing that we would change. There is nothing in the whole process that we've felt caused a delay or a frustration. There was nothing.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Absolutely.

Database Development for Tante Marie

“[T]hey figured out how best to get us from A to Z using the most efficient route possible.”

Quality: 
4.5
Schedule: 
3.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
Project summary: 

DCSL developed a custom operations management system to replace Tante Marie’s outdated database and add enhanced features.

The Reviewer
 
2-11 Employees
 
United Kingdom
Managing Director and Principal, Tante Marie
 
Verified
Feedback summary: 

Though the software was recently launched, the client expects to see a 50 percent improvement in productivity from its users. Despite an extended deadline, DCSL stayed within budget. The client is especially happy with the solution’s easy maintenance.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company.

We're a culinary academy. We provide professional training for people who are looking for careers in food. There are two aspects to our business. We have a professional academy, which is entirely a skill-based cooking school. Then, we also have a restaurant attached to the school, staffed by graduates of our academy while they're studying for a hospitality management qualification.

What is your position?

I'm the managing director.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

Could you describe the business challenge that you were trying to address with DCSL Software?

We had a very antiquated Microsoft Access recipe database. We have about 2,000 recipes that we use as training materials. The database we were using was an automated system that allowed us to plug in the number of students we've got cooking a particular recipe at any one time, and the database would produce all of the ordering lists for us to contact our suppliers and place orders. The database was created in 1997 or thereabouts, and it was a very old system. A couple of years ago, I learned that Microsoft was ending support for that particular version of Access, so if the database crashed, we would be back to doing our ordering with a pencil, a bit of paper, and a calculator.

That's when we went to DCSL Software to build us a new database, but also to incorporate into it a system whereby, once we've plugged in how many students we've got cooking a particular recipe on a particular day, the software would automatically produce all of our educational management materials. So, it would provide the students' timetables and recipe schedules, along with lists of what recipes they were cooking and when they needed their supplies and materials. The system could produce student recipe files and learning materials, and on top of that, perform the functions of the old Microsoft Access database to produce all of our order sheets. So, effectively, what we asked DCSL Software to create was a complete operations management system for our business.

SOLUTION

What technologies were used to develop your database?

You're now speaking a language I don't understand. I'm a chef by trade, and what I wanted DCSL Software to create was a system that is completely user-friendly, so that I could bring a new member onto my team who has no computer training, and he or she could easily grasp how to use the database. So, what we wanted them to do was create a piece of Web-based software that they can manage in time, so as the technology evolves the software can grow with our company. I wanted DCSL Software to create a piece of software that is really user-friendly, and that's what they've done. So, when you start asking me about what software they used to build the database, I have no idea. All I know is that it works.

Did you provide the visual collateral and strategic guidance in-house?

Yes. That's right. DCSL Software came down here and spent about two or three weeks with us. They looked at our existing Access database, how we used it and what its various functionalities were. They also looked at our existing recipes. The 2,000 or so recipes we have are basically all saved as Microsoft Word documents. What they did during those two or three weeks was a lot of data gathering. They learned how our business works and talked to us a lot about what we wanted this software to do.

Essentially what they had to do was get an understanding of how we work, and then identify where there were opportunities to create a more efficient, automated process. We gave them the basic requirements, we showed them the recipes, and we showed them what we wanted the end product to look like. They had a look at our current operation, they looked at what we wanted the end product to look like, and they figured out how best to get us from A to Z using the most efficient route possible.

Could you provide a general cost estimate for this engagement?

We've spent about £40,000 [approximately $61,200] working with DCSL Software.

Is this an ongoing relationship?

It's ongoing in that we're just in the process now of taking the finished product and implementing it into our day-to-day activities. It's also ongoing in that we're going to keep them onboard with a monthly retainer to manage the software moving forward, so as our business grows and evolves, the software can grow and evolve with the business. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any statistics, metrics or user feedback that would demonstrate the quality of their performance?

It's a bit too early to tell because we're only just starting to use the software now. I'm expecting to see about a 50 percent improvement in productivity from the people who are using the software. Historically, the systems that we were using were quite slow and labor intensive. I think this new software is going to save people an awful lot of time in not having to push bits of paper around desks, so I'm thinking 50 percent improvement in productivity. At least, that's what I'm hoping for.

Regarding their responsiveness and ability to deliver your assigned work on time and within budget, have you had any issues in those areas?

No. The only thing I would say is, that during the initial meeting we had with them, they underestimated how complex the project was going to be. When I asked them how long they thought the project would take, their estimate was that it would take about nine months, but it's actually taken something like 13 months. I knew from the outset that nine months was probably unrealistic because I felt certain that once they came down here and spent some time learning how our systems work, they would realize the job was a lot more complicated than they had initially expected. But, importantly, their price has not changed from their original quote. So the project has taken a bit more time than they originally thought, but they've honored their original quote. 

Is there anything you'd consider unique about their practice?

I have no comparison here, since I've never used anybody else for a piece of software development on this scale. I have used a company recently that built us a new website. Our website was a £30,000 project, and I actually think DCSL Software has been much easier to deal with. They got it right the first time around, while the people who built our website created one that has needed a lot of attention and maintenance since it went live.

In retrospect, are there areas in which they could improve as a service provider?

I would like to have seen the solution delivered within nine months rather than 13, but that's also because it's the estimate that they proposed to begin with. We're a small business, so an investment of £40,000 is a lot of money for us. On the other hand, I would rather the project take four months longer if that was what was needed to deliver software that worked the first time around. So, from that perspective, I'm not too worried about the time issue.

Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?

I can't say that there is any advice I would give. I've been really pleased with DCSL Software, and, if you asked me whether or not I would use them again, the simple answer is yes – absolutely.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 3.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.5 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Custom Development Information Services Firm

“I think their upfront ability to understand our business was what impressed us the most.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
Project summary: 

DCSL Software developed a custom platform to replace the client’s legacy system.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom
Managing Director, Information Services Firm
 
Verified
Feedback summary: 

DCSL was able to successfully translate the client’s needs into a database that worked flawlessly. The client especially appreciated their professional and personable development resources, and interactive project management approach. Overall, they are very satisfied with DCSL’s work.

BACKGROUND

Could you briefly describe your organization?

[We are] a business information provider. We provide solutions to the construction industry on maintenance-type renew and refurbishment contracts. We use a library of pricing and, typically, local authority or public-funded bodies would enter into what are called long-term contracts with contractors on the basis of our pricing schedules. This gives them a transparent accounting of public spending money.

What is your position?

I was the managing director.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

Could you describe the business challenge that you were trying to address when you first approached DCSL Software?

When I joined the company, we had a couple of legacy systems that were really dated. They did work, but the marketplace itself was changing. The client needs were far more sophisticated, and we needed to address this with a more secure, robust, and functional platform than we currently had.

SOLUTION

Could you describe the scope of their involvement in greater detail?

DCSL Software really did the whole thing, from doing the needs analysis specifications, the actual development, and the initial training. They had some sort of workflow tool, which allowed them to mockup the database using a standard Microsoft product. Most of their work was functional development, though.

How did you come to select DCSL Software as your partner?

We made the decision based on size, ability to deliver and our own position in the marketplace. As a small niche company, we needed a partner that we’d be comfortable with rather than a very large software house. We did some research and got some good feedback about DCSL Software.

Could you provide a general cost estimate for this particular engagement?

We’ve spent about £100,000 [approximately $153,000] working with DCSL Software.

What is the status of the project?

It was completed in April 2014. The project was scheduled to be completed a bit earlier than that, but we had a few changes that were required.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

In terms of results, could you share any statistics, metrics, or user feedback that would demonstrate the quality of their performance?

DCSL Software did a very good job in translating our needs into a database that worked almost flawlessly. Apart from going slightly over, both in terms of time and budget, we were happy with the results.

DCSL Software recruited really well, and they are very easy people to deal with. The leadership, the developers, and the quality control – they’re all very professional and personable. We really appreciated that about them.

When working with DCSL Software, is there anything that you would consider unique about their strategic approach or development methodology that distinguish them from other vendors?

I think their upfront ability to understand our business was what impressed us the most. What was different with DCSL Software was that they had the ability to understand both our customers and what our business was trying to achieve. They were smart enough to challenge us about why we were doing certain things, which made us think those issues through again. We had a very interactive development approach, which was useful. Rather than having preconceived ideas of what a database solution should look like, we built ours very much to meet our business needs, which resulted in quite an impressive product.

In retrospect, are there any areas in which you think they could improve as a service provider?

Sometimes, your greatest success can also be your greatest weakness. I think if we had spent just a little more time going through the specifications, some of the quality control issues would’ve been avoided. It’s nothing that I would say was major, but there was a lesson learned. Rather than trying to build too early, just spend the right amount of time at the specification stage. If we had mapped all of the data flows at that stage, we would’ve saved some of the end work that was required when we were at the build stage.

What advice, if any, would you give a future client of theirs?

Sometimes, the actual data flows are difficult to visualize, and just that little bit of investment upfront clearly mapping your data flows would help immensely. What happens is that as you move from the specifications to the build stage, you sometimes lose some of the intent. Most of those involved in the specification know exactly what the design intent was, but the developers who actually do the coding might not. It’s not a major point, but it was a useful lesson. I don’t think you can overspecify, and it’s a useful exercise that will save in terms of later cost development.

5.0
Overall Score I think they’re really very good.
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    We saw a very quick return on investment, so I was very pleased.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Definitely. I would recommend them without hesitation.