Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
We've presented it to a number of different people. We had a professional development day this past Friday, where we showed it to all of our teachers. We also work with some partner nonprofits that use the platform as a tool for their programs. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.
I've gotten very little feedback from users, but that's a good thing. I used to hear from our teachers upward of 30 times a day with different errors and issues they were having. Right now, we have teachers using it, and I'm not hearing from them because it's all working, and it's intuitive to them, which is also great.
We work on the academic year, so our users are fully coming at it depending on when the students are going to be starting their research projects. Once we have more of our users on the platform, we'll be able to track specific user engagement metrics. We are now able to get student and mentor demographics, and Google Analytics is running in the background, so we can track the number of hours that different mentor groups are spending on the platform, which is valuable to our industry and university partners. Because it's such an early stage, we're still slowly getting the users involved, so we're not tracking anything yet.
How did Tandem perform from a project management standpoint?
They consistently delivered their assigned work on time and within budget. We had someone from the Illinois Math and Science Academy, who does development work himself, on the calls. I didn't know how long something should take, so if they said it would take a certain amount of hours, I wouldn't have a clue as to whether that was reasonable or not. He was always on the call to validate what was said, and we always felt like their time frame estimates were reasonable. They still deliver things quickly. If we realized at the last minute that we needed to add something, they were incredibly quick in the delivery. They were right on target with their scope, which was great.
We had another contender, who was a developer for the previous variation of the platform, and he claimed that Tandem's scope would never be possible, that we'd never be able to deliver a product in that time frame – and yet they did. We used Pivotal for project management, which worked really well, and we used Slack for an internal messaging system.
What distinguishes Tandem from other providers?
What made us decide to go with them was that they completely understood the project and what we needed. In our initial meeting, as I was going through my list from teachers, mentors, and students, they would add things in that were beneficial. They completely understood the project and what it would need right out of the gate. They knew right away what our needs were for different users, and what would make it a better platform, without me having to go into explicit detail.
I feel like they're always available, even if I have a silly question. They're really on the ball and quick to respond to me. They're incredibly communicative. I never worry about who I'm supposed to contact if something happens, or whether they'll be able to fix it in time. Even after the project wrapped up, I still talk to them maybe once a week to ask them questions, and they're incredibly responsive.
Is there anything Tandem could have improved or done differently?
No. Tandem has been incredibly helpful and responsive. Everything was on time and just as I thought it would be. It's working great, and I believe we'll be able to scale our programs out because of it. They had an open house that my CEO and I went to and, by the end, it felt like they were friends because I talked to them so often. I don't have any complaints.