Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We don't have any specific statistics, and that's probably on our part. When we started the project – especially the pricing calculator project – we had no idea how long it would take and what it would really cost. That was not their fault, they made some good estimates, but we changed a lot of the scope along the way, so the project turned out to be bigger than we actually thought it was going to be. We didn't have any benchmarks at the beginning. We just had the idea and we said, "We need this because this is smart, and this can help us." Then we just started.
We don't really have any benchmarks or targets on what we should end up with, compared to what we actually did end up with. It was definitely more expensive than I had expected, but the result is also different than we originally expected. The calculator can actually do many more things than we originally thought was necessary. I can't share that with you because I don't have it.
Our marketing team consists of four people who are working with it on a daily basis. The feedback from them is that WordPress and the new website work great. It's a lot easier to work with. We save a lot of time because we can just upload directly into this platform. That was great, and the pricing calculator saves us an enormous amount of time in not having to complete the task manually. This was done through our colleagues in the office, but they don't do it anymore because the pricing calculator is doing it automatically. There's no question about it that this has given us some big savings and big efficiency increases, apart from the fact that we have a sharper pricing tool for our clients. We've had many benefits out of this.
How did GP Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?
They have their own project management tool, which we have access to but, honestly, we never really used it, because we were relying on GP to control it, which they did. We were just describing what we wanted, we had some milestones in place, and they followed those. It was only when we came with new ideas and new requests that they had to change the timeframe. They managed it, and we were not involved in the project management, they took care of it. They had their own project management tool for this process.
What did you find most impressive about GP Solutions?
One thing GP Solutions has been very good at is understanding our needs. They have not had a need for us to write a 50-page requirement specification. We have been able to explain on the phone or on Skype, and say, "We would like a pricing calculator that can do this, this, and this." They were very good at understanding what it was we wanted, and very shortly thereafter, they came back with some test versions of this and said, 'Is this what you have in mind?'
They are technically very talented. They can solve any issues we might have. I've also worked with other development companies, and it's not often that you work with somebody who understands what you need from a business perspective. "This is what I want, and this is what I need for my business." There have been no misunderstandings. They have been very good at understanding, "OK, this is what you need. Great. This is what we build." I think that really distinguishes them.
I'm not a tech guy, I can't really judge the quality of the technical work. I can say that the solution works, and they have given us what we asked for without really having to spend time on describing it in detail. I think this has been great for us. It saved a lot of time in the process by simply having been able to explain to them what we wanted and then have them deliver it. I don't see that very often in IT [information technology] development companies.
Are there any areas GP Solutions could improve?
One point, which is not a big point, but it's there. I think once you go through a program for a client like us, I think it's very important for the development company to make sure that they test the product thoroughly before they actually send it back to us. We can't check it, and we can't see it, so once we start to use it, we will trust that it works.
There have been a few cases where there are some minor things in the system that don't really seem right, a doc doesn't scan right, or a number is not where it should be. We only find out when we start working with it. I would like to think that they could maybe do a little more on the testing part before they actually gave it back to us. They should really focus on testing, but the functionality of the system is 100%.
There have been a few issues where we have seen, "OK, this doesn't work 100%. When you push this button, nothing happens." There are a hundred buttons in there, but when you push one of them it doesn't happen, because there was one tick in the programming that wasn't ticked off, or whatever it was. Small things, but still things that I would like to say, "Check it before you go live, and then send it back to us." It's a small thing, but it's still there. If I have to point out one area they could improve, it's to make sure that they do thorough testing before they send it back to us.