Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
Our e-commerce functionalities have been a success. It was a big challenge, consisting of a complete refactoring of the solution which had been built over the last few months. It required a significant amount of changes in order to support an upcoming activation. STX Next was tasked with the majority of this work and they delivered it in time. The system had a fixed completion date. It needed to be ready before the holiday season so that we could fully unleash the system. I can't disclose numbers, but there's been a significant amount of revenue for the company that depended on reaching the deadline.
One of our large lender customers delivered late, which caused a tough time on our side. It was easy to amass resources on STX Next's side on short notice and get the work done. It involved extra effort, but STX Next was accommodating to us. Hiring and recruiting has been smooth. STX Next has moved fast in its market and we've always been pleased with the people they brought on.
When I started working with them, STX Next was using the Scrum methodology. STX Next has been good at training staff on the Agile way, which has made my life a lot easier. We've also had some career progressions, with resources moving from QA to product ownership, or from junior to senior levels, for example.
How did STX Next perform from a project management standpoint?
Because of the distance and the fact that we're an Agile company, collaboration is essential. Our work hours are minimal in terms of interaction times; we're limited to 4 hours early in the morning. Also, our engineers tend to come in late but don't want to go home late. Our Scrum meetings happen in the morning. We use collaboration tools such as Google Hangouts for daily conferences as well as Jira, Confluence, and Slack. These enable us to be offline and still track progress.
What did you find most impressive about STX Next?
STX Next’s team is passionate and has a great work ethic. They are willing to learn and understand our business. Instead of just coding to our specs, STX Next engages with us as a partner, wanting to understand, improve the code, and deliver better products. There is a lot of change in our industry in terms of the clients which we're able to sign. Even though this can be disruptive, STX Next has been flexible in changing directions with us. They have an Agile culture, plus they're stable, tech-savvy, and able to self-organize. STX Next works well as a team.
Are there any areas STX Next could improve?
We have a diverse tech stack, primarily using Python/Django. We've recently added another resource who has full-stack experience and who is also good at frontend technologies like Angular.JS and newer frameworks. We are trying to train the rest of the team for more full-stack abilities, which will allow us to swing projects better.
Another thing which we're continually trying to improve on is the Agile implementation process. We work with STX Next in trying to become more lean and nimble. Tools like Jira aren't used very well at the moment. I don't know if this is necessarily a problem for STX Next to solve, but it would be useful to have some additional expertise on this front.