What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
I can scale their resources up or down, as required. Sphere Software has some talented developers, and their pricing is competitive with local agencies. Even if I could pay less by working directly with some of these resources, the company gives me the flexibility I need, and they eliminate the issues that would come with hiring developers in Ukraine.
Looking back, a couple of projects were probably done by junior developers, and could have been improved with better direction from my side; I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Whenever I had a chance to address an issue, it was quickly fixed.
How did Sphere Software perform from a project management standpoint?
My background was non-technical, so not having a tech lead on-site was challenging. Over the last year, I’ve gotten better at communicating scope. If our budget allowed it, it would have been better to have Sphere Software assign me a project developer and project manager, and let those people be the intermediaries. In order to save money, I became the product officer and managed the team.
Projects were always delivered with high quality. Sometimes, they stretched out longer than expected, which I credit to scope creep and changing story requirements. There are also some challenges to working with offshore developers. They are good English speakers, both written and spoken, but things can get lost in translation, and firing up the video chat can be slow.
I’ve worked with offshore companies in the past when I had less experience. The language barriers were much worse. With Sphere Software, we’re mostly dealing with business decisions in a dynamic way. We’re thinking out loud and fixing or implementing items. We’re a startup, so there’s not a lot of time to sit back. We have to be on top of things, and sometimes launch builds before they are fully tested.
What did you find most impressive about them?
I’ve appreciated their responsiveness and the quality of our developer. I would hire him if I could. He’s been with us for a long time, has become a part of the team, and I feel that he enjoys the work. The product team I’ve worked with for billing issues, scale-up or scale-down issues is also very responsive.
Given the flexibility that they give me, I would hire more Sphere Software developers and engineers before hiring my own. This is not just because of the savings, but because I get quality work out of them. If I ever start another company, I think that I will work with them again. They give me the flexibility of not having to bring in someone full-time until I’m ready.
Are there any areas they could improve?
They could do better in terms of testing, before something is pushed to staging, for me to test. Many developers simply minimize their screens to test the mobile view, but doing this on a desktop isn’t really the same as testing on a mobile device.
Half of the traffic to our site is mobile, so it’s important for the developers to actually test on smartphones. It’s taken me extra time to test on multiple devices. Had they done it first, I would have saved time and money.
Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?
Clients need to be clear about what they’re looking to accomplish: define the scope of work and understand that a dedicated project lead, available in during their morning working hours is important.
Most of Sphere Software’s developers are in Ukraine, which means that they are working from 2 am to 6 am, while we’re sleeping. When we wake up, we have work to review. Having someone available from 7 am to 10 am our time will allow us to get a lot more done, a lot quicker.