Could you briefly describe your company?
With regard to Priocept, I was the head of online for Virgin Media or Virgin Mobile in Qatar. The organization that I worked for is a freelancing company that handles various contracts, of which Virgin Mobile was one of them, which is where I used Priocept for the implementation of Sitecore.
We work primarily with telecoms and related industry players. I’ve been with Orange UK, France Telecom, Virgin Mobile, O2, and Vodafone. More recently, I‘ve collaborated with a handful of travel companies.
Could you describe the business challenges you were attempting to address when you initiated the relationship with Priocept?
First of all, we were launching a brand new venture in Qatar. We had no technical infrastructure whatsoever. We had a network, and that was it. My mandate, as the head of online, was to define what the objectives and principles were for our site, how we were going to serve those, build an online presence that was both in Arabic and English that would be able to sell our products and services, and also support those users post purchase.
The key things that they helped us with, in fact, was the evaluation of content management systems in the market from very heavy weight, full commerce suites through to some of the lighter, pure content management systems that are out there. They helped us implement that system and most of the infrastructure design, including what that would mean in terms of hosting. They worked with us to design the actual application that was supported by the content management system. They also integrated with the planned gateway. It’s not our services that needed integrating down there at the local level in Qatar.
What content management system did they implement for you?
They implemented Sitecore. There was a content management evaluation of which Sitecore came out as the preferred solution for us. Then, it was the actual implementation of that and the subsequent development.
Could you describe the scope of the project? For example, did it involve custom design, backend development, training, and ongoing support?
The first part was the evaluation of the market, such as whether Sitecore was fitting for us. It wasn’t the only one, there was a couple of others, of which we or the company decided to consider. We also agreed with the recommendations where the actual license was directed to us rather than sold through. So, we have had a license direct with Sitecore. Then, Priocept developed in that license and in conjunction with the other partners as well.
How did you select Priocept as your partner for this project?
I had worked Dan Norris-Jones of Priocept, who was one of the founding partners, as well as Greg Murray. I remembered them when I knew I'd have to build a new application for Virgin. They went through a process along with a handful of other potential vendors. It came down to whether they had the skills to be able to implement the system and then develop on it. That was the key criterion. The other important criterion was their resource pool, and we were confident they'd have the coverage to handle the project scope.
Could you provide a sense of the size of this initiative in monetary terms?
We’re probably talking in the fringe of about $1.5 million.
When was the most recent project completed with them?
That was the only one that I’ve done with Priocept. That was in 2010, I think.
RESULTS & FEEDBACK
In terms of results, could you share any statistics, metrics, or user feedback that would demonstrate the effectiveness of the work they've delivered?
In terms of their core competency, it's absolutely in technology, very good at integrating, very good at finding solutions to problems that are probably unique to organizations. They’ve got a very strong group. It’s a small group of people but, on the integration side, they’re very good on how to you get the components to talk to each other, and how their solutions work. They’re very good there. Our system has performed very well. Few bugs emerged after the immediate launch and we were very impressed with the integrity of all of our data and documentation. Having experienced poor launches in the past, I wasn't necessarily sure what to expect, but our system works fantastically.
I think from an infrastructure design perspective, it’s their bread and butter. From a project delivery perspective, very good as well, particularly in the agile space. The thing with Priocept is our engagement went very well. We had some hiccups on the way, but they’re always upfront and honest about the challenges, both planned and unplanned. Which for me, as a client, I definitely enjoyed that. There’s knowing risks in someone telling me that it’s better than it actually is. They’re very realistic about the challenges that we had and the corresponding timelines. We started with literally nothing. From the time we engaged them and at the point that we actually knew what we wanted to go live was probably about five months. They’re pretty good in terms of launching a mobile site for a telco operator.
When working with Priocept, is there anything you would consider unique or special about them compared to other vendors with which you’ve worked?
They’re very much determined to give you a solution that’s going to work. We have a very good working relationship with Priocept. I think that smallness breeds that close [relationship] whereas some of the medium-sized companies don't offer that kind of attention, because your engagement might not be large enough to warrant so much time and effort. With small [companies], you become quite important. That’s a great effect of this. They've also been extremely upfront about issues that arise along the way. As I mentioned, we definitely ran into some challenges throughout the process, but they were addressed rapidly and wholeheartedly. We really admire that kind of work ethic.
Do you remain confident that the Sitecore CMS solution will continue to serve your business needs into the foreseeable future?
Sitecore is a very good lightweight content management system. If you look at say Verizon, so a few of some of the other big telcos out there, Sitecore will probably manage the content, but not necessarily the complexity of some of the merchandising that goes on. Sitecore has its place for certain. Sitecore can go a long way. It just really depends on how you want to use it. For us, the answer is maybe. We know we'll eventually grow out of it. Sitecore was definitely the right decision at the time and it continues to operate very well for us. When the limitations become too burdensome is when we'll consider transitioning to a more robust system.
We have five additional questions. For each of these, we ask that you rate Priocept on a scale of one to five, with five being the best score. How would you rate Priocept for the quality of work delivered?
I think a four. The only reason I say that is, I think that, because they’re small, they’re challenged by resources constraints because they can’t afford to have people on the bench. Their ability to flex resources on demand is one of their main limitations, but that's a small thing by comparison.
How would you rate them for scheduling, as in meeting deadlines and compliance with project schedules?
How would you rate them for cost, as in value for your money and conformance with the original cost estimates?
I think in terms of conformance to original estimates, I would say a five, purely because we were timing a large amount of materials and resources. I think in terms of conformance, it falls again a five.
How would you rate your overall experience collaborating with Priocept?
Excellent. I’ll put up there a five as well. I found them to be very good with us. They keep us informed and abreast of things. Communication is great. We could see what was coming up. It was an agile project, so it wasn’t fixed deliverables, we expect change on the way, and they managed that quite well.
How likely would you be to refer Priocept to a friend or a colleague of yours?
I would, with a caveat. They’re not a creative agency. These guys are integrators and implementers. They really understand the backend systems, how to manipulate them and modify them. However, from a design perspective, they really don't bring the same level of complexity and value. These guys are technical and that's how they position themselves.