What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
STX Next has a decent workforce, and the work that they do is productive and efficient. Whether it could be more efficient is not something I’ve tried to find out. The impact is that we have a good connection to suppliers, and we have a stable platform.
How did STX Next perform from a project management standpoint?
I’m working with the general manager of their office. He is based in Wrocław, where we have our developers situated. He’s very approachable and cooperative in thinking through the different challenges we encounter working together.
From a cultural perspective, Eastern Europe is a bit more hierarchical. It’s basically a matter of telling them what to do and them doing it. It’s pretty productive from that perspective. We always try to stimulate more interactions, as in also getting their opinions as experts on certain matters. It takes some time to get that culture going, but I think we have a smooth operation. It does help that we have a product owner and two developers on our side. The project is controlled from the Amsterdam side and executed by the Polish team.
The developers themselves are working perfectly fine within our agile sprints, but it took some time to get started and to get used to each other. We’re using Slack for communication, Google Docs for documents, and Jira and Confluence for issue tracking, sprint setups, and measurements.
What did you find most impressive about them?
Compared to the other Python developer we’ve worked with, the fact that it’s so easy for STX Next to supply new profiles is pretty impressive. They have a big talent pool, and that makes them very flexible. If I asked them for three new developers by the following week, STX Next would be able to supply them.
Are there any areas they could improve?
Among the things we find important are people’s skill levels and their personalities and approach to the work. We like to have a pretty big hand in recruitment, and STX Next wants to put themselves down as having already estimated that a person is a good addition to our team, and we have to believe them. We find it very important that a person has certain personal traits and level of intelligence, and we like to play a part in that. If there’s an improvement point, it’s for them to be more flexible around that. There’s always a bit of a discussion when I tell them that I want to interview their resources, and that it’ll take me 60–90 minutes. It always leads to a return email with them saying that it’s not their normal route for doing things.
Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?
Clients shouldn’t underestimate the starting phase. Taking in an external company doesn’t mean that they’ll have a full development team by the following week that will immediately build what the client wants them to. If the client is using the external company purely as an extension of the team that they have in their own office, that will lead to some configuration needs before everything is up and running.