Please describe the scope of their involvement in greater detail.
We wanted to build a new web UI application which was different from the typical SaaS [software as a service] model employed by other companies. We still wanted to deliver a traditional application server from a computer and provide a good UI experience. Monterail has its own design team which specializes on that side of things, so before any code was implemented, they put together scenarios, stories, user-mapping, and mockups in order to tease out the overarching business value and the workflows which we needed to solve to come up with what we intended to do. In comparison to other consultancy models, by which we would simply dive into the implementation, Monterail wanted to create some preliminary designs and storyboards together, before they committed to any code. This gave us an upfront view of what we were getting.
Monterail put together a team, advised us on our initial plan, and added resources to speed the process up as we got to the crunch. Monterail assigned a project manager for work coordination, a technical lead, and a number of backend, frontend, and UX design engineers for our initial 6-month run of the project. Our initial project lead left the company but was replaced quickly.
After the initial UX design phase, we determined that the scope was more complicated than anticipated. For the last cycle during 2016, we ramped-up the team in order to deliver a much more complex UI. For our current cycle, the size of Monterail's team reached its peak capacity, numbering around 9 members. We're looking to undertake some side projects which wouldn't impact the core development, but which could deliver separate bits of value.
How did you come to work with Monterail?
It was suggested that we evaluate some nearshore options from Eastern Europe, where there is a slightly lower cost-base and a good talent pool. We put together a rough scope and evaluated a number of consultancies. There are a number of companies in Poland specializing in web UI Ruby development, and we narrowed the search to 4–5 companies there out of a list of 10, whittling them down based on near-term availability and on-site discussions. We wanted to see if there was a fit and whether they could do the job.
We put together a detailed brief, based on which Monterail had a conversation with us, trying to determine what we were aiming to solve. Those initial meetings gave us a sense that there was a real capability on Monterail's part for grasping the challenge, even though they weren't necessarily domain experts in it. They were able to get up to speed effectively and to start asking questions while also providing their own input into what we could try. We want to work with people who, instead of agreeing with us, will provide insight into how something should be done.
Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?
The cost of Monterail's work has been around $1,000,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with Monterail in October 2014. We will always want more after achieving an initial application. The product is still in its infancy, but we've gotten quite a lot of feedback from the field, which we've used for reworks and additional feature development. The product has turned into a feature-rich, complex application from multiple points of view.