Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
The web application is entirely internal to our company. We track its usage, which has grown constantly. It has replaced one or more of our older systems, including a previous web application. We have been able to migrate all of the users from that application onto our new one early on. It proved to be a success by reducing the number of platforms that we have to manage.
Working with their UX designer has been a very good experience as well. The ideas that he brought to the project in order to unify its look and feel, making the application discoverable to new users, was very positive and made the product look better than anything we've ever made before.
We've seen many new users. I was approached by one of them, a senior manager, who told me that he'd been able to perform a task through it that would probably not have been possible using our older systems.
How did STX Next perform from a project management standpoint?
We are developers ourselves, so it's easy to gauge the quality of what STX Next is producing. Their processes are very similar to ours, so the collaboration has worked very well. They're easy to work with, despite working remotely. My team in London has been developing the back-end interface for our systems, whereas STX Next has been developing the front end. As a result, we've had daily and weekly interactions, working closely with their team.
We use the same agile methodologies as their company, which means that, when things take longer than expected, we will find out about it quickly and reprioritize. On a weekly basis, STX Next completes the work assigned to their team. Issues can sometimes be more difficult than anyone would have imagined but, because of agile practices, the information is shared early, allowing us to make the right decisions.
We use Atlassian JIRA as a primary project management tool and HipChat for communication. We also have daily video conferences.
What distinguishes STX Next from other providers?
I haven't worked on a project of this type in the past, so I couldn't compare them to competitors. Through my experience in the industry as a whole, I can say that STX Next has really stuck to the rulebook of scrum development, which has paid off well very. By the time they're picking up a task that had been in the planning stage, we can already assign tickets to them and have a sprint. At that point, there will be few questions about the work. They will have spent enough time beforehand making sure that the task is well specified and reasonably estimated. There are few surprises on either side, given that we follow every rule. This has been important to success, especially in overcoming our distance barriers.
Is there anything STX Next could have improved or done differently?
During our project, one of the developers assigned to us left the company. It took STX Next a while to fill that vacancy. Given that we only had two developers from the start, this limited the work that we could do. This problem is not unique to STX Next. The reason for continuing to work with them was that we found it difficult to hire London developers.