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 West Jackson Boulevard, 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
Helping professionals land their dream jobs Image

Helping professionals land their dream jobs

We helped Archer create a mobile app to digitize and scale their career advisory services.

Read the case study

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

Mapping the journey of families at the ER Image

Mapping the journey of families at the ER

Children's Hospital of Wisconsin 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

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

Reviews

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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

IT Consulting for Digital Marketing Firm

"What blew me away was the depth of comprehension and efficiency in their solution."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Less than $10,000
 
June - Nov. 2019
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions provided CRM consulting for a digital marketing company. The team was responsible for advanced segmentation work within a Sugar CRM. 

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Chicago, Illinois
Benjamin Swartz
CEO, Marcel Digital
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The engagement met the requirements of the internal team. Highland Solutions works directly with the client to ensure a seamless workflow. Their team communicates effectively and possesses a depth of knowledge that allows them to deliver quality results.

The client submitted this review online.

BACKGROUND

Please describe your company and your position there.

Marcel Digital has been a leader in digital marketing in Chicago for almost 17 years. We are a Google Premier Partner, Google Analytics Certified Partner, Umbraco Gold Partner and even employ a Moz Oracle.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

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

We use Sugar CRM and needed advanced segmentation work on our pipeline

What were your goals for this project?

Create the necessary reports which will provide the necessary data.

SOLUTION

How did you select this vendor?

Highland is a long time leader in Sugar CRM

Describe the project in detail.

We were looking to validate our sales pipeline.

What was the team composition?

We were led by an account person and a Sugar specialist

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

The outcome was terrific. It went well beyond Sugar specialty. Their people are able to digest the challenge quickly. I was able to observe them using my own data to confirm my issue and begin to think through a potential solution. They then provided a vetted solution which made perfect sense. What blew me away was the depth of comprehension and efficiency in their solution.

How effective was the workflow between your team and theirs?

Simple, fast, easy.

What did you find most impressive about this company?

Not sure how else to think about it . . . they know Sugar and they couple that with very bright people.

Are there any areas for improvement?

None.

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

IT & Dev Partnership with Electronic Service Provider

“They care about our development and our success, and they have a vested interest in our company.”

Quality: 
4.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$1,000,000 - $9,999,999
 
2010 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions is a long-term technology partner for a state government affiliate. They developed a transactional application, which they now maintain. They fix bugs and add new functionality as needed.

The Reviewer
 
11-50 Employees
 
Chicago, Illinois
Project Manager, Electronic Service Provider
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

There is a high degree of trust in the arrangement with Highland Solutions. They are communicative and familiar with the internal team. They are responsive, and approach tasks with a positive attitude.

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

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

We have an application that our vendors use to process government transactions at the state level. We deal with titling and registration for cars and other vital county records. The software helps the public process transactions between financial institutions and state government offices. I'm a project manager for the company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

They've worked with us for as long as we've been a company. They're our technology partner and developer.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They developed and maintain our application, and we're intrinsically tied with them. Initially, they did everything for us. They used to host all our data and phones, and we relied on them for a lot of our needs. We've since taken more ownership of our hosting, but they still help us develop any new products to add to the application. They fix any bugs that appear, and they have some other maintenance responsibilities within our backend. Sometimes, we create wireframes, but we let Highland create them for us if there are more technical aspects involved.

What is the team composition?

The team has evolved over time. Sometimes, we had a project manager who coordinated with developers. As the collaboration grew, we built a strong relationship with the developers and now talk with them directly. A lead developer acts as our point person for most of our interactions now.

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

They were hired before my time. Highland has always been our technology partner, and they housed us when we first launched. They were a longstanding partner when I joined the company ten years ago, and we've been simpatico with them since our inception.

How much have you invested with them?

I'm not sure of the exact amount, but we've certainly spent more than $1 million on the engagement.

What is the status of this engagement?

We've been in continuous development since at least 2010, possibly even earlier than that. The partnership is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

We really enjoy working with them, and they've gone through a variety of adjustments with us. They always make sure we're happy with the arrangement, and we have a good working relationship and trust between us.

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

We communicate at least weekly, and sometimes daily. We discuss tasks each week, and we enter stories into the software that Highland provides. We use Jira to manage some of our processes, and we also communicate through Slack.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They're a very personal company. We know the people we work with, and we're very familiar with their team. They care about our development and our success, and they have a vested interest in our company. They have a good attitude, and they make sure we're happy with the team members they assign to our projects. They're very responsive to our needs.

Are there any areas they could improve?

We occasionally go over budget and over our deadlines on some of our projects, but they are communicative when that happens. They respond well to hard deadlines, and they work well under tighter requirements.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

When working with a technology partner, define your parameters clearly and stay on top of your projects. That will help keep things on time and within your budget.

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

Web App Dev for Money Management Platform

They gradually became a strategic partner, because they had a vested interest in the long-term success of the project.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
4.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
4.0
The Project
 
$1,000,000 - $9,999,999
 
Jan. 2018 - July 2019
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions worked to create a financial management platform for a credit union. The team implemented its key function, account aggregation, and vigorously underwent user feedback processes.

The Reviewer
 
51-200 Employees
 
Minneapolis, Minnesota
CEO, Credit Union Firm
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

While the project was forgone midway, Highland Solutions proved to be a strategic partner who challenged the client in the right ways. While the turnovers in their team caused some development delays, they were skilled at executing user testing and implementing the appropriate changes.

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 president and CEO of a large financial cooperative. We serve roughly 55,000 members across the United States.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

We were developing a mobile-friendly, web-based app to help people manage their personal finances. While there were other account-aggregation tools already out there, we wanted to create a value-driven app that empowered users to follow wise financial principles.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

They designed and developed a value-driven web app whose key feature was account aggregation—enabling users to categorize their money into different accounts.

The app had three components, only two of which were completed. The first was a calculator to allow people to bucket their money wisely. The second tier was account aggregation, which categorized all of your balances and transactions.

 The team adhered to an agile methodology, working in sprints. We implemented user testing and user feedback which drove the following iteration of the product. Development was never completed because we were still on a beta test when we decided to forgo the project.

What is the team composition?

Ana (Senior Product Manager, Highland Solutions) was our project lead, but we worked with several designers and developers in implementing the first two tiers.

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

They were recommended to us by our parent company. They happened to also be an OutSystems partner.

How much have you invested with them?

While it’s difficult to pin down how much of the investment went towards Highland Solutions, we probably spent somewhere between $1-2 million with them.

What is the status of this engagement?

We engaged highland in early 2018 and shut the project down in July 2019.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Since we never actually launched the product, we don’t have any traditional metrics pertaining to user engagement. However, throughout our numerous iteration processes, the product was endowed with promising functionalities. The developers were adept at implementing complex classifications of expenses. They were a strong partner to have.   

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

They were excellent at meeting deadlines and statements of work. They were flexible in accommodating adjustments in scope. They also made very apt changes in response to user testing and feedback.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They challenged us in new ways. They gradually became a strategic partner, because they had a vested interest in the long-term success of the project. They helped us better and shape the product, instead of just doing the design and development that they were hired to do.

Are there any areas they could improve?

We had a few challenges in the continuity of the team. Since it was a value-driven project, the team needed to be invested in the motivations behind the product. Since we had a little bit of turnover with their team, having to onboarding new members caused a bit of a delay. I think that was the biggest pain point for my own project manager.

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

Custom Software Development & CRM Consulting for Security Company

“They took the time to learn our process upfront, so their input is invaluable.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$200,000 to $999,999
 
Oct. 2017 - Ongoing
Project summary: 

Highland Solutions helped a security company transition to a CRM solution that would be compatible with Microsoft Outlook and their decentralized team. They used SugarCRM to revamp the antiquated system.

The Reviewer
 
5,001-10,000 Employees
 
St. Louis, Missouri
Senior Vice President, Security Company
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The delivered product achieved its goal of 100% employee adoption. Individuals are using the tool in effective ways, unifying a team that’s otherwise scattered across the country. The Highland Solutions team was notably thorough in their work and communication—no detail too small to cover.

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

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

At the time of our partnership, we were a 70-year-old, third-generation security company in the United States. I was the senior VP of sales. We were just acquired back in April by a large security company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Highland Solutions?

Our CRM was not being adopted and used in the field because its functionality was poor and it wasn’t scalable enough to grow with us over time. We needed an upgrade both from a sales and client perspective to better track our customer interactions.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Our old CRM was particularly antiquated and no one was using it to log and track interactions. We needed a platform that would allow us to maintain over 60 years of legacy data while integrating properly with our Outlook email system and mobile platform. Originally we didn’t have a mobile app at all, though it was necessary for our very decentralized organization with field personnel throughout the United States. Highland Solutions helped us implement our current SugarCRM system, which is modern and updates in real-time.

We continually add licenses and users to the platform as our organization grows. Their team helps us make design changes to better capture data and information on the interface. Using the new CRM, we create a set of reports and dashboards for both sales and operations to ensure we were thinking properly. Their team reviewed our work and made suggestions on how we could improve.

What is the team composition?

I worked primarily with John (Principal of CRM Practice, Highland Solutions), Elizabeth (Director of CRM Practice, Highland Solutions), Patty (Senior CRM Specialist, Highland Solutions), and Shad (CRM Solutions Architect, Highland Solutions). There was a minimum of six team members on the project on a fairly consistent basis. John was my main point of contact and was responsible for engaging with personnel from SugarCRM. 

How did you come to work with Highland Solutions?

I initially did a Google search for top CRM providers. SugarCRM popped up as the number-one CRM by PC Magazine, so I decided to check them out. I was familiar with the space, but had never heard of SugarCRM before.

Their website gave me the opportunity to do a free demo, so I went for it. I was able to see the platform and its capabilities while trying it out. During that time, John reached out to me. We decided to have a meeting, which turned into multiple meetings, and I was very impressed by Highland Solutions' offerings. It wasn’t my responsibility to do this research, but after approaching my boss with this research, I was asked to move forward with them as the lead on this project.

Selecting them ended up being a very easy decision. They had a thorough process and were truly interested in partnerships. That’s how we do business—we seemed to be perfectly aligned. Price was never the deciding factor because we were able to find the best possible solution. 

How much have you invested with them?

We’ve spent about $250,000 with them, much of which can be attributed to licensing fees.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with them in October 2017, and they still support us now.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

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

Our main goal with this project was to achieve a high rate of adoption in the field. After getting their help and implementing the system, 100% of employees are now engaged with the platform, using the tool as it was intended. I’m also able to track how often each user goes onto the platform. I’ve seen a consistency in the adoption and an increase in usability. It's been really nice to see a tool like this bring our decentralized organization a little closer. I’m happy that everyone has embraced the value of the tool. 

How did Highland Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?

I know if reach out to them with a problem, they’ll address the issues in an hour. It’s amazing how responsive they are. Informed and prepared, they were with us every step of the way. No detail was too small or insignificant to cover.

They were able to share best practices using their industry experience, and even put me in touch with other users working with SugarCRM in similar ways. Highland Solutions gave us all the resources we needed to transition into and use the platform. They go out of their way to make sure our partnership is successful through face-to-face meetings, WebEx conferences, and project phone calls. Their team called me ten times more than any competitor did. That told me that they were fully committed to understanding our business.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They took the time to learn our process upfront, so their input is invaluable. They’ve made phenomenal changes and recommendations. They’re incredibly responsive and supportive.  

Their mission is to make us successful, which is sometimes rare in a partner in the tech industry. In a space that’s ever-changing and evolving, they stay on top of everything, always letting up know when they’re adding upgrades. The team understands that driving our success helps them be successful too. That’s a really unique, valuable approach.

Highland Solutions provided a professional, structured process that guided us through the project. Even in the very first meeting, they knew our major competitors and our company’s common verbiage. Everything they worked on was geared toward us specifically.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No, they knocked it out of the park every step of the way. They’re always thinking ahead to help us succeed. That foresight is invaluable.

Do you have any advice for potential customers?

Partner with them. They do all the heavy lifting, making the partnership easy. CRM project upgrades require a lot of time and effort, but it went by quick with them because of their organization and structure. There was never any guesswork.

5.0
Overall Score I’m a raving fan.
  • 5.0 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
33
OVERALL REVIEW RATING
4.9
Source
Clutch
LAST UPDATED
October 21, 2020