Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
The client for our LunchMaster project was very inexperienced, running into financial problems and other difficulties. Despite this, the work that Software Planet Group did throughout the project was exceptional.
How did Software Planet Group perform from a project management standpoint?
We develop logistically-complex business applications, which are moving targets. Our LunchMaster client had been oversold on the timeline and budget of the project, which was not Software Planet Group's fault. They had no control over it. Software Planet Group provides hourly services, so they don't promise things that they won't be able to deliver because the ultimate goal of the project is not within their scope. Software Planet Group will work until completion, though.
In terms of overall productivity, it's hard to judge their team. Tasks that we thought would take a long time ended up being completed in a day or 2, while simpler items will take 1-2 weeks. Usually, this will be because of a deeper refactoring of the task. The governing factor in software productivity is product management. Developers are usually smart people, and if they've been doing it for a long time, they will usually be competent at their jobs. How well-factored the initial code was will affect how productive a developer will be, and this is dependent on how good the product manager was.
I paid for developers, but in addition to them, Software Planet Group assigned an internal project manager who made sure that the team was delivering. I took care of the actual day-to-day project management, creating detailed wireframes and specifications, and maintaining communication with the developers.
What distinguishes Software Planet Group from other providers?
Software Planet Group has an internal training process, which I find to be unusual and impressive about their company. I am based out of San Francisco, which is where many leading software solutions are developed. Software Planet Group is up on the techniques used by the best firms. Another indication of quality is how up-to-date Software Planet Group is on current best practices in the industry.
Is there anything Software Planet Group could have improved or done differently?
Software Planet Group has a large stable of developers and will usually assign whomever is free to new projects. During one project, a developer basically started inventing requirements and going off-target. To some degree, this was my own fault for not being clear. Things of this nature happened, but they were dealt with by Software Planet Group. It's normal for some issues to go off the rails. Nothing systemic ever occurred.
When working with an offshore team, it's important to have clear specifications of the work being done. Without this, they will get poor results. The bonus for this is largely on the client. Software Planet Group will do what they're told to do, but if that is sloppy and vague, there will likely be a sloppy, ill-defined project to deal-with going forward. High-definition wireframes will improve the output, clarifying the client's own thoughts. There will usually be a 10-hour time difference when working with Software Planet Group, so the team will work during night-time for the client. If they're not given clear instructions, they won't deliver the intended work.