Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or impact of the engagement?
We don't really have any good data to share because we just started to roll the app out and make it productive. We're not up to the user level we're expecting. We're also planning to have a few items added to a new release, which is partly why we're postponing marketing. Solution Analysts excellently proposed and execute the interface with our website and the mobile app, and our technical people are able to modify the presentation of the mobile app, its data, and everything else through our website using WordPress.
Our one concern early on was, with a hardcode mobile app, how am I going to make changes if I need to? It wouldn't necessarily be a whole new rewrite. Solution Analysts built it in such a way that the technical information can be updated and modified right to our website, and then it becomes live on the mobile app.
How did Solution Analysts perform from a project management standpoint?
They performed very well. My concern with an Indian company was about communication— not being able to have face-to-face meetings and differences in time zones and cultures. Through the initial process, however, everything worked with the scope document, and they understood exactly what I needed to do. Early on when we were working on the website, I thought of having the new website be very similar to the original website; as I was trying to point it in that direction, Solution Analysts pointed out the advantages of current websites that are designed for mobile apps. They were perfectly willing to do it the way that I had originally intended, but when they pointed out the benefits of the format from a mobile standpoint, and through research on my own, I realized that they were right and that they had the expertise that I could rely on. So I decided to embrace their concept and their expertise, and we got a very good result.
They’re very flexible in handling meetings. They worked with my time, scheduling our meetings for early morning our time, which was very late for them. We used WebEx meetings so that I could see the app and website development as it was progressing. These interactive meetings really alleviated a lot of my concerns regarding communication. However, there was a little bit of confusion at times, which you're going to have because of cultural differences.
What did you find most impressive about Solution Analysts?
They have a first-rate process of understanding my questions and concerns and responding to them. It wasn't exactly as if I was in a meeting with other US people because their team members are a little bit different. For example, they're not as quick to make suggestions if I'm making a mistake. But, we were able to work through any issues and establish our timing, which gave us a solid result in a fairly good timeframe.
Are there any areas Solution Analysts could improve?
When we were trying to expedite tasks, they didn't go as fast as I would have liked. They have a lot more holidays than we do, so they were shut down, and we couldn’t continue. That wasn't a major issue. Of course, the customer may not understand the implications of changes and what that does to the timeline. That's probably the case here. My original hope was to have the mobile app published eight or ten weeks prior. That's probably more from our end, but a few technical glitches came up along the way, which took us a bit longer. The team working on our development did a super job and anticipated problems. Once we were able to get things clarified, they were very responsive.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with Solution Analysts?
If you have a misunderstanding, or you're not exactly happy with the way the work is currently presented, make it clear to them. All of the people who I worked with were great at doing whatever I needed or asked. They would explain technical issues to me. From a cultural standpoint, Indian culture is not quite like Japanese culture, but there's also a little bit more differential to the customer. They're not as quick to criticize or raise a question, so try to be as self-critical as possible and ask them for ideas that might be complimentary to your ideas.