How do you feel about their performance overall?
They certainly delivered what they promised and I would say we had minimal misunderstandings. It was pretty well understood what they were doing for us, but they delivered late on a couple items. However, that was due to circumstances beyond their control. We remained quite flexible with them because of that. Ultimately, they were able to finish the project and redeploy their resources. I am under the impression that one of their team members moved away mid-project. But they always delivered and added value, and they’ve been flexible. They also managed expectations well. Additionally, they’re good at finding the resources that are needed for a project and subsequently putting all the pieces together.
When you are working with Force by Design, is there anything unique or special about them compared to any other organization that you may have worked with in the past?
What’s special about them is that they really understand the product, and they’ve got a top-rate team of developers. They partner with their customers in a way that’s really unique. They make it fun, which is uncommon. I’m thinking in particular of all the parties they’ve had around the time of Dreamforce, and they take all the clients out. There was a portion of time for a few years there where they would take all of their customers to Lake Tahoe to go skiing, and pay for all the hotels and lift tickets. It was their way of thanking their customers. It was phenomenal. They’ve just grown by leaps and bounds. We were probably one of their biggest customers at one time, and now they’ve just gone into the stratosphere. They continue to work with us and fulfill whatever our needs are with Salesforce.com development, and I hope they will continue to be our partner for Salesforce.com.
In retrospect, are there any areas you feel like they could have improved on or done differently?
That’s a good question. I suppose that something they were struggling with, an issue that I’m aware of, was that their project went over budget. This is fairly common in the development world. I know that customers expect a solution to be delivered within a certain scope of work, but given changes or unforeseeable hurdles that require more time and energy, the billable hours can rapidly exceed what was originally projected. That’s always going to be a tough issue. You can almost expect it, so it never really caused a problem for us. We were always willing to meet them and compromise if the hours extended beyond the initial projection. That’s just a perennial problem for any software developer. I think they managed the problem pretty well, despite the fact that things sometimes went beyond the scope.
There were some meetings where people got kind of bent out of shape a couple times for no reason. Perhaps it was due to stress. It was disconcerting, though. To some extent I suppose it goes with the territory.
We’re all still good friends.
Do you have any further comments you would like to add about your working experience with Force by Design?
It was always a pleasure to work with these Salesforce.com experts who had an understanding of our needs and mission. They really developed a keen understanding of our business before they deployed any solutions, had a kind of respect for and acknowledgement of the limits of nonprofit organizations, and a real sense of enthusiasm for innovation. They were using the Salesforce.com platform in really novel, creative ways that have benefited us, and continue to do so. We’re definitely getting our value for what they’ve built for us. As a return on the investment, it’ll go on – the volume we have with these programs.