In terms of results, could you share any statistics, metrics, or user feedback you’ve received that would demonstrate the effectiveness of their work?
I don’t have any figures yet. We’re still gathering data since we just went live. However, user feedback has been relatively positive, especially on the outside. Internally, we’ve had our own issues, mainly due to compatibility because we’ve got our own internal users of legacy systems, and that impacted some of the delivery of new websites for our internal customers or clients. However, from the outside, we’ve had great compliments from new prospective audiences, especially students and parents to donors and alumni. Things have been moving in the right direction.
When working with Drupal Connect, is there anything you’d consider special or unique about their approach or development methodology that distinguishes them from other vendors?
Working with them, based upon it being an open project, there were some times when we had to move through a few more iterations to meet our predetermined requirements. That was mainly due to our different styles and approaches to problem solving. Working with proprietary systems, you get away with saying you know exactly what you’re going to get delivered to you. Working with an open system, you have to move through several iterations. By the fourth time, you really just want to stick to the module, but you’re still making changes, and you need to sign off and move ahead. It can be very easy to become tangled in an iterative process because you can dwell on a simple issue for a long time before realizing you have to scrap it altogether or reconceptualize the whole thing from scratch.
As far as the operating style and communications were concerned, they were always quite reliable. We met weekly, and worked remotely outside of those weekly meetings, just to keep the project moving forward. While we still have a couple of outstanding items, overall, from a high level, their effort was very accommodating and certainly took into account our ideas. They really strayed from offering us the platter of “best practices” and tailored our solution to the unique needs of a university. That level of service and understanding is extremely difficult to come by.
In retrospect, are there areas you feel they could improve on as a service provider, or are there things you’d do differently as the client before initiating a project of this nature?
Two things come to mind. From a development perspective, we worked really well together. The project management was slightly lacking with regard to micromanagement. We were working so much on the ground level that there wasn’t enough attention being paid to where the resources were being spent. Some inefficiency definitely stemmed from that. Our budget-wise approach to the project management phase of things was a little bit to my disliking. We could have improved that effort by being clearer about how long things should take to complete, so that we could make line adjustments to make sure that we’re not wasting precious hours on exploration, instead of working diligently to meet our core requirements. The key takeaway on our end was to be prepared to micromanage the financial components ourselves, rather than assuming the vendor will do so in the most effective way possible.