What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
It's a fairly in-depth, multitasking type of system where we've tried to create many, many layers of automation so the user interface is one that doesn't require a lot of human intervention – we want the system to know what to do - there's rules built into it. From that standpoint, I think it's fairly complicated. It has processes that happen very quickly that are automatic and seamless. The potential number of transactions nationwide that could go through our system is roughly a million and a half transactions per month. Currently, our system handles 4,000-5,000 transactions monthly. About 9,000-10,000 appraiser-users are on the system. That doesn't mean they're all working at the same time and every monthly, it just means that we have that many appraisers stored. There’s a similar number of client-users so we've got maybe twenty thousand active users on the system at any given time.
What did you find most impressive about them?
They're able to show us potentially more than one solution to get to where we are going, even though we know our industry better than they do. Our initial idea of how we'd want something to perform can be mitigated or changed based upon what they say and how they might look at it. They have not only an understanding of our marketplace but also an understanding of what we're trying to achieve. They were able to give us more than one possible solution. Oftentimes, the approach that we thought might be the best may not be based upon how they can solve that problem. They’re not just doing whatever we tell them to do regardless. They're actually stopping and analyzing it and seeking optimal solutions. We work very well together because they'll come back with ideas around other options. Oftentimes, they make suggestions that I think are more user-friendly and more efficient. They've clearly bought into the business model that we built and really understand it.
Are there any areas they could improve?
The only somewhat challenge I've had is the time to deliver what we're hoping for. It’s different not working beside the developer. I guess you could say we had a failure of one of the initiatives that we had. We finally just called it off because it was never delivered. I don't know how many hundreds of hours were spent trying to figure it out but it was never achievable. Fortunately, the client that requested it didn't seem to hold our feet to the fire on it so we just kind of let it die its own death. They estimate man-days of development time but that doesn't always require the same number of calendar days. Thirty man-days could be 90 calendar days. That's been a little bit of a challenge trying to understand time estimates. It may not be an issue with SaM specifically, as much as it is just the way development is done. When somebody is estimating how much time they think they're going to have put into on effort, that doesn't mean they're working every minute of every day of every week of every month on your project. That’s probably the only issue I've ever really had.
What recommendations would you have for someone who is considering hiring them?
I’d recommend to anyone that they understand who they’re doing business with and feel comfortable with that group. I think you should know the company as a whole, including its strength, it's longevity in the industry, their issue resolution style, their management structure, etc. With SaM, you're not just stuck with the problem if, for instance, you're not getting along with your project manager. You could ask them to do something else or intervene. I think that their management style and structure has been awesome.