What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
It’s an outward-facing site and most people don’t know that we’re on a Drupal platform because my department runs that for them. When we first started looking at CMS systems in the educational arena, they were really expensive. We couldn’t be in a small community college and afford the price tag that came with some of them five years ago. So we looked at Drupal and it’s been a great platform. It’s highly customizable, which is great, because as we change in and out of different state systems, we can port them in pretty easily and have control over the design.
They’ve been super helpful in giving me great advice to keep our systems alive and running. They’ve actually thwarted a couple different scenarios where we’ve had some really big virus outbreaks in the Drupal and Linux world, and they were on top of it. They’re aware of when that outbreak is launching out in the wild, and they’ve done really proactive patching.
We have not gone down—I’ve been up 24/7 since they have helped me move to AWS. We went down a couple times before, but it wasn’t because of them. It was because of our own network. We were kind of in a remote location and a fiber line got severed, which took out our whole connectivity. That’s why we opted for the cloud services and we haven’t gone down since.
On the redesign, they took me to a mobile-ready platform. We went from a Drupal template into a mobile platform. It wasn’t easy and not everything came across, but it wasn’t their fault. We were the ones managing it and they were just our backup for that. We learned a lot and they really helped to explain and advise me on what template to use for Drupal. It’s working out great so far.
How did Freelock perform from a project management standpoint?
The challenge was in the development of something that we don’t normally develop on a daily basis. That’s where they fit: they’re there for me as a consultant. They’re there as a backup system, and their project management skills and responsiveness have been excellent. They are one of the best vendors out of the many that I work with.
Their project manager is stellar. He keeps you informed; he’s always on it. I never have to remind them. They usually have to remind me when we need something. I can’t really come up with a complaint.
It takes a little bit to get in the right groove when you’re working remotely with people. They have remote people, but they just changed to a new project management software that has really improved that interaction. I’m probably the one that they have to follow after, instead of me following after them. Since I work with multiple vendors, I find that to be a very unique character trait, as well as the fact that they’re so responsive.
John, the owner, has not only been responsive, but if I’m curious as to what the fix was or if I want an explanation as to what they did, they freely share all of their information with me so I fully knew what went on. I usually learned from every experience where I requested that. We communicate through email, conference calls, and use the project management software.
What did you find most impressive about them?
They are immediately responsive. I always think, “You don’t have to respond that fast.” Even on weekends and nights, if I have a question, they usually answer me. If they can’t answer me, they let me know why and they’ll tell me when they get a hold of me the next morning. I have never been left hanging by Freelock in all the years I’ve worked with them.
Are there any areas they could improve?
From my end, identifying and scoping out the project really well. When you work with any vendor, they’re only as good as your scope and your communication. If there was anything that skipped a beat, it was because I didn’t have that experience. It was a learning curve in the beginning. That’s where those guys really were patient and kind. I never felt they were short. They helped guide me through that. I’ve learned how to better manage a web project by working with these guys.