Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We just pushed a live update last week. We’re working through all the new changes right now with all my new users in order to start the next iteration. All of the work that they’ve done for me met the IESNA Standard [Illuminating Engineering Society of North America]. We tell them that they’ve gone from being computer programmers to lighting engineers. They have invested countless hours and resources into studying my industry and learning my terminology so that they could apply our standards. Based on my schedule, I can train them to be lighting designers so that they understand what I’m talking about. I tell them what I want, and they’re able to do it for me.
The mobile app was predicated on a power density calculation—what’s known as lumens per watt. This very simplistic matrix is only used to calculate power density. To make it a success story, we’ve actually changed that propagation to where it’s a lumen comparison—the total amount of flux or light being produced by the fixture. We then factor in the different shapes and colors of lights, which have an impact on the performance. Where everything used to be a very static number predicated on consumption, now it’s predicated on output and has a multiple variable matrix. Techuz enabled us to come up with a correct solution and predicate it on IESNA standards.
How did Techuz perform from a project management standpoint?
These guys have really phenomenal project management. They have a web-based reporting and task system, which is used to share all of the different parts of the program. They can take PowerPoint presentations or videos and things that I have, digest that information, and turn it back around into a steady platform.
Their ability to communicate has been phenomenal. We do a lot of Skype phone calls where we share each other’s screens and a lot of still image captures. I’m notorious for building 100-page PowerPoints and sending it to them, and they go through all of those. There’s not a form of communication that we don’t use other than standard phone calls due to international rates.
What did you find most impressive about Techuz?
I was impressed by their ability to adapt. They were building a lighting software with an accountant and an electrical engineer, and nobody in the entire organization knew anything about lighting. We were looking at everything that they’ve ever done in a different way to be able to change and keep up within six months. It speaks volumes. It’s what enabled me to say, “Yes, this custom platform is where we need to go and stay financially committed to.” I could tell my bosses that “This is a way of venturing forward.”
It took me three months to find a limit, where they couldn’t turn in something within two days. It took me a long time to start throwing very heavy, complex matrix calculations, what ifs, and different formulas at them for them to actually need a minute to respond. Most everything that I ask them for was done by the next day. The team from Techuz is very nimble, very responsive, and very available. They do all of these great technical things, and they produce phenomenal code.
Are there any areas Techuz could improve?
The artistic impression of certain things would be the only critique that I can give them. That’s in terms of modernizing the way that things look, a lot of which is left up to the client. Think of it as wrapping it up and putting on a pretty bow—the wrapping is good. The bow? Not so much. They could expand on their graphic diversity and the look of things, but I’m sure that’s pretty much predicated on the client. They need to show something that makes it interesting, adds a “wow” factor. I’m not saying that the stuff is flat. It’s not. It’s very dynamic. It’s very intuitive. It works very well, but it could be more. Every time I’ve asked for something more dramatic, they’ve been able to deliver. It’s just not something they initially offer, and I think that has to do with their business model.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with Techuz?
I would say reach for the sky. There’s nothing that these guys can’t do. But in reaching for the sky, you have to be a very practical person. You have to be able to give them the relevant information that they need in order to be successful. In any project, set them up for success.
Make sure that you know what it is that you want. If you don’t know what you want, then state that. Coming into something lukewarm and half-knowing is fine if you can own that as a product developer. The minute you can admit and express what your downfalls are as the project coordinator, they can fill that in for you. They’re excellent at doing that. But if you take the approach that you know everything, you’re not really using them to their fullest potential. Just like with any artist, you have to give them the leeway to give you an artistic interpretation of what it is that you want. And if you don’t like the end result, they can always change it. But know what it is that you want going into this kind of business platform and working with someone like that. Make sure that you are well-equipped to go into this kind of endeavor. It’s very detail-oriented. The more details you can provide, the better they will perform for you.