Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
The site right now is probably 85% functional. It won’t become fully functional until the festival, which is this May. A lot of the little glitches that we find on the website don’t happen until people start registering and showing up. When I take a look at Basecamp and I see the things that are going on, if somebody is registering and they’re trying to get some information and they get an error message, they let us know. Noble Pixels jumps on it and corrects it. There’s going to be lots of little bugs like that. We fully knew that and I don’t think that’s any different from any other interactive type of website. There’s always going to be bugs because everybody’s going to be using different computers and platforms.
We send out a newsletter in September to 6,000 music educators. Between now and April, we get their responses and those are part of the registration process. When we announce next year’s festival in September, they have until April to register their groups, so it’s sort of dribbling in all the time. As far as the number of people who have been on the site, that information is not important to us as much as registration. Registration means we get money. I do know that we have a very active social media group that cross-references the MusicFest website for Facebook. A lot of our volunteers and students get involved in that often. Quite frankly, a lot of that would be directed to the actual website for information. It’s really an information website for people that are coming to the festival. The metrics that would probably be appropriate from your standpoint, I’m not sure I could comment on that.
How did Noble Pixels perform from a project management standpoint?
Our executive director understands what has to be done. He’s very hands-on, so he’s probably the project manager by definition. Since we had a previous project, I have a good understanding of the way Nobel Pixels work. I also get a copy of all the communications between Nobel Pixels and our executive director. As a slight outsider in this process, the overriding impression that I get is that their communication with their clients is incredibly detailed. I’ve spent 30 years in the advertising agency business, and one of the things that always apparent to me is that tech people—and I’m not trying to incriminate anybody—tend to be incredibly good at what they do, but terrible about communicating it. I was pleased to see that Noble Pixels uses a platform called Basecamp. They are incredibly detailed and diligent about keeping it current daily. I can go on Basecamp and take a look at the communication and conversations between MusicFest and Noble Pixels at any time. I don’t have to ask somebody for a status report. Obviously, I can ask questions if it’s appropriate, but that information is for me. That certainly gives me comfort, knowing that we are moving in the right direction. I can see that nobody has disappeared for a couple of weeks and we can’t find them. Sometimes, our needs are urgent and they quickly respond. We have situations with the website where there’s been a problem and we got an hour to fix it. They have been very good at that type of detail.
What did you most impressive about Noble Pixels?
Usually, I would be the most critical about responsiveness and communication of what is going on. Noble Pixels’ team hasn’t disappeared on me. They haven’t gone dark. They have always been there. There’s always somebody to immediately address the issue. They are extremely good at following up. There’s nothing in the background. I don’t have to look 2 or 3 weeks ago to see what needs to be done. They’re on top of that all the time. In my mind, that’s probably the most important thing. When you don’t hear from somebody and you know you’re paying, you wonder, “Are they there working for me or have they gone off?” I can satisfy my curiosity by going on Basecamp. I’ve never really had to worry about things falling through the cracks because it’s never happened.
There are a group of young guys. They’re really good at what they do and they’re certainly passionate about it. Having talked to most of them, I think there are two guys that are right out of school that are incredibly smart, and the other guy has worked with a core group for another client for a couple of years. The group said, “We’re alike people. Let’s go out and start a business together.” They’re certainly keen.
Are there any areas Noble Pixels could improve?
Every once in a while, there is a misunderstanding or something like that. It’s not life or death, but you kind of wish it would go a different way. Sometimes, we would ask them to do things that were above and beyond the original agreement. Sometimes, those requests get blurred. If there is anything that I would’ve felt more comfortable with, a monthly accounting would’ve been nice. Just to show that “This is how much we have spent so far, this is where it’s been spent, this is what the budget is, and we’re on budget.” In fairness to them, we’re almost trying to hit a moving target. As we go through all the requirements of our website, there have been things that they just had no idea how to be done.
That’s probably the most important thing. You can judge whether they’re doing good work, you can judge whether they understand the technology, but the last thing you want to do is “The website’s up but, I’m sorry, we’re 40% over budget.” Quite frankly, I would say to any supplier I would deal with, “How are you going to report the financial budgetary and planning things to us? How often are you going to do it?” I think that would be critical. Again, we know where we are. We know where we have been hard on them. We know where we have pushed them and asked for some things that may not have been part of the original quote, but that’s the nature of this business. If we thought we were going to get a website for $50,000 and they were going to hand it to us, life would be perfect, but that’s a little unrealistic.