Full Stack Web Development for Idea Platform
- Web Development
- $200,000 to $999,999
- Apr. 2015 - Ongoing
- Willing to Refer
"The inoutput team takes responsibility [for the project] because they actually want to see it succeed."
- Information technology
- 1-10 Employees
- Phone Interview
Using primarily PHP, inoutput built a custom online marketplace for the selling of ideas and intellectual property.
The biggest highlights are inoutput's ability to pair their coding abilities with excellent project management. The transparency with which they spec out and execute their work is impressive.
A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.
Introduce your business and what you do there.
I’m the director and owner of a technology company. We have an online marketplace for the buying and selling of intellectual property—inventions, ideas, and innovations.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
What challenge were you trying to address with inoutput?
I had actually tried another development agency to get this project brought to life and didn't have a positive experience. Over the years, I’ve tried to get various things out of dev agencies or software companies, whatever you want to call them. I’ve consistently found that it hasn’t been an easy process. There’s a big gap between people’s ability to code—to actually provide the functionality I’m looking for—and their ability to do project management. That means sticking to any kind of deadline or budget, or being particularly transparent about what was involved. I was looking for someone who could do both of those—coding and project management.
What was the scope of their involvement?
Inoutput took charge of the project from start to finish for Teknocrat. I had a good idea of the user experience that I wanted.
In terms of the actual development, inoutput used PHP. They used Atlassian for project management. It facilitated some of the development and the project management, giving me visibility on how everything is going and every sprint. They use Skeddly. They use Stripe as their preferred payment gateway that we’ve been securing into the system. We use Amazon Web Services, AWS, for the hosting. Apart from Stripe integration, it’s all custom-built.
How did you come to work with inoutput?
It was actually a referral from a friend of mine who used to have commercial premises in the same building as inoutput. He’s a friend of mine who owns a technology company that designs and manufactures lighting equipment. My friend is extremely intelligent and his recommendations don’t come often and don’t come lightly. When he told me that they were trustworthy and that they were good at what they did, I took him up on his recommendation and got in touch with them.
How much have you invested with inoutput?
To be honest with you, I’m not 100% sure. I would say a ballpark figure is $300,000 AUD [~225,000 USD].
What is the status of this engagement?
We started the project in April 2015 and it is ongoing. At the moment, the development side of it is on hiatus because we’re getting the marketing machine up and running. That has taken a bit of time. But they’re still 100% responsible for any future development, any maintenance of the site, and any bug fixes as we come across them.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We’ve done very limited marketing so far, but the levels of user engagement for Teknocrat’s beta-testing has been very high. There’s been pretty high involvement. There’s a lot of stickiness to the app, to the site, whatever you want to call it.
Their 2 main guys are Chris Rickard and Mat Hollingsworth. Chris, I think, is a bit of a technical whiz and Mat is more of the UX/UI. He’s willing to argue with me in a polite way about what he believes will be a better user experience. If I’m saying I want it to be this, he says, “Yeah, but I really think there’s going to be some flaws when people take it up.” He’ll fight his case and I’ll fight my case. Ultimately, it’s my decision, but I appreciate the fact that they don’t just do what I ask, especially if what I ask for is stupid and it’s not going to be that viable. They won’t just do something because I asked for it and then that’s just my problem. The inoutput team takes responsibility [for the project] because they actually want to see it succeed. They’ve got the experience to say, “Yeah, this is the best practice that’s out there at the moment.” Then they’ll send me a link to where I can read up more about it and make a more informed decision.
Apart from having that project management side—which is absolutely crucial—they’ve got not just the technology but the user experience front of mind. And they’re good at it. That’s a pretty rare combination. They did an exceptional job of giving me exactly what I was looking for. I enjoyed working with them and I’m still working with them.
How did inoutput perform from a project management standpoint?
As I mentioned, we’re on a bit of a hiatus at the moment. Before every sprint, they would break it down very thoroughly into individual tickets, each ticket being 1 little piece of work. Then they would give me a work estimate in terms of how many days or half-days of development. In terms of the actual budget—which obviously, I want to know—they would do fact-finding before leaving it to that stage. They would see exactly what I expected out of a project and then give me some options. When they did their first major bit of work, they gave me a 3-tier estimate based on budget: “Here’s the basic, here’s the intermediate level, and here’s the Rolls-Royce version if you want it, if you can afford it,” and gave me the choice.
They’re very organized. They’re very detailed. Nothing slips through the cracks. They would be the ones reminding me of certain things that we discussed weeks before. It’s usually the opposite. When I engage other developers or development agencies, whether they’re in-house or outsourced, I would have to remind them, “How’s this going and what happened to this?” There would be a lot of things slipping through the cracks.
The inoutput guys are meticulous. They take meticulous notes. They update everything on Confluence inside Atlassian just to make sure that we’re all on the same page. They really do project manage. Apart from the development side of it, that’s almost more important to me because then I know where we are at all times. I know where I’m going to be in 2 or 3 weeks with them, which I think is very rare for a dev agency.
What did you find most impressive about inoutput?
I was impressed at how they kept me informed and gave me real visibility on everything. I’m not having to chase them to say, “Where’s this thing I was expecting?” That’s never happened. They’re probably 90% on time. The 10% they’re not on time, they’ve told me and given me forewarning, which I think is extremely professional. I always appreciate that. If anything doesn’t get done on the current sprint because of time constraints or budget constraints, it will roll over to the next sprint. They deliver everything.
When you outsource something —whether it’s software development, or marketing, or whatever—that’s always a worry as a business owner. Someone would give you a fixed price or estimate, saying you’re getting something. But not that many people break it down into line items, nor are they willing to pull back the curtain and let you see what you’re getting for your money. They’re just hoping you’re going to trust that they’re really going to do a lot of work.
Having been in business for 20-odd years, my experience has been that it’s not the case, not really. It’s rare that you pay for something and then you go, “Wow, that’s amazing. I really got a lot for it.” I’m not saying that inoutput necessarily offers amazing value; I think they’re good value. But what I think is amazing about them is the fact that they’re always very transparent about every bit of work they’re going to do for us. I think they’ve got really tight internal systems and the processes. They make sure that everything that gets done gets tracked time-wise, ticket-wise. They’ve given me this level of visibility which just engenders trust.
Are there any areas inoutput could improve?
I’d probably say cost-wise, they could be a little bit more affordable. Cost and value aren’t necessarily always the same thing. From the perspective of having seen millions spent on development inside another company that I was running years ago—which wasn’t my company —I think they’re a far better value than what I’ve seen elsewhere. Back when I was COO of a recruitment company that spent $3 million on dev, I’m guessing that inoutput would’ve done the same job for less than half the price. For a small operator like me, I probably could’ve cobbled together a cheaper solution for what I’ve spent on inoutput. Then again, I would’ve compromised on quality. I would recommend them to a startup because their mentality is that they can take a project from nothing and take it to fruition, but I’d make sure it’s a well-funded startup.
I can appreciate the fact that if they’re working with larger outfits, their pricing structure is very appropriate. It’s a double-edged sword. Compared to a lot of software companies that would serve large outfits, they’d be far more cost-effective based on my experience previously. But because this is a small operation—Teknocrat is a startup—for a startup level, they could maybe be a little bit more cost-effective. Maybe they need to employ a bit of a sliding scale, which maybe isn’t that fair to the larger end of town. At the same time, I’m not from the larger end of town, so I don’t really care whether or not it’s fair for them.
Service & Deliverables
"They break it down and they deliver what they say they’re going to deliver. They stick to it."
On time / deadlines
"They’ve almost never missed a deadline. When they’ve had to say, “We can’t get to it this week” for whatever reason, they at least keep me informed."
Value / within estimates
"I think that sliding scale-wise, maybe they could’ve been a little bit sharper on the pricing for me."
Willing to Refer5.0
"I highly recommend them. The caveat is I’d recommend them to businesses that can afford serious development. If someone has a shoestring budget, I would not recommend them.