What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
I ran an anonymous survey within my company after about six months, and Software Mind came out on top in every metric, and not just a little bit on top. They were miles ahead of the others we were experimenting with. The quality of their work was excellent, they were robust and professional, and they actually implemented solutions, rather than just doing what the product manager thought we needed. Without a doubt, the quality of their work was very, very high. I’m happy to recommend them to my network; I’ve done so, and I will probably use them again in my next project.
How did Software Mind perform from a project management standpoint?
We worked in two-week sprints and used Jira as our tracking system. They were very effective at using it for communication and ticketing, which they had to be, because they were remote. If I can’t go talk to someone, I might have to sit and write everything down. Additionally, their participation in the standups (with big screens and webcams) and the whole agile ritual was very strong. We always had quick, positive communication through Slack, and it was very common to see our engineers in Hamburg on a call with their engineers assigned to us in Poland, working through something together.
They were also able to estimate with reasonable accuracy. If we bring anyone new into a software development project that’s already seven years old, it usually takes more than a couple of months for them to understand the whole system. Quite quickly—after about the first two sprints (four weeks)—they were able to estimate the size of the task with reasonable accuracy.
They always knew what they were working on, and they were robust, and not just in software development skills, but also in how mature their approach to the work was. That comes from their hiring. When we were building the team, they sent me a list of CVs, obviously with personal details removed. I was able to look through the experiences of the people they were putting in as candidates. We went through an almost classic interview procedure, which meant that we got people who fit exactly right.
What did you find most impressive about them?
Companies in Software Mind’s area and industry experience a lot of turnover, so, when I went to speak with them I addressed the stickiness of their employees. I wanted to know whether I needed to worry if they’d lose an employee to another company in three months, and I’d have to onboard someone else. In reality, the retention of their employees was very strong, actually stronger than our own employees. They have a good culture there. People enjoy working there, and they identify with the projects they’re working on.
Some of their resources are quite young, but they’re professional, thorough, and not just the “Let’s tackle it and see what happens” sort. I’ve worked with outsourcing companies from across the world, and seeing this level of professionalism with people who stay a long time is quite rare.
Working in finance, people get really upset if you lose their money. Making sure that what we deliver is well-tested and robust was key, and my team leader quickly got a degree of confidence that, when they said it was done, we wouldn’t have to wonder if it really was, and check it in depth. There was a trust in Software Mind’s definition of “done” and of meeting requirements.
Are there any areas they could improve?
No. Their communication was very good, including at the management or engagement management level, and they quickly proposed, after 3–4 weeks, that we have a review to make sure everything was on track and that we were happy. It’s not just that the developers themselves were good, but that the commercial engagement was very strong.
If there was something that went wrong during the onboarding, it was that I got sick and couldn’t finish the negotiations. That made things a bit chaotic, but, from their perspective, I think it was really good.
Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?
Clients should be honest with them and not be scared of using a remote team; Software Mind genuinely wants to solve a problem. I don’t think they’re the most affordable option, but, if the client wants good quality, Software Mind offers the best I’ve seen.
Trust them and really use their skills. If someone is looking for a provider that’s just going to slap together some code to do this and that, Software Mind probably isn’t for them. If the client wants to have access to people who are really engaged in the product and want to actively support them, Software Mind is the right team.