In terms of results, could you share any statistics, metrics, or user feedback that would demonstrate the quality of their performance and/or the overall success of your engagement with them?
Our QA [quality assurance] team told us that they have never seen software developed so free of issues and bugs, compared to other software development firms. DockYard is very bullish in terms of doing test-driven development, so there's not a single line of code that they write that they don't actually write a test for.
Generally, when we are looking at issues and defects, lots of times the defects are around the intersections between systems that are talking to us or feeding us data as well as systems that are consuming the data that we're generating, so we'll see a lot of bugs on the peripheries. In terms of the actual application itself, the QA team found very few actual defects and zero regressions. A lot of that was due to the test-driven development. It was really fascinating to be a part of a project where quality was such a driver in terms of actual development.
We didn't experience any problems with their project management. Our company was doing a lot of the project management internally to begin with, and it was pretty sloppy. DockYard stepped in and was able to prevent a lot of potential disasters in terms of bad project management. They even volunteered to work on nights and weekends at one point, when our project team was accepting more work than they should have. DockYard really came through for us on many of those fronts. Everything they said they would deliver has been done. They really went above and beyond to try to get us out of a morass that our own project team got us into. They were fantastic.
When working with DockYard, is there anything that you consider unique about their practice that distinguishes them from other vendors?
I think they are the premier RAILS and Ember agency anywhere. If you want to create an Ember application, there is no better team. DockYard is pretty amazing in terms of taking a problem and trying to figure out the best way to go forward. One of the neat things about them is that, if you go back in their history, they started out as two separate companies. There was one company that did just development and another company that did just design. They happened to be working in the same collaborative workspace, they were teaming on projects, and they decided to combine.
They can do everything. They do visual design and user experience design as well as development. They come from a background where they specialize in those specific areas, and now they've managed to merge to provide the complete package. To me, that's kind of rare, that a company can have such deep expertise in both design and development. You don't normally see that, so I think that's a special thing about them.
In retrospect, are there areas in which you think they could improve as a service provider?
I understand that DockYard struggles with how to market themselves and go after new opportunities. I think one of the challenges that DockYard has is trying to get out of that niche of just being really good with Ember. They need to frame what they do in a way that allows organizations that want to build apps to find them. Right now, their main source of new business is through referrals, conferences, and word of mouth. They need to go after organizations that don't yet know that they need to use DockYard. Once you've actually chosen DockYard, it's a pretty amazing ride.
What advice, if any, would you give a future client of theirs?
When DockYard offers to do the discovery phase, have them do it. The money that you spend in doing that will pay off in having a more cohesive road map going forward. It will save you money in the long run because DockYard is very good at doing requirements analysis.