Please describe the scope of their involvement in greater detail.
It was about a 7-9 month long scope project. We were attempting to do something that really had not been done before in the industry. We had to use Toughbook because we needed something that was rugged for the environment, but one of our goals was to make it feel like you’re using an iPad application. We wanted it to be highly responsive. We also wanted to develop a dedicated software that basically ran in kiosk mode. Our previous software was a Windows program that the operator would click on to get it to engage and operate, and would then navigate from there. However, he had to deal with saving files to different folders. We were trying to move away from the headaches involved with Windows. We wanted this to be in kiosk mode where the only purpose of that computer was to run our equipment. That’s what we worked with Praxent to achieve.
Praxent essentially developed the user interface, which handled mapping and recording, that then displayed this feedback for the user. There were a lot of aspects to the process. Praxent also had to deal with the data acquisition. We were recording data every millisecond. There was a lot going on and we had to make sure we weren’t losing data, and that everything was displayed properly and was repeatable. Trying to get it to be easier to use and running by itself, while not displaying too many screens, was important to us.
One of the first people Praxent brought on was a graphic artist named Nick [Graphic Artist, Praxent], who was pretty incredible. It’s difficult to have that artistic flair that a lot of the big companies have, but Nick was very big in basically looking at what color schemes we were going to use. He was asking questions as far as, “Okay, where are they using this? If they’re inside this tank, is it dark in the tank? Is it bright in the tank? What’s the level light like?” They were very conscientious of the color scheme and how it looked relative to how it fit our brand as a small company. I did a lot of the initial artwork, like our logo and color schemes, thinking that I'd need to give them this. I didn't realize how involved they would be in the process, which impressed me, because it showed they cared about the presentation.
After that, they started asking some of the technical questions about what we are trying to accomplish with each screen, and then trying to figure out the least amount of data that we needed to get the final product. After all the mapping and data recording is complete, it generates an inspection report.
We had our own plan for Praxent to execute on the technical side, but they took care of the details and how it presented itself. A bulk of the project was planned to a T but there was a big 10% on the page that was just a question mark, and Praxent had the experience to come up with good solutions to those problems. Sometimes they would try something, and if it didn’t quite work the way we wanted it to, they’d try something else. They were definitely involved in jumping over some of the hurdles we ran into. It felt like they were there to help us get what we wanted, instead of them telling us what we need and want, and then us having to try and get them to listen to us. They embraced our vision and tried to do everything in their power to make it happen.
How did you come to work with Praxent?
I had to look at many options locally on the East and West Coasts, as well as Texas. We were looking for companies and navigating through their websites, trying to get a feel for what they could do. We had to make sure we weren’t engaging a software company that’s used to dealing with a $20 million project, but instead look for someone who works with small businesses.
When we met with the team at Praxent, Tim [Owner, Praxent] was extremely helpful in the interviewing process. He demonstrated not only what the company had done, but when we asked questions, he was very responsive and showed us software capable of doing exactly what we needed. Moment to moment, he was improvising the presentation, and it was very clear that he was listening and was onboard with what we were trying to accomplish. We were willing to spend more money to work with someone if we felt they were at least listening to what we had to say. It was important to us that the company we chose was affordable and were going to do what they said they would.
Working with Praxent was the first time we actually outsourced a company. Previously, we worked with an individual who helped us move from a physical electronic LED display to a computer system. We did as much as we could with that, and he did a really good job on the software, but he could only take it so far.
What surprised me the most with Praxent, was the start of the process and how they were able to really get a good idea of the look and feel. When we went through the quotation process, they gave us an actual working quick model of the software. It allowed us to actually click through the screens and show how it would feel and look, which was very impressive.
Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in financial terms?
The cost of the project was about $340,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with them February 2016 until December 2016.