What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
The quality is good. It’s not to say they get it right the first try every time, but it’s not bad at all. They were supportive in working together with us to fix bugs. We sometimes had to nudge them a bit, and sometimes, they had to wait for us. Overall, I can’t complain because nothing is ever right on the first try. We were happy as long as they worked according to schedule, which they mostly did.
How did Simtech Development perform from a project management standpoint?
Their project management was good. We had a small bout where we had provided timelines to them and they to us but ended up going beyond them after the project started. Some of that was because our requirements evolved and we had to build on extra features, but some of it was because we didn’t quite get what we expected the first time.
There was some additional testing required. In the case of one leaked requirement, we were left scrambling to get things done according to the expected timeline. To be fair with Simtech, it was a late requirement. On the other hand, they gave us an estimate of timelines when we paid them that they didn’t quite meet, which frustrated me a bit. I wouldn’t have minded if I would’ve known it was going to take a little longer.
Overall—and certainly over the last six months—they’ve been really good, and I’m really happy. They took responsibility for some things on their end to improve matters. There are going to be rough patches when working with a development partner for longer than a year. What felt like a completely clear requirement on our end was interpreted a bit differently at times once it had been translated and interpreted in Russian. They mostly got it right on the first try. Their ability to understand English is much better than my ability to understand Russian.
What did you find most impressive about them?
Their ability to deal effectively in a second language is quite impressive in and of itself. Their knowledge of the core product and ability to configure it is very good. When doing development work, there are always going to be mismatches in expectations and requirements. Things may not be right the first time, but we do have a very good first-time hit rate.
Normally, if we get our requirements right, then we get what we expect and can test out with a minimum number of bugs. However, we have had some complex bugs. I have had one or two conversations with them over the course of the last year about this. They’ve handed us things that were supposed to be fit to go live but ended up having quite a lot of bugs that they should’ve found.
Overall, though, we’ve only found odd things occasionally. Nothing has been completely broken. I don’t expect any developers to find every single bug because the test cases they look at can be subtly different from the ones we look at. There will always be issues, but Simtech does a pretty good job at getting things right the first time.
Are there any areas they could improve?
Sometimes, the amount of time something is going to take changes once it goes into development, so I have a level of sympathy for Simtech. I’d have fewer issues if they worked to come back regularly and give us updated timelines without having to be chased for them. This has been our main concern.
Do you have any advice for potential customers?
Go in with an open mind about the language challenges. Simtech is very fluent in English. However, some subtleties I might use in working with U.K providers and customers might be lost in translation with Simtech. It’s important to try and keep the requirements as clear and simple as possible. Put the requirements in bullet points and keep the language clear and concise. I'm guilty of not doing all of these things at times, so I learned the hard way.
Once the requirements have been worked through, they return with the specifications in a bullet-point format that is concise and clear. However, it’s not always perfect, and sometimes things have to be clarified.
The engagement will benefit from requirements that are simple and contain screenshots, arrows, points, and text. When we use English to describe our expectations, there are too many words, and it’s still imprecise. Pictures are much more helpful. Very simply terminology, arrows, and diagrams all work very well.