Understand your customers. Build better tech.

GOLD VERIFIED

At Highland, we research, design, and build digital products and experiences for customer-centric companies and mission-driven organizations. For over 20 years, our team of designers, developers, and strategists have helped organizations turn their biggest uncertainties into opportunities for growth.

We've built and launched over 268 digital products, and we'd love to help you take your idea from dream to delivered. Ready to get started? Get in touch.

 
$25,000+
 
$150 - $199 / hr
 
10 - 49
 Founded
1999
Show all +
Chicago, IL
headquarters
  • 141 W. Jackson, Suite #2200
    Chicago, IL 60604
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 
Mission-Driven Organizations: Thrivent Financial, Morton Arboretum, Make-A-Wish, McGraw-Hill, RefugeeOne, City of Chicago | Business & Manufacturing: American Marketing Association, Creative Group, Greif | Healthcare: Cigna, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Agiliti Health, Harvard University Health Services
Putting a dent in the student debt crisis Image

Putting a dent in the student debt crisis

Thrivent wanted to create new products to help students plan, prepare, and pay for college. We created digital platforms to help students achieve their dreams without debt.

Read the case study
Developing a no-nonsense banking app Image

Developing a no-nonsense banking app

Highland worked with Thrivent Financial to build Fulfill, a streamlined application to help Gen-Z and millennial bankers make the most of their money. 

Read the case study

Designing experiences that deliver hope and strength Image

Designing experiences that deliver hope and strength

Make-A-Wish wanted to grant even more life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. We helped them understand the wish family journey from a new lens, and then created a digital strategy to empower staff and streamline their technology solutions. 

Read the case study

Building an organizational culture of design thinking Image

Building an organizational culture of design thinking

Highland worked with the American Marketing Association to train their team in Jobs to Be Done research methods. We then led them through a series of design sprints to help them put their new customer-centric vision into practice. 

Read the case study

Mapping the journey of families at the ER Image

Mapping the journey of families at the ER

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin W partnered with Highland to understand the ER journey so they could make the hospital experience better for children and their loved ones.

Read the case study

Finding new ways to amplify generosity Image

Finding new ways to amplify generosity

Highland worked with Generosity Expressions take their product from idea to fully-developed website in just 45 days.

Read the case study

Transforming an industry through custom software Image

Transforming an industry through custom software

Highland built a mobile-first product for Creative Group that is now bringing customized solutions to market 3x faster than competitors.

Read the case study

Helping a cultural institution recruit and retain members Image

Helping a cultural institution recruit and retain members

Highland worked with Morton to help them better understand the member journey and identify opportunities for deeper engagement. 

Read the case study

Getting hospital equipment into the right hands fast Image

Getting hospital equipment into the right hands fast

Agiliti is a leading provider of medical equipment to hospitals across the nation. Highland helped streamline their sales processes so that they can get medical equipment into the right hands fast.

Read the case study

Reviews

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ERP Maintenance & Software Dev for Real Estate Firm

"They make sure that everyone is on the same page before moving forward with the projects."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Oct. 2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions provides ongoing maintenance services, troubleshooting and improving an existing internal ERP. The team has also developed a custom program that caters to third-party clients.

The Reviewer
 
51 - 200 Employees
 
Chicago, Illinois
Managing Director, Real Estate Valuation & Consulting Firm
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Highland Solutions has done a great job thus far. Working in a timely manner and communicating transparently, their strong project management skills are their biggest strength. In addition to being a responsive, open partner, they are enthusiastic about problem-solving.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the managing director at a national commercial real estate valuation and consulting firm.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

Our programmer gave notice and left. We had developed an internal ERP that solved most of our problems. It was already in maintenance mode, and our programmer had done an excellent job creating it. 

We needed someone, because it wasn’t our expertise and we didn’t have other development staff, to troubleshoot, fix, and maintain the ERP. We also needed someone who could take it to the next level should we decide to pursue that.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

It’s a large program and we had very limited documentation on how it was constructed. Highland Solutions dove in an untangled that. 

They haven’t done new development on that program, but we did start a separate software customization project that was much smaller. They built us a program that takes our Excel work and spits out at an XML file that is used by our clients. 

What is the team composition?

I work with two programmers on a regular basis. 

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

When our programmer gave notice, we interviewed several firms. We liked the way Highland Solutions was going to go about the project. They seemed to have the clearest idea. We initially engaged them for a limited time, and since then we expanded the engagement. 

What is the status of this engagement?

We’ve been working with them since October 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

They do a great job and are prompt in our standups. They don’t waste time, but they make sure that everyone is on the same page before moving forward with the project.

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

They have abundant strength in this area. They are very clear, and it’s easy to track where everyone is through their project management tools. The team is also very responsive, whether that’s through Slack, email, or phone calls. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

They’re always willing to jump on a problem. They are also very honest. We had them estimate out a project that we didn’t move forward with, and at first, the estimate was a little off, probably because we didn’t articulate the project well.

As soon as we realized that, they came back to us and talked us through it a bit more. I felt that was much better than other teams, including our own in-house programming team, when we had one. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, overall I’m very happy with our working relationship. I don’t think we could’ve found a better fit for us. 

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Make sure you ask as many questions to feel comfortable with them. Highland Solutions is very open and honest, and they’re not going to say something just to sell you on it. 

They tell you exactly how they work and set appropriate expectations. Additionally, they can sub people in and out if you need a different skillset. 

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Consulting & Marketing for Video Platform Development

“They’re very personal, engaged, and they get the job done quickly.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Jan. 2019 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions designed and developed an educational streaming platform. They supported the project from start to finish, helping solidify the concept, offer advice, and after development, helped branding.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Lisle, Illinois
Jason Gile
Dean of Program Development & Innovation, Northern Seminary
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Although the project just launched, internal stakeholders are pleased with the final result. Highland Solutions provided customized integrations to ensure the out of the box solution met their partner’s needs. They were trustworthy, organized, and efficient workers.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the dean of program development at Northern Seminary.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

We were developing a new digital product. It’s a streaming video platform for educational purposes.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They were our lead consultant for the whole project. Their leadership was involved in developing the concept and business plan. They helped with branding, web development, and integrations. We came to them with the idea and they helped solidify the project and get it off the ground.

We used out of the box solutions, but with that came integrations and customizations. When we built the platform, they helped customize it to fit our needs and helped us tie together multiple systems for integration. Even before that, in the brainstorming and design phase, they were very helpful.

What is the team composition?

We had 8–10 people on our team. One person usually took the lead to organize the different pieces and I interact with other teammates as needed.

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

We had a connection with their president, so we started with him. We ended up working with the rest of the team. We didn’t really consider other options.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent about $75,000–$100,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working together in January 2019 and it’s ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

 We officially launched our product yesterday, so we don’t have hard metrics. Qualitatively, we’re really happy with their work and are optimistic about the outcome. They provide a really good product, their team is great, and they deliver on time.

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

They were great. We trusted them with stuff as we needed it. When they worked with us, they were very organized and on task. They use their own project management system internally. They use Slack and Trello. They invited me to use those platforms as well, but I chose not to use them.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They’re very personal, engaged, and they get the job done quickly. They define a project and try to get it done in a well-defined period of time to prevent the project from dragging on.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No. We’re extremely happy and we’d recommend them.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Trust them to deliver across multiple aspects of product design and development. From concept to financial planning and development, they can help you get your digital product off the ground.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Help Understanding CME Providers & Boards for Regulator

"I was very impressed by the willingness of the team to dig deep and learn hard."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Dec. 2019 - Mar. 2020
Project summary: 

A healthcare regulator hired Highland Solutions to develop a digital strategy. They performed an analysis of existing IT infrastructure and developed recommendations.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Chicago
Graham McMahon
CEO, Medical Education Firm
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The regulator has now moved to design, build, and implement Highland Solution's recommendations. Their team's communication and project management impressed, as did their ability to go above and beyond in their commitment to the project.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

I am the CEO at a national healthcare regulator

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire Highland Solutions?

We sought to develop a digital strategy that would help us transform to optimize service delivery to accredited providers, regulatory stakeholders, and clinician-learners

What were your goals for this project?

Identify our key audience, determine which platform capabilities would be required to succeed, the sequence of technical, marketing, sales, and support projects necessary, and the scope of investments and staffing needed.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

We engaged in an RFP process

Describe the scope of their work in detail.

Highland performed an analysis of our current IT architecture, worked through a design sprint, interviewed a variety of stakeholders, and developed - collaboratively - a series of recommendations

What was the team composition?

The firm's principal, Jon, with a core team that included IT architect, product design and research

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

Yes, we've now moved into design, build, and implementation using much of the structure and recommendations Highland delivered

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

Excellent communication and project management throughout

What did you find most impressive about this company?

I was very impressed by the willingness of the team to dig deep and learn hard. We operate within a complex labyrinth of regulatory systems, and the team did a great job coming to speed in understanding the key stakeholders, their needs, and incentives that could align them.

Are there any areas for improvement?

No

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Higher cost than other bidders, but excellent value
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Design & User Research for Project Management Platform

"They work with the client’s best interest in mind."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Feb. - May 2020
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions led research efforts, interviewing members of the target audience to determine the work that needed to be done. The team also conducted an online survey and designed a software prototype.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Switzerland
Kathrin Munz
Head of Marketing & New Product Development, Genioo
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Highland Solutions surpassed expectations, delivering a product that was much more advanced than anticipated. Although they missed the final deadline, it was because they were committed to delivering a solution that met all of the project requirements. They were a dedicated, supportive partner.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the product development & marketing manager for Genioo.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

We were looking for a partner to help us define the strategy and design a blueprint for our own project management software. This was particularly critical as we are not a software company, so we were looking for a trusted partner to guide us on that journey.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Highland Solutions did qualitative and quantitative research. During the research phase, and again during the prototype testing phase, they interviewed 60 people from our target audience to identify the jobs that needed to be done.

Each interview lasted about an hour. They also did an online survey of about 100 people to gather broader data to confirm our hypothesis. Additionally, they designed a prototype of a software management program. 

It has design components, a design library, and a code estimate for development. They provided strategic advice, helping us navigate complicated conversations and assisting in big decisions.

What is the team composition?

There were several people working with us, bringing different skill sets, including UX and software designers, as well as developers.

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

We found them on Clutch. Their focus on research and strategy were the main reasons we chose to work with them.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent $220,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together from February–May 2020.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

Our executive team and board were highly impressed. The product was much more sophisticated than we expected. Highland Solutions brought an agile methodology within which we worked, and the outcome of the project was great.

They went above and beyond in gathering all the requirements and turning them into something tangible.

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

They did okay, but it is their weakest point. The team was dedicated to producing the best product, even though it meant moving some of the deadlines out. The project ran roughly two weeks over the timeline originally set.

They were responsive and our communication was good. We had daily check-ins, communicating via Slack and email. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

Highland Solutions’s scope and dedication are very good. They work with the client’s best interest in mind. This was a very strategic project for us, and they moderated conversations elegantly to assist us. The team took our ideas, helped create a blueprint, and then designed the product accordingly.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Despite it being a messy and creative process, setting big milestones to align the client team would've been helpful. They also could've helped to educate clients on how agile methods work if they aren’t accustomed to that.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

For strategic and complicated projects, senior leadership can provide valuable perspective and recommendations. I highly recommend getting them involved.

5.0
Overall Score The team is dedicated, skilled, and passionate.
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They delivered above and beyond our expectations.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

Customer Research & Journey for Children's Hospital

"The team showed a lot of interest in the subject matter."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
3.0
Willing to refer: 
4.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
June - Dec. 2019
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions conducted customer research by doing internal and external interviews. The team then translated their findings into a customer journey to guide the business’ financial decisions.

The Reviewer
 
1,001-5,000 Employees
 
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Executive Director of Digital Health, Children's Hospital
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Highland Solutions delivered a professional customer journey that accurately captured the pediatricians’ and families’ feelings. Thanks to their effective project management, the team was able to meet every deadline and deliver great work. They were an engaged, flexible, and thorough partner.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the executive director of digital health and experience at a children’s hospital.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

We partnered with Highland Solutions to look at our overall experience around how families interact with the health system related to emergency and acute care and how they went through their decision making. 

We wanted them to do journey mapping and customer research work so that we could help guide our technology investments around that.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Highland Solutions did internal interviews and also invited families in for 60–90-minute interviews. They also coded those interviews into different phases and mapped them out into an aggregated customer journey. 

The team had a designer who came in towards the end and worked on the final deliverables for the journey map. They noted the customer attitude and feelings through their journey from when they found out they had a sick child to when they decided on where to seek care. 

Highland Solutions then put together a presentation, as well as a PDF that we printed off into large formats and shared with people around the organization. We’re also using the journeys as posters and reference materials so that we can have a good, at-a-glance understanding of what our customers’ journeys look like. 

What is the team composition?

We worked with about four teammates including a lead strategist, some researchers, and a graphic designer. 

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

They reached out to us with an opportunity to work on journey mapping together. What we liked about their approach is that it was much more collaborative. 

We wanted to learn more about how to do the work in-house, and they were one of the vendors that were willing to take a partnership approach. 

How much have you invested with them?

In total, we spent about $90,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked on this project from June–December 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

Their work was very well-received. A number of doctors commented that the journey map helped them validate what they had thought but were never able to put down. We got excellent feedback from the research that was shared with our executive teams and the board of directors

Everyone thought that it was professional and thorough and captured what our pediatricians were feeling from a ground level. 

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

The team met deadlines. Highland Solutions didn’t have a formal project manager, but they communicated their deliverables and deadlines clearly. They hit every milestone that we asked of them. It was very effective, and we never had to step in and manage them.

They communicated constantly. Because they allowed us to participate and co-facilitate on a lot of the elements, we knew what was going on throughout the project. 

What did you find most impressive about them?

The team showed a lot of interest in the subject matter. They went above and beyond in terms of getting an in-depth understanding of our material in a way that maybe other firms don’t. The team was also willing to be flexible and allow us to take on some of the work ourselves. 

Are there any areas they could improve?

They could’ve done a little bit more on the presentation side of it. There was a hand-off in terms of the deliverable, but one additional step they could’ve taken was presenting their findings in a different way and giving a sales tour of their research.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Make sure that you commit enough time into ensuring the research is valuable, not necessarily in terms of managing the project but more so when it comes to engaging with the research.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    For the most part, they stuck to our timelines. Because they’re a little smaller, sometimes there were other clients that may have gotten in the way.
  • 3.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They’re neither the cheapest nor the most expensive. They’re in line with what we see in the industry.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    The service and end deliverable they provided were great. We got rave reviews.
  • 4.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would highly recommend them depending on what customers are looking for.

UX Research for Wish-Granting Nonprofit

“They’re experts in their field, and the entire team is professional.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Oct. 2019 - Jan. 2020
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions conducted UX research for a national nonprofit. Corresponding with dozens of offices and hundreds of staff members, they identified core processes and proposed a solution for their new app.

The Reviewer
 
501-1,000 Employees
 
Phoenix, Arizona
Bipin Jayaraj
CIO, Make-A-Wish America
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Highland Solutions provided useful information that has helped the nonprofit move forward with its digital transformation. The team managed the timeline and budget well, ensuring that everything went according to plan. They’re professional and genuine, making them fantastic partners.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m the VP and CIO at Make-A-Wish America. We are headquartered in Phoenix. We have about 60 chapters around the United States.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

The foundation is embarking on a digital transformation journey. My predecessor put together some elements of an app centralization model. We wanted to create one platform for most of our business processes, like wish granting, but also donor journeys, and what we call the “customer 360”. However, we didn’t have a good understanding of what each chapter needed. Each chapter has different needs depending on size, revenue, staff size and number of wishes granted. We needed help identifying the business processes and the requirements for each chapter, so we brought on Highland Solutions.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Our primary goal was identifying the business processes, so it was mostly a lot of research work and then creating the UX design. So, they were thinking about the users, and designed the process and solutions around their needs. We’re talking about customer journey walk-throughs and a whole bunch of studies and research that needs to happen before we start building the app.

The first thing they did was a “consider and research” study that lasted about 12 weeks. The main focus was on UX design, customer design, and things of that nature. They gathered data from 25–30 chapters and interviewed about 100 staff members. Then, they held workshops for several days.

What is the team composition?

There were 5–6 team members working with us.

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

They had done work for one of our chapters. They did some terrific work, and I was really impressed with the results. So, they introduced us.

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent about $180,000.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked together October 2019–January 2020.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

This was an essential step in digital transformation, so we really needed it to progress. They helped us uncover things we wouldn’t have without them.

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

They have a good skill set in terms of project management. Typically in projects like this, we’d see cost overruns or timeline delays, but they made sure that everything was in line.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They’re genuine. I’ve worked with many IT consultants where that isn’t the case. Highland Solutions is a boutique; they know what their strengths are and cater to that, rather than trying to be everything to everyone. They’re experts in their field, and the entire team is professional.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No. We’re looking forward to another phase in the project with them.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Know exactly what you want. Be open with them on where you’re starting to help them properly estimate the scope and time of the project. Also, be open to learning things you hadn’t thought about. When we read their report, it was not what we assumed going into the project, but it was the truth.

5.0
Overall Score The experience is awesome. They listen well and bring solutions that may surprise you.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    We were amazed by what we got out of it; totally worth what we spent.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Definitely.

MVP Design for EdTech Startup

"It was clear from the outset that Highland really cared about us as a business."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
3.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
June 2019 - March 2020
Project summary: 

Highland Solution designed an MVP and created a clickable prototype. During each design interval, they did customer interviews to gather feedback.

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
Chicago, Illinois
Pam Schilling
Co-Founder & CEO, Archer Career
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Highland Solution's MVP is being used in the client's business development activities and investor discussions. The feedback for the design has been overwhelming. Overall, the workflow was effective and they discussed challenges and adjustments with the client. They exceeded expectations.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

I am the CEO of an EdTech startup. We have about 4 employees are are bringing an MVP to market in Fall 2019. Our mission is to solve challenges facing job seekers, to simplify the job search process and provide the right resources. I lead the product design and client/customer development activities for the firm, as well as serve clients as a career coach.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

For what projects/services did your company hire Highland Solutions?

We had previously created our own design for our MVP. We wanted to take it to the next level, integrate customer feedback, and be very clear on jobs to be done - our driving force was to ensure we were solving real pain points for our customers who are job seekers- students and working professionals.

What were your goals for this project?

Our deliverable was a clickable prototype that had the essence of our application vision. We wanted to show this to potential customers to evaluate our next steps to go forward with the software development.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

We initially searched online and worked through a design project with one firm. The design did not get us where we wanted at that stage. We then did some further online research and conducted an RFI/RFP process. We narrowed to two firms and had a chance to meet with the team. We were very keen to work with a team who understood us - both in mission and as a start-up. To complete our selection, we conducted a one day working session. We felt it was important to go through a design session and have that experience before we moved forward. That process far exceeded our expectations. Based on engaging with the Highland team and seeing them in action during their presentation and our working session, we selected them for our design project.

Describe the project in detail.

We first had a series of working session to discuss the application - the problem we sought to solve and the customer that we would be targeting with our MVP. We had a prior prototype/design we had created and we walked through that to discuss what we liked and did not like. Then, we allowed the Highland team to do some design work. We spent a few weeks iterating on that design. At each design interval/sprint, we did customer interviews to gather feedback. This was extremely important to drive our focus. As a final step, we had a day long discussion because we just were not to the right place with the design. Highland brought in a couple new individuals for a fresh look. They came back with a few completely new design ideas - we discussed, decided, and then, finalized our design.

What was the team composition?

We had a lead designer and a U/X expert. Supporting our team was an individual focused on development. Our team was fairly small as we were very narrow in scope. We also engaged with others from Highland, including a product manager.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Can you share any outcomes from the project that demonstrate progress or success?

We completed our clickable prototype and we are using it in our business development activities and investor discussions. We have also shown it to a large number of individuals who will be our customers. The feedback has been overwhelming. People have said we created something they have never seen before. We are beginning to move forward to work on a software beta with a target customer.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

Overall, our workflow was very good. As someone who has never been through a project like this, my challenge was adapting to the process - it is difficult to allow it to happen and unfold. We had an exceptional dialogue with our team - we could discuss our challenges, make adjustments as we needed, and we had a break through by stepping back and resetting our perspectives. We also had a strong dialogue with Highland's leadership, specifically Tyler Etters and Jon Berbaum.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

It was clear from the outset that Highland really cared about us as a business. We are a start-up, our resources are finite as we are self-funded (not VC-backed), and our users are sophisticated. Getting our application right is crucial. It is hard to work with a service provider and feel they care as much about your business as you do. Without question - Highland did this. When we said, "It's just not right yet," they said, "we know - let's get it there!" What set them apart for our project was that they absolutely worked to create the deliverable that exceeded our expectations. And, they did that.

Are there any areas for improvement?

Every project has its bumps. I think we all learned - project management is very key. We could have done better there just to smooth some of the logistics and communication, and work to our very aggressive timeline. I think working with a startup at our stage is extremely challenging. This was a learning experience for all and I think Highland took our feedback/suggestions along the way of the project and improved to adapt to our needs.

5.0
Overall Score There are many firms out there in this space. Some sell work and some take on your mission and their mission. Highland stands out.
  • 3.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    This was our biggest challenge - the project started later than we had hoped and ran into schedule challenges, taking longer than anticipated.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    Highland works at a very high level and there is a premium for that. It was worth for us, for this project.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    I had very high expectations going into the project. Those expectations were exceeded.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    I would not hestitate. I have developed a great relationship with the Highland team and have the highest regard for Jon Berbaum leading the firm.

Product Design & Consulting for Business Supplies Co

"They were empathetic to our challenges so it felt like their team was a part of our company."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
Feb. - Apr. 2019
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions provided design and consulting services to implement a product-driven mindset for an e-commerce business. They led workshops to develop a recruiting strategy and internal staffing models.

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
Chicago, Illinois
Geremy Bass
Program Manager, Zoro
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Highland Solutions produced valuable deliverables that established individual responsibilities and increased employee satisfaction with leadership. The team was reliable and transparent with results. They invested time to understand the unique challenge, which led to a successful partnership.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I’m a program manager across the digital product team at Zoro in Chicago. We’re an e-commerce site geared towards small businesses in the maintenance, repair, and operations space. We help customers find and buy the products that they need to get on with their days.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

We’re a relatively immature company in many ways and didn’t have a strong product mentality. We needed help building and maintaining a product strategy as well as hiring for our product groups.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Highland Solutions provided product design services, designing elements of the UX map and service blueprint. They also guided 3–5 workshops with conversation starters where we discussed our internal pain points.  We worked through a series of activities such as design thinking or organizational mapping. We came out of those workshops with outputs that Highland Solutions documented. Their team communicated what they’ve seen with various clients for us to leverage and make our product capabilities stronger.

Their team built a map of how our organization should be structured to meet the customer’s needs at various points across the customer journey. We also canvassed the team to assess our staffing needs. They gave us ideas for how to structure our product teams based on our position in the market. Their team created positions and associated responsibilities for members of our teams. 

They also guided us on how to approach hiring and identifying talent for specific roles. Their team provided strategies to improve our different Agile practices in terms of reducing handoffs and increasing customer touchpoints. Then, we implemented the suggestions and structures that Highland Solutions provided.

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

Our VP of customer experience made the call on Highland Solutions. She found them through a referral and looked into their portfolio. We had a couple of good conversions and felt that their team understood the needs of a smaller, immature company. Their offerings were flexible, so they didn’t walk us through a prepackaged solution. They were collaborative and wanted to help us solve our challenges.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent between $10,000–$25,000 on their services.

What is the status of this engagement?

Highland Solutions started working on this project in February 2019 and we wrapped in April 2019. We continue to have a relationship with them. 

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

After implementing the changes, we surveyed 40–50 people across the product team. We asked them questions such as how effectively their team delivered smoothly and iteratively. We also asked several questions about the effectiveness of project managers. Those answers scored between 4.0–4.1. Looking at the numbers, our team felt that we were doing a good job. 

Highland Solutions gave us a good foundation. The output that was valuable for us was the career progression plan for product teammates at our company. They broke down the positions and responsibilities of our product teammates, the structure of the product teams across the company, and how to divide the customer experience for various teams.

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

Everyone that we worked with at Highland Solutions was predictable. They set expectations well, so we knew what the outcomes of the project would be. Their team followed through with the documentation. We weren't in the dark or unsure about the project's status. Their team did a nice job managing the course of the project.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Highland Solutions listened to our challenges and talked with us about how to meet our customers' needs as an organization. Some aspects of our project weren’t a typical offering of theirs but they signed a contract with us to help. Their team worked hard and had their ears to the ground. They were empathetic to our challenges so it felt like their team was a part of our company.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Honestly, no.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

UX Research & Design for Nonprofit Organization

"They were so open to the feedback that we gave them, and they were there every step of the way."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
4.5
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
Oct. - Dec. 2019
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions managed an employee survey and research process. They articulated challenges the organization faced and elucidated what employees needed to be effective in their roles.

The Reviewer
 
1,001-5,000 Employees
 
Phoenix, Arizona
Program Director, Nonprofit Organization
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Working through an organic process, they understood the need to supplement the organization’s story and purpose with data. Their top-level resources immersed themselves in the data they recorded to distill it into prevalent and productive themes. Customers can expect a thorough partner.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I am the program director for a nonprofit organization. We are located in Phoenix, Arizona, with 60 chapters nationwide.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

We are going through a massive initiative right now. It’s your basic digital business and data transformation package over the course of about two-and-a-half very hectic years. In the course of migrating some of our legacy data systems and primary service system, we recognized that we needed to do a better job of understanding our constituency before we started to recreate the process.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

When we first started working with them, we thought that we were going to be looking at user design for the systems we were building. As we started initial conversations with them, however, we recognized that we might need to start one step further back. I and some other national office staff members had a two-day session with them, and after hearing from our chapter staff members, their research team recognized that they needed to start with — what they call — jobs-to-be-done research. This looks at not just the work that people do, but the jobs they have to perform to improve the work that they do. In our case, as our group came together, we determined that the first constituency we needed to know better to have the highest technology and new process adoption was our own staff across the country, starting with our fundraising and wish-granting staff. By beginning there, we could do the jobs-to-be-done research and have a deeper understanding of their needs, fears, challenges, as well as what we could do to build a system to help them.

We agreed on a three-month research project. They began with 75-minute interviews with staff members. We were able to get them the variation they needed for this study, but it was all anonymous. We wanted to get a wide array of voices, tenure, and opinions. Then, they quantified the open-ended commentary and developed themes. The next-level was video diary study driven by those themes where certain staff where could opt-in to take moments out of their day and record how they were feeling through an app.

They also provided a final element of quantitative surveying. For us, the research not only delivered great answers, but it served as the starting point of a massive initiative to make sure we had the voices we wanted to, the depth of voices we wanted to across chapters.

What is the team composition?

We had three primary contacts on the Highland team. Two were a little more day-to-day and one was a little more week-to-week. We also had a scheduler that was really helpful for keeping us on track. One of their principals stayed very closely connected to the project as well.

They collaborate with an external partner to do some of their video diary work. We didn’t have as much partnership with the external party.

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

When we were looking for a partner to begin some of that user design research, we had a strong recommendation from one of our chapters who had used them. I think they connected because of the location, as they are both in Chicago. Our chapter highly recommended them.

We weren’t aware of too many more groups that were able to do this work, so we had an informal RFP process. We spoke two other vendors besides Highland. They were strong about what they got back, how the process worked for them, how Highland understood how the process worked for them and the complexity of nonprofit organizations. They have a level of sophistication in their research process, as well as the ability to quickly understand an organization like ours.

How much have you invested in them?

We spent between $100,000–$250,000 for their services.

What is the status of this engagement?

We worked with them on this research from October 2019–December 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

The response that we got back was phenomenal, not only in terms of the survey and research tools but also that the people we were surveying that we were taking time to understand them and their needs.

One thing I want to highlight is their process. I have talked to them about it on several occasions. First of all, they tell you exactly what they are going to do, and one of their leads, David (Director CX Practice, Highland Solutions), said that they like to pierce mythology with data. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life. When you work for a nonprofit organization, particularly a complex one like ours, everything is mythology. It isn’t a strong suit for us as of yet, and so we rely on hearsay, anecdotes, and great stories. A lot of fundraising and nonprofit work is about storytelling, but it doesn’t really make for good decision making. Even coming in and helping us frame out what we’re going to be doing and sharing that helps to communicate why we do this. I think it was such a beautiful small sentiment and I am still getting mileage out of that line.

Their methodology is very organic. On the first day, we didn’t know who we were going to talk to, what we were going to ask about; all we knew was that we needed to talk to people to get a better understanding of how we could move through this massive initiative and avoid pitfalls.

They walk you through a series of questions, and before you know it you’re creating a matrix of who’s most important to the project and who understands the least about it, or who we understand least. You are filling this out after you have had this massive discussion and you have no idea when you enter the room that day where you are going to end up at the end. I had this happen on multiple occasions with them and even had it happen with them in conversation. They would spend a lot of time learning about the challenges we faced and the depth of where to start. The conversations varied, but I always felt like they were using the information to help us with the next step of the research.

They are very open and responsive to feedback as well. As we got closer and closer to building out the final report out, we kept coming back and saying that we needed to refine the report based on the audience that was going to be in the room. They were so open to the feedback that we gave them, and they were there every step of the way. I don’t think I can say anything better. We were all impressed with the way they worked.

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

They have all the project management tools you could want, and they use a sort of people operating system. We had check-ins three times a week with them, and Glenn (Director, Delivery, Highland Solutions) is a vital part of their team. He is their task manager, their scheduler, and makes sure that things are on track, on time, and on budget. He is like a project manager, but he’s also so much more.

Their operating system is something they take very seriously. I had conversations with them about how they get the right people. Everybody who has worked on our project was really dedicated and loved working on it. When you work with people like that as a vendor, you know you have hit something amazing. A lot of times when you work with vendors, there is an A team, and after the process starts you get something less than the A-team. We always get the A team with Highland. It is a very well-managed organization.

What did you find most impressive about them?

One of the things I found to be super impressive, and I don’t know if there’s a story behind why they do this or if it is just something that works for them, but it was impactful. After they completed the 75-minute interviews with staff members, we were invited back to their offices for a meeting to see where we were going to go from there. They put every quotable moment from those interviews on big bright sticky notes all around the conference room. It was truly immersive to walk into that room and see the amount of work they’d done, the voices they’d heard. It really helped us see how many times the same thing was repeated over and over again. I took a video of it and sent it to some staff members back at our office. I spent about an hour just reading those notes and being a part of them. Maybe it was happenstance that I happened to be there or maybe it was for them to organize; I don’t really know, but it was a moment I know I will not forget.

We have nearly 1200 staff members across every state, including Guam and Puerto Rico, so it was difficult for us to ensure we were being as inclusive as possible. Highland really helped us to do that and set us on the right foot and the right path.

Are there any areas they could improve?

I think they are really committed to making improvements. At one point, we had two constituencies going through different phases of interviews and it did get a little confusing when it came to understanding certain things and how we needed to work with both groups. I understand in retrospect that this was because Highland was letting the research guide the required next steps. If they felt like they didn’t have the right information or enough information to make any kind of conclusion or recommendation, they needed to go one level deeper. Between us and Highland, it was a moment we could have clarified, but now that we understand their methodology, I think it would be a lot different. We simply didn’t know what we didn’t know at the time.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

To get the most out of the relationship, and they were very clear about this, you have to have someone leading the effort. Don’t just mash a team of people together. You have to have a decision-maker and someone who’s committed to being on calls with Highland, moving the project along, and steering them in the right direction. Having someone veteran that understands the constituency/customer base well would be a good fit. I don’t know how they work with every client, but I can say that we got the most out of the relationship because of how we engaged with them. They were right there with us, and I think they would be right there with any client that hires them.

If you are willing to go even further and deeper with one more conversation or questionnaire, you feel like they are there for you. That is true of any vendor relationship, but I definitely felt it with Highland. If we wanted to have another conversation, they were there for it. I have all their cellphone numbers in my phone now and we are texting back and forth. It was a brief engagement, but it is amazing how when you work through something complex, you get to know people really well. Find the right person on your team who is going to go to the right depth of the organization, and you will get the most out of them.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.5 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    I think they worked with us on price, but they were expensive for a nonprofit.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer

CRM Customization for Engineering & Manufacturing Company

"Highland Solutions was open and flexible to our needs when crafting a solution."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.5
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$50,000 to $199,999
 
June 2018 - Oct. 2019
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions customized and implemented SugarCRM to support sales processes for an engineering and manufacturing company. They helped to create a scope and provided training to enable future adaptation.

The Reviewer
 
1001-10,000 Employees
 
Chicago, Illinois
Andy Drummond
EVP, Robertshaw Controls
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Highland Solutions delivered a dependable and tailored solution that has been adopted widely due to the product’s ease of use. The team provided effective training and managed the project adeptly. They were amenable and accommodating of project requirements, which ensured successful collaboration.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

RobertShaw Controls is an engineering and manufacturing company of appliance, heating, and refrigeration controls. I’m the EVP and general manager of our after-market parts business.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

We needed a CRM solution for our sales organization initially.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

First, Highland Solutions helped us to scope requirements. They guided us to identify what we really needed versus what we thought we needed. Then, their team helped us to understand SugarCRM’s fit, which is the tool Highland Solutions uses. They mapped the solution to our requirements, managing all the technical documentation. Their team customized the CRM to match our sales process and then worked with us to implement the product. Their team trained our staff and a subject matter expert the enable our own customization moving forward.

What is the team composition?

Primarily, we worked with a project leader.

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

We identified SugarCRM as a tool for our consideration and Highland Solutions is one of the product's partners in Chicago.

How much have you invested with them?

We spent about $75,000 on the project.

What is the status of this engagement?

We held initial conversations in June 2018. The project kicked off in March 2019 and the final phase of the project took place in October.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement? 

It’s hard to give hard metrics but adoption of the CRM across the sales organization has been high, which was expected. But more importantly, our sales team’s ability to use the tool is high. That’s a testament to not only the CRM but also Highland Solutions’ ability to map the solution to our existing processes. Their team did a really nice job supporting and training our sales folks. Particularly, they did well in teaching our subject matter expert. We’ve also had few—close to zero—technical issues.

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

Highlands Solutions was responsive. If you asked me for a rating, I would say 10/10. Their team did very well.

What did you find most impressive about them?

Highland Solutions was open and flexible to our needs when crafting a solution.

Are there any areas they could improve?

Honestly, no.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 4.5 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
Verification

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GOLD VERIFIED
Business Entity
Business Entity Name
Highland Group, Inc. DBA Highland Solutions
Status
Active
Jurisdiction of Formation
Illinois
Id
60358966
Date of Formation
Feb 22, 1999
Payment & Legal Filings
Bankruptcy
No
Tax Lien Filings
0
Judgement Filings
0
Collections Count
0
Last updated
Dec 6, 2019
Client Reviews
VERIFIED CLIENT REVIEWS
27
OVERALL REVIEW RATING
4.9
Source
Clutch
LAST UPDATED
July 23, 2020