Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
Our main project was launched in April 2016, but we discovered a significant bug in it and needed to take it down. About 1–2% of sign-ons were given crossed-over data. The issue was somewhere between Sitecore and our Microsoft CRM. We contacted both parties, but no one could figure it out. I don't hold this against TechGuilds since the work spanned more than one vendor in its history. We've needed to come up with a new solution quickly and put aside much of the work done by TechGuilds. They're still working on our single sign-on functionality. In 2017, we plan to build upon the work done in the first and second parts, coming up with a third iteration. Even after we encountered that issue, TechGuilds performed well, so I'm not looking to change vendors. Had TechGuilds not stepped in, we wouldn't have had anything ready in time. I found that they had some strong, knowledgeable team members who weren't shy to step up to the plate and do what was required.
How did TechGuilds perform from a project management standpoint?
We usually go over budget, but not by a significant amount. We're trying to work on communication, given that TechGuilds is based in Ottawa and we're in Toronto. We use Jira for daily communication, ticketing, as well as story and task tracking. TechGuilds has started sending us weekly updates on our account status, which is something I quite enjoy. We use Join.Me for online collaborations. It allows us to share desktop, view demos, and work together on tickets. We also have 15-minute daily standup calls in order to touch base on our status. Also, depending on who's on-call, we have hands-on contact with people. Demos are presented to us before finalizing any bug tracking and deploying.
What did you find most impressive about TechGuilds?
TechGuilds' team consider themselves a partner to us. When we were up at crazy hours, they were doing the same. On several occasions, we kept a bridge open until 3–4 AM and worked on things together.
Are there any areas TechGuilds could improve?
On a couple of occasions, I experienced unusual requests. TechGuilds wanted me to pay for their own infrastructure on which the development environment for our platform would be hosted. I'd never done this before and considered it to be a business cost for TechGuilds. Also, we have a local development and bubble environment. Other than this, I'd say that communication is getting better. We have a good replicated environment on which we deploy work before going to production.
TechGuilds has a good idea of best practices, but when we came to crunch periods, some of these were pushed aside on both of our teams. We were trying to meet timelines, but there's always some risk that comes with this. We've fine-tuned many of our change management processes and I see us continuing down this venue. I would like to see more documentation on this process in order to clarify what each side is saying. Miscommunication is only discovered after the fact.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with TechGuilds?
TechGuilds is a nimble group and big on the Agile approach. My organization relies more on waterfall development, which can lead to hiccups. I think that clients need to approach TechGuilds with more of an Agile methodology in mind.