Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
Our site actually works. We had an unimaginable number of bugs in the early stages. Pieoneers has made it look fantastic. Everything works, people are happy with the site, and we've received great feedback. We haven't annoyed any experts yet. We feel so confident in the site that we're planning to have a major recruitment push at the start of the academic year. Beyond the technical aspects, Pieoneers asked questions that we didn't think of asking. Pieoneers helped us think through who our users were and what steps made sense in getting them to sign up. They helped us figure out what our user experience should be in terms of strategy.
How did Pieoneers perform from a project management standpoint?
We've appreciated Pieoneers not only for their technical skills but also their organizational know-how. Our technical director is the former grad student who initially built the site. He's interacted with Pieoneers through Bitbucket and Asana. We've interacted with at least 6 to 7 people from Pieoneers. We've worked directly with a project manager who relays our requests to designers, developers, and testers. We share a Basecamp conversation, so I can see him communicating with them. For certain design issues, including mockups, we will communicate directly with our designer. I've mainly used Basecamp for working with Pieoneers.
One of the big innovations made by Pieoneers was to streamline all the interactions that our historian team had. We were using email and Google Docs. That meant we had a generally confused line of communication. Pieoneers centralized everything on Basecamp, giving us a clear workflow. We have features which we want to see. These features are ranked in a certain order. We have separate Basecamps for our internal team so that we don’t need to provide every single step of the reasoning process to Pieoneers. We've got to-do lists, a running bug list, as well as an urgent one. The workflow has been great. We're academics, so it was great to have Pieoneers handle this kind of stuff.
What did you find most impressive about Pieoneers?
This is the only tech firm that I've worked with, so I don't have a point of comparison. It has been night-and-day in terms of clarity and efficiency, compared to working with anyone in academia, though. One of the things that attracted us to Pieoneers was that they seemed to understand the nature of our project. For example, the psychological profile of our user base isn't immediately clear. In many cases, we're interacting with older academics who aren't very comfortable with computers. Pieoneers' team have gone out of their way to design our process and make those people comfortable.
Are there any areas Pieoneers could improve?
The only issue we've had was vacation planning. If people become absent, it's not immediately clear what the chain of command is and whom we should contact. This happened over the holiday season when we had some bugs. We've cleared this up with Pieoneers. They've gotten clearer about communicating who the contact person is at any given time.