This review was updated on May 4th, 2018 by the client. New content is below.
Has the scope of their involvement expanded in any way? Have they taken on new projects or helped out in any different way in the past year?
Our engagement has grown since then. They’ve expanded the team we work with significantly. We now have 17 people assigned to us from EchoUA, including two team leaders, 14 developers, and one QA resource. They comprise two teams who coordinate and focus on different types of projects.
Do they work directly with your in-house team and coordinate with those developers?
Yes, they do. We're putting together a new organization at the moment. Having grown substantially, we can now assign internal team leaders and senior developers to collaborate with each of EchoUA's teams. These members of our staff provide all the necessary information.
Do you mind choosing one project that they've worked on you worked on for you and highlighting which technologies they were using? What are the forms and functionalities you're asking them to build out?
One example is our e-commerce shop where event organizer can sell tickets. It allows people to select specific seats they want. EchoUA manages many of our projects like this one. The developers use angular.js as the main programming language. Backend technology they produce is coded with PHP 7.
Is it integrated with a payment system or any databases?
Our central database is MySQL. We use this system for all our ticket sales platforms, which features an integrated Ingenico payment system. This particular solution was built specifically for the United Arab Emirates market.
What is the current status of the engagement? You began in December 2016 and it's ongoing, correct? Have there been any breaks in between, or has it been a continuous relationship?
There have been no breaks so far. We actually renewed their contract in December and intend to scale up our partnership. They've currently in the process of recruiting new resources to work with us. By late summer 2018, we'll hopefully have a third team working for us from EchoUA.
I also want to update the project size if that's necessary. Do you know approximately how much money you've invested with them so far since 2016?
When our team was closer to nine people, we paid between $10,000–$15,000 per month. Naturally, the monthly fee has increased since we're now working with many more people. The last two invoices were around $40,000 each. Assuming we maintain a team of 17 people, we'll spend between $480,000–$540,000 this year.
In terms of feedback, are there any new results you can share? Do you have evidence or metrics or just general success stories that would demonstrate the impact that they've had on your company?
EchoUA’s latest key success story was implementing a Symfony framework on our back-office solution. As the basis for the new version of our software, this was quite an important and heavy-duty project. Their specialized expertise using this technology provided the critical first step for our code. All the developers, including our internal ones, will work off this base for the next iteration of our product.
Overall, are your developers happy working with the EchoUA team members? Is there good communication between the two groups?
Our team is happy to work with the new additions from EchoUA. Communication is challenging because working in different countries makes it harder to share information. This includes non-technical context details. Sometimes, this distance can cause miscommunications or oversights.
Cultural differences can also make it harder for them to understand our user base. Our users sometimes need to discuss a topic with EchoUA. Their entire team might not be familiar with our business yet. To their credit, they've gotten much better after just one year. Senior staff members are currently training the more recent hires.
Do you still have a coordinator on your team that helps with project management?
Yes, but we're going to change that soon. One coordinator isn't enough for a 17-person team. We're implementing paired teams, rather than just a single team leader. This management style is much easier. The team leaders on both sides easily stay in touch and manage the backlog and organization.
What do you find most impressive or noteworthy about them that might distinguish EchoUA from other partners you've used in the past?
Their technical expertise sets them apart. They're very advanced in terms of working with new technologies, Especially the web environment. Consistently keeping track of all our new projects and emerging technology is one of their most important skills.
Do you have any suggestions about things that they can do to improve or even grow going forward?
They should encourage their whole staff to be bilingual. English proficiency would be useful when speaking with clients’ users. I know they're working on that goal and have been holding classes for their team. They should also probably find a way to secure new hires, rather than keeping all the same co-workers. This should be a shared responsibility with their clients.
Do you have any tips or advice that you would give to any future potential clients of theirs about how to get the most out of a good working relationship with them?
Encourage them to come work in your offices at least once in a while. It makes a difference. We had their most senior teammates spend one week in our offices. It was really useful to be able to share a lot of information with them that they could relay back to the whole company. This is also a great way to secure EchoUA’s stability.