Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We define success with them in terms of whether or not they program, develop, and engineer this software according to the specs. We had a very specific functionality that we look for. So if they deliver that functionality, that’s a huge success. We’re now at the point where we’re testing the software over thousands of use cases. If the software works on a huge data set, that’s success for us. They’ve been able to deliver all the time. We were shocked because they are building it from scratch. We gave them enough so that they understood the concept and the idea, but they ended up taking it in a whole new direction. They’re really sophisticated in what they do.
There aren’t any bugs that aren’t detected by them. Last week, we spent the whole day testing the software over many use cases. We were in a room in Austin working with their developers. Everyone on the team is connected—if not in person in the room, then connected by video feed. We were testing the software and data was being put to the server. As the data was coming in, they were fixing problems right there on the spot. It was pretty incredible.
For software development, you’re going to release an update, and there might be something wrong with it. When we released the first version, all of us on the team would test it and take screenshots of the error message we got, and then they would fix it. When we notice errors, we just tell them about it, and they fix it.
How did Praxent perform from a project management standpoint?
They have their own project management tool that they use that broke this entire project down to the very small actual steps. Each step is put into a column. For example, if we’re starting a project today with twelve steps, all twelve steps are put in the first column. They have a system where step one might be set up a database, so the first step in that process is something like identify the appropriate database structure. Once that step is done, it’s moved into the next column. Each step moves across a column based on how far along it is to be completed. Every morning, we can see each step and where it’s at in terms of completion. With every step, they identify red flags or anything that they need from us. If there’s a red flag with something, it's an issue that they’re currently working on, so they share that with us. We know with every step how far along it is to be completed, what red flags exist if any, what they’re doing to resolve those red flags, and if it’s information they need from us, we know we have to provide that.
They have a very clear process where they manage every step of the project and we get those updates every morning in our 10-minute stand-up meetings. Every week, we have a weekly one-hour progress update where we review the accomplishments from the week before and what the objectives are for the week ahead. The agenda is all dictated by them based on the requirements that we give them. We’ll comment that this isn’t a priority anymore, so we can move that to a later technical spike. Everything is broken down into technical spikes. It’s a really meticulous process.
What did you find most impressive about Praxent?
If they take your project, they’re really good at not only owning the project, but they get so passionate about what they do and solving problems. Their entire mission is to fix the problem that you’re having or deliver the piece of technology that you’re asking them to deliver. They even make suggestions when appropriate if they think we’re way off base on something. They instill this level of passion that I've never seen with any other development company, and I've worked with a lot of them. Everybody on our team has been working for some Silicon Valley startups for a long time. Their whole modus operandi is we want to help you disrupt your industry, we want to help you be the industry leader, and they bring that level of passion to your project. We get up every morning and feel like they’re a part of our team.
Are there any areas Praxent could improve?
That’s tough. I don’t have a lot to comment on that. So far, we’re right on track on what we’re trying to accomplish.