Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
One of the things we look at is understanding the requirements of any project we go into. The toughest thing about any software project is the overruns and change requests that come with it. We’re not professional requirements writers, and when our staff writes the requirements, there’s always something missing. So, if we have a project quoted at $150,000, we look at what we end up paying.
One of the biggest things we look at is our cost overrun of any project on which ITCube works, whether it’s fixed-price or time and material, but estimated based on our requirements. From that metric, we’ve found that we’re running at 121%. Even though we have a 21% overrun, we really find that about 75% of that is based on us not doing the right level of requirements. We create our own change requests because we weren’t clear on our expectations.
The reliability and stability of their work is very good. I have a couple people working on requirements, testing, and feedback on the new system. These people say that it’s so much easier when we work with ITCube, as they understand our business completely. They have a good understanding of what we say. From a reliability and trust perspective, it’s very high with them. They truly understand our business and the goal of every project before they start work, to ensure they’re aligned with us in achieving that goal.
How did ITCube Solutions perform from a project management standpoint?
We get weekly status reports of everything that is ongoing. They understand who the key people are internally. They are always updating their project plan for us. If they feel we are in danger of missing a deadline, they come to us a week or two before to ensure we provide what’s needed to get on track. If they have their own delay, they talk to us in detail about the issue and what they’re going to do to resolve it and move forward. We definitely feel that we’re well-informed throughout the process.
We use a Microsoft product called TFS to log all the bugs, queries, and supporting data they need for a project. If they need a schedule to build a table in the system, we attach it there. We’re using that to document everything. It’s similar to Google Docs, where you’re sharing information back and forth. As you file a bug, you can attach things to that bug to support it. You can link a bug to a user story that they’re writing or a requirements document. For the project plans, they use a combination of Microsoft Visio, Excel, and Project.
What did you find most impressive about ITCube Solutions?
It’s really their dedication to us and their ability to be on call. Part of their operation is in the U.S., and part of it is in India. From that perspective, they’re ready to pull an all-nighter to talk to us during our day hours or at our convenience.
Are there any areas ITCube Solutions could improve?
I can’t think of anything. I feel that they understand what we expect. I think they’re running optimally from that perspective. The last few projects have gone off without any corrective action needed.
Over the years, we have had areas for improvement. We’re a company that runs on lean principles. One of the biggest things for us is that you must have a detailed plan, and expectations need to be extremely clear, with the metrics to measure what should be happening. They were okay at this, but we took them to a new level. Our CEO is an expert when it comes to lean and six sigma. From that perspective, the disciplines we asked them to do since 2008 have really paid dividends for them and for us. We’re very confident that we can look at a report and know exactly where we stand in everything we do. They didn’t have that expertise in the past, but we now feel confident that they do.