Describe the impact this engagement has had on your business.
We designed and refined the app to offer a level of precision in its tagging capacity and output—to be valuable enough that a broadcaster and/or content creator would pay for it. The beta results were horrific, partially due to poor testing with 50 broadcast professionals across the country. After six weeks, it has 64 downloads, but not a single person has paid for it. We’ve gotten some very nice feedback from people, but they ultimately did not buy.
While the core functionality of the app works on the surface, it is not what it had been designed to do. A number of missing core elements and bug issues arose in late 2017 but were never solved. Those were core functionality issues that cheapened or lessened the strategic value of the app, as it relates to our client base.
How was project management handled?
This project was developer-driven, and they were sprinting and working within an Agile Scrum environment. It became very clear to us early on—in fact, it was noted numerous times internally—that, as problems came up, they tended to leapfrog them and head toward the next target in order to meet their internal schedules. The problems they were skipping were not the kinds of issues that could be dealt with at the very end because development needed to progress chronologically.
They used a number of project management tools to track the progress, and we received a recap of the discussion at the end of each Monday meeting. In that sense, all was well. The owner was an important voice, and he added relevant experience.
However, we were well aware they were not addressing the aforementioned problems. Despite our constant reminders, the team promised revisions in the app’s next iteration. The next version never arrived, and they stopped communicating to a large degree.
Is there anything that the vendor did well or that you would consider a strength?
At the very beginning, in October 2017, they were helpful in their approach to determine the app’s look and feel. They improved our original ideas ever so slightly with some intelligent input.
In what specific areas can they improve?
Outside of the aforementioned Scrum and workflow issues, everything went south just prior to beta. They dropped the ball just as we needed them to coordinate with our sales and marketing staff in Manhattan. They also did not appreciate how Apple manages its review process for new apps. We asked to add PayPal as a portal through which our users could potentially pay for the app. They charged us $7,000 for the development of that and later reported that Apple was no longer allowing apps to be equipped with PayPal. This came well after we paid, and they did not return that money to us. We lost that money as well as three weeks of development time.
What advice do you have for clients with similar needs to yours?
I would insist on better project oversight and management. I probably would have demanded that the project administrator be swapped out, if not once, maybe twice or three times throughout the lifespan of the project in order to ensure proper leadership.
Is there anything else you can note about the project?
Whenever the team reached a new milestone, they requested payment immediately. As an example, we would receive an invoice on a Monday, and they would demand payment by Wednesday in order to continue. This was after we had paid $30,000–$40,000, so we were well into the five-figure range. They did not understand that 30-day or two-week receivables are normal and that no accounts payable department has the kind of mechanism in place to just jump and pay.
What is the current status of the engagement? Are there any steps you’ve taken to resolve the issues with them, to try to continue the work on the project?
We’ve had multiple members of our staff in contact with them: myself, our projects manager, as well the head of strategic development in Manhattan. Their answers have been curt, saying they have received our messages and that they will get back to us shortly. We have received nothing else.