Could you share any statistics, metrics, or user feedback you’ve received that would demonstrate the effectiveness of their work?
Where we get feedback is from two places. One is, we do low launching of the tool in each of the three states. Most recently, we did some online surveys of 10 schools and technology directors who use the tool, and got back to us. We look at usability, access to content, and all the features that are normally included. They’re generally pretty positive within the context that these people are being asked to enter or upload data. It takes them hours to do it, so a lot of them aren’t very happy about it. The state is requiring them to do it.
We’ve had really positive feedback regarding the tool. It’s a tool that’s designed by us, and Endertech develops it. What we typically do is send over technical specifications about what we want, and we also send over visual aids. We’ll then have a meeting with them and do joint development. It’s really quite a good relationship with them. They’ve become partners with us, and not just our developers.
We also monitor our state rollouts. The most recent one we did was last fall, which was a 10-day state rollout for New Jersey. There were 600 to 700 school district tech directors, plus multiple other reps from the schools, completing the forms. Generally, they were very happy with the tool. In fact, the state directors are always very reticent about building this tool and rolling it out, because they know they’ll get negative feedback.
In essence, this tool has been a pretty positive experience. People have always come back and said, “I didn’t want to do it but once I did I got great reports out of it and now I have an inventory that I really like.” So, overall, it’s been a positive experience, and that’s been two of the states and were anticipating Illinois to be the same way.
When working with Endertech, is there anything you’d consider unique about their approach and/or development methodology that distinguish them from other vendors?
One of the things that have been really important to us is that they do have some excellent coders in the company. Their talent pool is extremely deep. They have consistently used the same developers with us, too. For example, there’s one person who is a team leader that has been working with us. We developed a relationship in two years, so we trust him, we know what his work hours are. It’s been a great relationship, and I think that’s a unique thing from a Web development perspective. We actually speak directly with the coders without having anyone in-between, which we’ve had trouble with in the past. It isn’t an issue with Endertech. One of the other things that they’ve done is open up the tool, so we can actually look at the code. We can then derive how they put the formulas together to make sure that it’s correct. It’s been a real back and forth in terms of quality assurance. We’re very pleased.
In retrospect, are there areas in which you think Endertech could improve as a service provider?
Yes. Quality assurance. That’s always a challenge with development, and especially with the tools we’re building. There are so many different configurations for school districts and the data they input. It can get very complex. If they could improve in any way, it would be in the quality assurance process. It has evolved in time. They’ve instituted a new system about six months ago that helps tremendously. We share in the quality assurance endeavor, but we want them to test everything before they actually give us the staging server for us to do the quality assurance. Sometimes they do, sometimes time constraints make that impossible, and they can’t do as much as they’d like.