Web Development for Online Livestock Auction Company
- Custom Software Development
- $1,000,000 to $9,999,999
- Mar. 2014 - Ongoing
- Willing to Refer
"Overall, Inverse-Square helps us prioritize what we should do first and what should be sidelined."
- Information technology
- Robinson, Illinois
- 1-10 Employees
- Phone Interview
The team conducts web development efforts for a livestock auctioning platform. Over the years, Inverse-Square has integrated many functions on the client's site such as accounting, invoices, listings, and more.
Inverse-Square has been delivering effective enhancements on the company's platform since 2014, especially on the UX aspect of the site. The team's responsible and communicative approach makes the ongoing engagement successful. Customers can expect a seamless workflow.
A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.
Introduce your business and what you do there.
We provide an online livestock auctioning platform. I’ve served a lot of roles in the time we’ve worked with Inverse-Square. The company started in 2013, it was just me and the two owners. I’m currently the admin team and tech manager but my primary role is to maintain the relationship with Inverse-Square.
OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE
What challenge were you trying to address with Inverse-Square?
Inverse-Square custom-built our auction platform.
What was the scope of their involvement?
The main service they provide is development. We went to Inverse-Square with just an idea and we had a lot of meetings with Bob (Founder & President). They were tasked to complete our auction platform and have made multiple updates and enhancements to it over the years. The team always adds or tweaks things on the accounting and auction management sides, helping improve the experience for users and our backend team.
To someone outside our industry, the platform will look like a kind of eBay for livestock. Our clients hire us to sell their animals and we collect all the data, pictures, and videos for those and upload them to the platform. Users bid on the animals in a way that emulates what would’ve been a live auction and the bidding will typically open in the morning and close at night. Additionally, users can also favorite listings and view them all on one page.
There are also some custom features on the accounting side, like automatic reminders that are sent out at 3–5-day marks. The system also sends out automated text messages about invoices. When someone’s been outbid on a lot, they will be notified by text message and receive a link to bid again.
Inverse-Square and our company built out the platform in its raw state in the beginning and we added features as we grew. I started working for the company in 2013 before we had a platform. There’s automation for a lot of the upload process, the backend accounting, and money management – we’ve had tremendous growth since then.
What is the team composition?
The team’s grown and changed over the years but Bob has always been one of our main contacts. Right now, Emily (Project Manager) is my primary point of contact when it comes to organizing everything on the Inverse-Square’s end. We have two QA people who also write the requirements and they take part in many of our meetings.
Bob is still the head of everything and he’s had a hand in our project from the very beginning. He was our primary developer in 2014 and he’s overseeing the programming team now just because he has a lot of history with our project. We also have three primary developers working on the project continuously and there are others stepping in as needed.
How much have you invested with them?
The total cost of the project since the start is over $1 million.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with Inverse-Square in the spring of 2014 and we’ve had steady work with them since then. For the fall of 2020, we have a retainer contract with them for almost 200 hours per month.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
UX is our number one guide on whether what we’re doing is right or not so we don’t look at statistics too much. It took us about a year to get the platform off the ground in 2014 so we didn’t start hosting sales until then. 2015 was our first season of sales and the focus has been looking at different pieces of the system and how we can improve them. In that aspect, we’ve made huge improvements in the last five years and we continue to do so.
The collaboration’s been massively successful. We can go to Inverse-Square with an idea for improving the UX in a specific place and they’ll take it and give us alternatives A, B, and C to choose from. The team always takes responsibility for the warranty work that needs to be done. If something happens and it’s linked to something that should’ve been caught by their testing team, they’re always willing to correct it.
How did Inverse-Square perform from a project management standpoint?
I have 30–60-minute standing calls twice a week with their project manager and probably multiple calls and emails in-between with their entire programming team. They ensure that we’re always updated on the progress and that all our questions are answered. They’re really good with communication and we have as much access as we want to them.
We do a lot of fixed-bid contracts with them which seems to be what we’ve fallen into and what works best for us. If we’re about to go off a deadline, Inverse-Square is good at communicating it early in the process. Based on things that were uncovered during the early development days, they can tell when something’s going to take a bit longer than anticipated or requires more testing. Overall, Inverse-Square helps us prioritize what we should do first and what should be sidelined.
We also have what we call a “911 number” which I believe they set up via Google. We can send text messages to the entire Inverse-Square team in emergency situations, from the project manager to the QA people and developers. We use the number if something happens after hours or is otherwise in need of immediate work. The same is true with email, we can send emails to the entire team quickly, they’re there 24 hours a day. That’s been huge for us given that much of what our platform does is time-sensitive. If we didn’t have access to Inverse-Square when we needed them, it would be detrimental to our business.
What did you find most impressive about them?
My company started as a team of three and we’re a team of 30 now. Inverse-Square has also grown a lot since we started and the primary thing that set them apart in the early days was the innovation and talent of their team and how good they were at communicating.
We tried a couple of different programming companies but we never got too far with them because communication was too difficult – there was definitely a gap there. My bosses hired me to be an in-between because they don’t have that much background in any kind of development or internet technology. Communication would be extremely difficult for people that couldn’t break things down in a language my bosses could understand but that was a primary draw to Inverse-Square, along with their ability to take our ideas and how they develop them into a practical system.
My bosses were the idea guys but they didn’t know how to get from point A to point B. Despite that struggle, it helps that Inverse-Square has always been able to say where the roadmap is and what directions we could take. We’re still in the driver’s seat but they’re giving us the map to go where we want to go.
Are there any areas they could improve?
I don’t think that this is something Inverse-Square could prevent but the biggest pain point for us was when we’ve had to change staff. Our system is extremely complex and it’s been developed over multiple years so developing knowledge of it and its history is difficult for someone new. We’ve changed project managers and we’ve lost lead developers and other people had to step in without much background, losing employees isn’t preventable though.
Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?
Aside from having a primary contact, the most important thing for us has been developing a relationship with the team. I had a lot of roles in the company in the beginning but I’m currently dedicated to developing ideas on our end and working with Inverse-Square, the work needs that much attention. To someone else looking to work with them, I’d recommend having someone on their end assigned to managing the collaboration.
Service & Deliverables
"They can take abstract ideas from us and put them into a tangible product for our customers."
On time / deadlines
"Hitting deadlines has been one of the harder things for us to do consistently, either because we changed the scope or they ran into complexities."
Value / within estimates
"Programming work is expensive but the value Inverse-Square brings is definitely worth it."
Willing to Refer5.0