Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
RNF Technologies has done a good job in terms of SEO. We monitor our 50 keywords closely and haven't lost any ground after switching websites. In fact, we've managed to move ahead a bit. RNF’s web developer is working closely with our SEO person. They can talk to each other, making sure that the content on my blog compliments the SEO. Different components can dovetail together.
I am looking towards selling my entire site along with its 2,100 items within the next 2 years. I think that the additional $20,000 I've put into the development will more than come back to me due to having an app and auctioning platform as part of the offering.
How did RNF Technologies perform from a project management standpoint?
RNF Technologies made a point of assigning us one contact with whom we meet for one hour twice a week over Skype. If we needed to meet more often, he was open to it and generally replied to emails right away. We've set up some checklists for bugs on Google Docs sheets. We discuss the action items in our meetings and structure them well. We haven't dealt with many people under our contact.
His boss has spent a bunch of time with us, trying to get to know our business and asking questions. He wanted to match my personality style with that of our future project manager. Having worked in the mental health field for 30 years, I agree that the different working styles people have need to match. I can be very demonstrative and emotional, getting upset easily at times; I'm very attached to my website. The person we were hooked up with was a good fit. We even got into heated debates at times, which from the outside looked as if we were angry at each other, but we weren't.
We always mentioned that this is because of how much we cared about what we were doing. Our manager is 24 years old, while I'm 60 and remind him of his father. We both care about the work, and RNF’s principal did a good job of matching the project manager with me. Especially since we're so far away, it was an extremely important thing to do. If that match had not been done well, it would have been problematic. He is extremely bright and wants the work to come out well. I promised to send him one of the pieces from my collection as a way for him to remember our work together.
What did you find most impressive about RNF Technologies?
Many people to whom I've talked about their work with companies in India have felt that they were lied to and ripped off. RNF Technologies may have overcommitted at times, but I never felt that someone in their team lied, was dishonest, or did anything except trying to provide us really good service. If RNF was not able to do something, it was out of good intent.
There are cultural differences and language barriers when working with people from other countries, but if I was to do the work over again, I would do it again with the same people. The bonuses have definitely outweighed whatever took extra time or communication.
I had a spreadsheet with the locations of my entire inventory, which needed to be manually introduced for each item. We talked about this in the beginning, but I don't think that RNF had a clear idea of exactly how much manual work would be involved. They still went ahead and did it all. Fortunately, the project ended up being much better, so the extra work averaged out. Even so, RNF never came back trying to get another $500 or $1,000 from us. RNF Technologies stuck to the original agreement.
Are there any areas RNF Technologies could improve?
When we first started working with RNF, our contact had mostly worked with much more technical clients than me. He had usually dealt with companies that had IT staff to assist in rebuilding websites and other tasks. Our manager didn't understand that I had no understanding of even the terminology that an average 16-year-old would know. I grew up in a world with dial telephones and was completely illiterate when it came to technology. He needed to talk in a different language and dumb things down. We had some miscommunication in the beginning, due to assumptions he was making about what I already knew, but we did get to a place of understanding and things got a lot better. I don't think this is unique to him. He was young, and I was one of the first non-technical people he'd encountered.
The website is a technical product, so this type of language was actually necessary. It was a real challenge for him to bridge this gap. He had to educate me, and I had to educate myself.
I worked as a social worker for many years and built the website as a side-business. It grew on its own, and I started working on it more after retiring. Most of the other projects our contact had were with companies with technical staff. I had similar issues with all other companies I approached about building a website, and I even had trouble deciphering their offerings.
When there's a problem, I want to have it fixed right away and get a hold of RNF’s rep; but when working across the world, there is a logistical challenge. He usually gets back to me early the next morning, and the problem is generally fixed within the same day.
We have kept the 90-day target of the website as well as all other deadlines, so I have no serious criticisms for RNF Technologies. All-in-all, the collaboration has worked surprisingly well. It would have cost me between $75,000 and $100,000 to do the same kind of work in the US.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with RNF Technologies?
It may be specific to me as a non-technical person, but it's important to be clear about what it is the client wants. We talked with RNF about our auction platform and added another $5,000 to our budget for it, putting the work on the shelf until we finished the actual website. RNF first showed me what the platform would look like; basically a modified Magento platform. I thought it was terrible, but there was no way for RNF to have known this because they had never been involved in the auction world and were simply utilizing the newest Magento module for the purpose. I spend a couple of hours per day at online auctions and understand how they need to work in order to be effective for my purposes, but I never explained this in detail. RNF was also unclear about what the auction solution included, and we only figured out that the two didn't meet until it was way late in the process.
Fortunately, we had a good enough relationship with RNF in order to take what we had and turn it into something good. Our contact was willing to put in the extra work in order to redo letters and customizations, so we will end up having something which is fine for my purposes. Sometimes, you don't know what you don't know until you do it once. RNF Technologies was actually willing to give me back my money, but we all agreed that it would be better for everyone to put in some extra work and make it right. I felt that our contact learned from the experience, and he will work better the next time doing something similar, as will I. This is not a complaint, but rather a wrinkle.
98% of clients' interaction will be with the project manager, so it's important to find the right person.