What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
We engaged them on a time and materials basis, but they provided good estimates about what they thought it would take. I appreciated that they provided a range. “On the low end, it’s going to take at least this and at the high end, we can’t see it going over this.” With time and budget, they came in close to that middle range of the estimate. Given the size of the projects we were working on, that’s impressive. They weren’t in a T&M [time and materials] type contract. They weren’t blowing smoke to try to win the deal and then take twice as long or twice the effort to get it done. There was no arguing about scope creep or anything. They had a good, solid understanding of what it was going to take, and they had a pretty accurate estimate and could deliver within that. We were monitoring quality on a week-in/week-out basis.
How did Table XI perform from a project management standpoint?
We had constant, daily communication. We’re on Slack with them. Our engineer is sometimes working in their office. Their engineer is sometimes working in our office. There are code reviews by our more senior person before stuff is merged into our codebase.
The code quality was generally very high. If at any point we had a merge request or a code that they were submitting that we didn’t feel great about, and we provided feedback, they addressed any concerns that we raised. I wasn’t involved in the day-to-day, but I was getting good communication from their project manager about progress and status and how much budget we’ve used and whether we’re on track. Their invoices had a nice level of detail, broken down to where the hours had been spent, by whom, doing what.
There was very good synergy at every level in the organization, even from me at the VP level working with the BusAd [Business Administration] on their end. I was working with Mark [Rickmeier, CEO, Table XI], who was the COO at the time, just to get the contract underway; everything has been very organized even since then.
The engineers work together well. The project manager communicated well with me. At every level, we had good communication and collaboration.
What did you find most impressive about them?
I don’t have a lot of points of comparison; up until this project, I’d only worked within companies that have leveraged outsource providers. I had never before worked this directly with a vendor, like providing oversights and having it be a project that was under my team.
But, compared to what I have seen, Table XI had a greater quality of communication, code quality, and consistency of delivering what’s expected than other vendors I’ve worked with.
Are there any areas they could improve?
I asked some of the folks on our team that worked with them. We very occasionally had an issue with some of the code commits, where it wasn’t exactly aligned to our technology standards or approach, or something about the way they were trying to merge without as much transparency than we would normally want.
They sort of went off on a silo for a week and came back with one big, long commit that makes it hard to dig into the details as effectively. When we provided the feedback, we saw improvement from them in those things. It wasn’t a consistent thing. It’s more like this one engineer, who is not full-time on our project. Maybe he was not as in-tune with how to work with us or something.
I wouldn’t overemphasize those things because they weren’t, in general, a problem. As we worked through everything with them, they addressed any issues.