Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
My engineers provided a ballpark for how many hours they thought the project would take internally. I was looking at an [internal] estimate in the $100,000 range, but Diceus is likely to wrap the project up for around $60,000. That’s a huge win for a small business.
Much more impressive than the cost however, was their ability to learn our tool stack. Prior to this engagement, Diceus’ online portfolio and resume stuff was all .NET. They were mostly a Microsoft shop, but we’re open-source guys using Python and other languages. I told them, “I would love to give you a shot, but I need you to work in my toolset. If I ever have to take this project back to my internal staff, I want it to be in a stack in a framework that we’re familiar with.” They took the time on their end to become familiar with our environment, our programming languages, our design patterns and did so at an impressive pace. A month or so after our initial engagement, they were pretty much up to speed enough that they could move forward with the project at a rate that I am pleased with. That’s another huge success story. They were willing to learn a totally new technology stack, workflow patterns, and tools that they were not familiar with.
Despite the time difference between my home state of Missouri and their location in the Ukraine, they have been great about being available when I have time during my business day. That was one of my major concerns, working with a team that was remotely located many time zones away. Their flexibility is a third impressive factor in our engagement.
How did Diceus perform from a project management standpoint?
I served as the business analyst/project manager for the project. I’ve asked them to use all of my toolset which they’ve readily done. We utilize Slack in our company for internal messaging and they have participated there actively. They have required ongoing direction as any project does, but they have responded positively to all of my feedback.
What did you find most impressive Diceus?
One of the biggest challenges in the project is that I did not want them to utilize a standard SQL database for storage. In the budgeting app, we established budget categories by month and there are baselines that you can project forward and things like that. Instead of storing each of those records in a database table, I wanted them to utilize DataFrames through the Pandas library. Using Pandas, we can perform ETL [Extract-Transform-Load] and data transformation easily, but it requires the adoption of new paradigms. No one inside of Diceus had used Pandas before, but they deployed the environment and my data model that I articulated very, very well. Not only did they learn a new tool, but they deployed that tool in the way that I asked them to. That’s something that’s not very easy to do.
Are there any areas Diceus could improve?
This is something we’ve already worked out with them. At the very beginning I was driving the entire process and that required a lot of my time; I’m a busy CEO. I had a sit-down conversation with them about 2 months in and said, “We need new processes for communicating here.” They were very responsive to that and established new processes.