Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
There was a ramp-up stage at the beginning of the collaboration with BLStream. We have our own company culture and project management style. For the initial 2 weeks, we maintained daily communication with BLStream in order to make sure that we understood each other and to make sure that they were fully aware of our full product story, not just the specific tasks. After this, everything worked perfectly.
We have measured the performance of BLStream's engineers' work through internal releases. We defined the scope of a workload at the start of a week and closed it out by the following Friday. We made sure that we received a release for our internal testers and quality assurance engineers. If everything turned out fine, we'd do a public release. After the ramp-up stage, it was very rare for BLStream to fail on an internal release. It only happened once or twice, because of discussion problems or other issues.
Delivering on time was an important factor in evaluating the performance of engineers. So far, we've been very satisfied with BLStream's performance.
Our internal engineers have acted as architects in order to define technology requirements like tools and coding language. From time to time, BLStream's engineers have provided useful and valuable suggestions to us in terms of various third-party services that we could use. We valued BLStream's feed-back and often took their suggestions. We've had open discussions with them and often found that their approaches were better than our initial ones.
Through our monthly fee, BLStream assigns us engineers who will only work on our project within that period of time. Unlike other contractors, who will do a set amount of work based on what they're being paid, BLStream's team has been aggressive in wanting to deliver good work. They have ownership for our product, which is hard to find.
How did BLStream perform from a project management standpoint?
We used Jira and Confluence for communication and tracking daily tasks. We also used Wrike from time to time, through which we created Gantt charts and logged milestones. We use work control software like GitHub and we rely on Jenkins for continuous integration. We use Autotask for regression testing.
What did you find most impressive about BLStream?
We have come to consider BLStream as a branch office of our own company. We give BLStream access to our internal Jira platform and collaborate with them regularly like they were a part of our family.
Are there any areas BLStream could improve?
One thing to consider for any company collaborating with a consulting firm is communication. There needs to be smooth and clear contact, and we need to make sure that the vendor is on the right track. On the kick-off meeting of a sprint, even if everyone agrees on the tasks and goes off to do their work, we can't expect to have success if there isn't proper communication. There need to be daily chats, not only through email but also phone calls, with the engineers on the other side.
There was one issue with communication which caused an issue with an internal release. We were expecting something completely different than what BLStream had understood. We figured out by the end of the first week that, even though what they were working on was great, it wasn't what we were looking for, which caused a delay, making us extend the sprint from 2 weeks to 3. BLStream is capable of doing the job and they're skilled in terms of coding, but we need to make sure that we're working on the same tasks. Our project manager's responsibility is to keep up with the status tracking and make sure that everything is working.