Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
The whole redesign took 2–3 months, and we really loved the results. It only needs to be implemented by our development team, and that is where we went wrong. Unfortunately, we’re still struggling to see how we can implement their work. It’s a big thing that will take a year to build, which is not an option. This means that it didn’t have any direct business impact so far, which I don’t like.
As of last week, Online Department has become an integral part of our day-to-day work. Since we work in 1-week sprints, that means the first result of their work will be in the product this Thursday. That’s when we can start seeing and measuring the impact they have on our users. That was something we didn’t do well, which I partly blame myself for, but it’s also something they could have done better. Now, I think we have an approach that I prefer. It is much more effective for us and much more agile.
What I really like about Online Department is their flexibility, which means their knowledge has an impact on our product pretty quickly. Their flexibility helped me change the project without changing the contract. They have a proven track record of working with companies like ours.
How did Online Department perform from a project management standpoint?
They perform very well. We have a very simple approach. Each Wednesday, a couple of their guys work at our office. We did struggle a bit because Wednesday is also a very busy day for our development team. It’s the last day of the sprint, and they have to do stand-ups and retrospectives. They were really flexible about that. I think they do a great job here, and I’m happy about that.
What did you find most impressive about Online Department?
The guy in charge of project management and coaching came up with different approaches we could use. We design new things, and we come up with innovations. It is hard to get a feeling for how much value they will add to the business, so it’s sort of an educated guess. Fortunately, Online Department came up with a methodology that allows us, with very simple and short efforts, to measure impact before actually building something. That is something I really like, and we’ve implemented it for all the innovations that we are doing. Since I’m a bit distant from product development, it gives me much more insight. More importantly, it helps us make decisions on what to build or what not to build.
Another thing, the guy that was working with us as a graphical designer is extremely good. He could do designs maybe 10 or 20 times faster than my own designer, and they were better as well. Although he was a bit more expensive, it was much more productive and cheaper in the end.
Are there any areas Online Department could improve?
I think that working with a remote team is a challenge, especially for communication. Aside from having cultural and time differences, we also had a conflict of interest. We solved that by getting some people to The Netherlands and getting them in 1 room. I think that could have been better. The other thing is the fact that we created something that is very hard for us to implement in a relatively short time. We should have found a much more agile way for that than we did. With their experience, they should have seen that coming and advised us a bit better.