What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
We track the same metrics with SoftTeco that we do internally, including quality, velocity, throughput, and commit/claim ratio (they come up with a Sprint plan, and claim a certain number of closed stories within it). If the commit/claim ratio is anywhere between 90%–110%, then it’s healthy. If it’s below that, then there is something to review.
In terms of velocity and commit-to-claim, SoftTeco has been doing great work. They deliver what they promise, plan fairly accurately, and have done a good job in terms of requirements clarity and timing. They don’t become idle because our UX team didn’t provide something on time. We have hit bottlenecks, but usually it’s because of the process or some dependencies we haven’t met.
The metrics regarding code quality and number of bugs we’ve seen have been normal, and not above what our internal team produces. We’re fairly happy with SoftTeco’s work.
We’ve already shipped a number of features together, and have a significant roadmap ahead of us.
How did SoftTeco perform from a project management standpoint?
They’re very experienced in this sense. When we started, we tried to impose our internal process on them, but it was counterproductive. They have their own cadence and were used to 3-week sprints, while we had 1-week iterations internally. After we figured out the best process, we gave them almost full freedom in terms of project management.
SoftTeco is integrated into our JIRA, and they have their own boards. We’ve adopted 2-week sprints on both sides. Everything is transparent, and we’re able to see where they stand at any point. They work tightly with our product management team.
We have a 30-day notice clause in our contract that allows them to easily add more people or reallocate resources if the team needs to be reduced. The flexibility, process, and quality are all there.
What did you find most impressive about them?
I appreciate their commitment. They hold themselves accountable and truly take ownership of the work despite being an external partner. It would have been easier for them to just sit and wait until something happened, but they’ve kept pushing in an aggressive and proactive manner. The sense of dedication makes them feel like a real part of our team and business.
They did an outstanding job providing a strong team with short notice, and added more resources when needed. Their team is technically strong, caring, and committed to their work.
Are there any areas they could improve?
They could have been a bit more proactive and aggressive internally in terms of the process itself. When we tried to impose our own process on them and failed, it became clear that they had enough experience to handle things independently. They should have informed us of this from the start in order to allow for more productivity. We did finally overcome this, but it took more than a month. We were just starting the relationship and trying to figure out roles.
Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?
Clients need to be proactive in terms of the process, and formalize it at the start of the relationship. Making sure that the overall structure and expectations are presented is important. Depending on the overhead required, clients need to figure out how to retain efficiency on both sides.
They should also learn to sell themselves better and present their process so people understand that there is a mature team behind the company, and not just a bunch of developers.