In terms of results, could you provide any statistics, metrics, or anecdotal feedback that would demonstrate the effectiveness of the work they’ve delivered?
We’ve got a second project that just moved to completion. In that case, they were providing business analysis. We’ve also had a separate development project that’s gone online. They developed a custom application that would support the assessment of originality. There was a designer at our college conducting research on how people go about formulating and sustaining originality. One of the measures for that is simply the number of ideas you can generate within a set period of time through a visual stimulus.
They came up with an application for assessing that sort of thing. Essentially, what it does is it prompts you with a picture, and then gives you a 90-second timer. Within that context, the user receives a short text field, and then they’re supposed to submit as many ideas as they possibly can. At the conclusion of the timer, it will give you a count and a list of all of the ideas you submitted. They had a 30-day window for delivering that particular application, and that included everything from the initial design all the way through deployment.
Do you remain confident that the Drupal platform will continue to meet your organizational needs, both strategic and functional, into the foreseeable future?
It should be usable in the foreseeable future. Currently, we are hosted in a multihomed environment here. We’ve got eight nodes for this particular Drupal setup for the Originality Assessment Engine. I think we’ve been lucky in that, in aggregate, there have been a lot of users. We haven’t been in a normal situation, if you want to call it that.
Our primary issues have little to do with Drupal itself. We currently have the majority of the university sites physically hosted on premises. This really limits our potential for growth, and the maintenance costs really accumulate in time. By comparison, our new Drupal site is hosted using Amazon Web Services, which has some serious elasticity in terms of provisioning. Down the road, we may need to transition to that kind of hosting environment.
When working with Origin Eight, is there anything you would consider special or unique about their methodology or approach that distinguishes them from other vendors you’ve used in the past?
They’ve been more flexible than a lot of vendors I’ve had to work with during the past in the sense that they’ve been able to deal with all of the challenges and limitations we’ve thrown their way. Their life would have been easier if they would have been hosting. They actually have their own hosting service. If we’d been hosting with them, they would have been able to control more of it, but they’ve been completely open and willing to work within our constraints.
This may not necessarily be unique to Origin Eight, but it’s the first time I’ve worked with a team like this, and they’re very distributed. They have a fair number of team members working on the East Coast that honestly I won’t ever meet. Their principals I’ve met face to face, but everybody else I’ve dealt with virtually. They do have a very nice suite of online collaboration tools that have been very useful. I wish we’d implement them here internally with our onsite development staff simply because it made it possible for us to work together in an environment where none of interact on a face-to-face basis.
Between Basecamp, Hot Glue, and Envision, a lot of them we’ve also used, they’ve got four or five online environments that they’re coordinating through Basecamp. These tools and their communication skills have really given me a 360-degree view how things are going, which means I don’t have to be pestering them about how things are progressing constantly.
In retrospect, are there areas you think Origin Eight could improve upon, or are there things you’d do differently as the client before initiating a project of this scale and complexity with them?
I can’t think of anything to criticize them on in particular. There are always things about this project that I wish I had thought more about before I contacted anybody, but nothing specific to them. Most of the challenges we faced were internal by nature, rather than a result of our vendor.