Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
Internally, the biggest feedback that I've received for their work, including how they synchronized to our team, was that their communication was excellent. They do great work, keep up with our schedule and constantly come up with new ideas.
Early on in our relationship, we decided to give them more responsibility because we could have a conversation with them. FDV Solutions could build a specification from the ground up around our ideas, and come back with proactive questions around those specs. We had the same expectations from them as we did from high-end in-house engineers. We realized that they could serve as an exoskeleton to our team, which we could attach quickly and reliably. As our relationship grew, the internal feedback continued to be similar.
There were elements of their design process which we wanted them to modernize. FDV Solutions invested in the resources and training to strengthen that area. They've always been open to feedback.
A second perspective comes from the client side. The best reflection I've received is in the form of satisfaction scores with the technology. There have been almost zero bug complaints on either platform, which is incredible. The apps also have seamless integration with the API, giving us low downtime in terms of latent data. FDV Solutions took the time to create careful architecture in terms of experience and underlying backend. This enabled us to ensure customers that they could use the application from day one, without having it feel like a beta version.
FDV Solutions helped us devise segmentation strategies and build specialized tools around them, for video and other applications. This also had a direct impact on client satisfaction and feedback. As with mobile apps, the feedback was that the solution seamlessly integrated with what we were already providing, and didn't feel like a third-party product.
A third perspective on their work is from an executive standpoint. For me, it was a relief to see a team with strong arms that could hold its weight. My biggest fear in moving our development to outside resources was that this wouldn't be the case. Based on other feed-back and my own experience, it became clear that FDV Solutions are vested into what they're building, they care about the relationship, and will go to where they need to be to make sure that each project is a success.
They were also cost-effective. From the perspective of someone with a fiduciary responsibility, there's always a trade-off between productivity and quality on one end, and price on the other. FDV Solutions strike a balance of offering the same output as an in-house team, but with a discount. It made sense to scale with them.
The benefit of only having a one hour time difference between our companies is also significant.
How did FDV Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?
They are in charge of project documentation, which is a great service, especially since our in-house efforts are lacking. The tools we use for project tracking are Pivotal Tracker, Trello, Asana and Jira.
They offer 24-hour support. If we need to, we could send something over and have someone develop into the night if necessary.
Our collaboration was initially limited to us giving them work that we didn't have time for. It extended to using them for core projects on which we wanted additional reviewers for code, basically another set of eyes to look at the work from a different perspective. That is the moment when time became an issue. They were always responsive, but we wanted more than that. If everyone had to work until midnight, then that is what they would have to do. FDV Solutions' reaction was excellent. They stepped up their effort and we worked out a structure by which we wouldn't exhaust their developers.
What distinguishes FDV Solutions from other providers?
Their attention to detail is excellent. They have a proactive tendency to reflect what they're working on from a real world perspective. FDV Solutions also has a willingness to learn and improve their skill sets based on feedback. Any team will have its own strengths and weaknesses. Whenever you need a strength, it's best if you can train people for it, rather than hiring. FDV Solutions is continuously improving the bar as a whole. They continue to bring in talent that heightens their capabilities. As a partner, they're a growing pool of resources.
A lot of times, when looking at local or external partners, I found what I would call a PR [public relations] or agency model, whereby the firm will highlight the very smart and seasoned partner who has worked on amazing things and has a global experience, making you feel that he is the person who will be working in the trenches. The reality is that he will disappear. He's basically a business developer. You will then get introduced to his "colleague", and the service will become a code farm, essentially. This happens both in the US and abroad. It creates a lot of slowdown for companies like us.
FDV Solutions, on the other hand, is willing to move fast, and the people you're talking to are actually involved in the project. The quality and caliber of the work is higher than I would expect from any non-internal party.
Is there anything FDV Solutions could have improved or done differently?
There was a period within our first year and a half of working together when we wanted them to improve their design chops. They started bringing in new designers, which solved the problem. The software itself has always been a strength for them. Working with different backend enterprise technologies, they were already on the edge.