Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
Insofar as the partnership went, ELEKS has made plenty of mistakes, but that's the nature of technology and software itself. It's not anything unusual, and the successful management of our project has outweighed those mistakes.
Whenever any issues occur, the greatest attribute of working with them is that it will be understood and their management will work to correct them, either in a compensatory way or by changing rules and team members. We have a synergistic relationship. From a development standpoint, we've had very successful projects. We've also had problems, just as with any other developer but, as a whole, the positives have outweighed the negatives.
How did ELEKS perform from a project management standpoint?
They've consistently been able to deliver their work on time and within budget. We use JIRA and Redmine for project tracking. These tools have been used for the entirety of our relationship.
What distinguishes ELEKS from other providers?
We started using offshores in India in the late '90s. It was a disaster due to the disconnection in culture, education, and socialization. It was difficult to work with Indian teams abroad because of a lack in creativity and little understanding of Western culture. If we were to ask for a specific feature, we would get exactly what we'd asked for. However, we weren't software developers or user interface specialists, which worked to our detriment.
When we first went to ELEKS, we found a different culture altogether. Requests came back embellished with the creativity of developers that think more in line with Americans. They have a better understanding of business needs. As a result, our applications reflect the level of creativity coming from ELEKS. This isn't an inherent characteristic with other offshore providers.
These guys are actually dedicated to their clients' success and go the extra mile to ensure things are done right. People have worked with me for 10 or 11 years. They desire to see us succeed and work with us long term. On the opposite end, while working in India, we found that the majority of lower-level programmers, who were actually doing the work, had a desire to move to management as quickly as possible. They get there by meeting certain benchmarks, such as if they completed a project on time, and their ultimate goal is not necessarily to see your company succeed or to be a part of your long-term success. Their individual goal is to make it out of the development role and into a management one, move on to a bigger project, and eventually get to work for Google. The team at ELEKS is committed to our company and projects, aiming to have a long-lasting relationship, instead of treating the collaboration as a stepping-stone in their personal career.
Could you share any tips or recommendations for potential buyers without much experience managing an information technology project?
The number one requirement for any prospecting customer is to select a good project manager. After that, they have to meet the team in person. It's possible that ELEKS could assign to you, as a customer with a small project, some junior programmers lacking in the leadership skills necessary to complete your task correctly, on time, and on budget. It's most critical that whoever is going to lead your team understand your business. I would even recommend bringing that person to the United States in order for them to see how you do business, meet with a customer and other things of this nature. If that's not possible, go to ELEKS in person.
I've recently gotten a call from a customer who was disappointed in certain things. They wouldn't be specific, but they were simply not happy with how their project was going. They'd never met anyone from their team, except through Skype. This was the first problem. You have to make sure that the person leading your project understands you, your customers, your business, and your needs. If you don't have that confidence, don't start the project. You also need to know that the programmers assigned to your team have the same sense of urgency as yourself. You should, at the very least, inquire about their CVs and diplomas.
A personal connection is necessary. You can't hire ELEKS and hope for the best, which is true for any software development company. Once you've met with them, if you don't agree that your project manager is the right fit for the company, that issue needs to be changed first, before engaging on a yearlong endeavor.