What was the scope of their involvement?
After lots of research and planning, we took several days to write a detailed project scope. I wrote an executive summary that outlined what I wanted the relationship to be, what the product should be, and what the takeaways would be.
The bulk of the project was a fully functioning platform, but we wanted things like annotative code in the unlikely case that someone else has to pick up where they left off. The scope included user-facing websites for logging in and managing information, and suggestions for permission architecture in platform.
Angular is a big part of the technology we’re using. We wanted to make sure we can port the software over to an iPhone or Android app. Software is really a service these days and it should be mobile-first and responsive to different screen sizes, platforms, operating systems, etc. We wanted something that was pretty snappy upfront as far as page loading time. In fact, our pages don’t reload often, the data just appears in the UI at the correct moment. Thinkship has pretty top-of-the-line hardware. They easily leverage a couple-hundred different technologies, including diverse API’s, AWS [Amazon Web Services], and QuickBooks for accounting to name a few.
In our initial scope of work I tried to build in a 10%–15% flexibility margin for changes because of our entrepreneurial nature. In some senses, the platform is still a work in progress, even though we’ve rolled it out. It can be difficult to strike a balance between a budget and the features. The goal is to make it fair for everyone involved and build great, long-lasting relationships.
What is the team dynamic?
I work with Xu [Founder and CEO, Thinkship] who leads his team to achieve his vision for the project. Even though I don’t live in Illinois, I visit their office when I am in Chicago. They have a great working environment.
How did you come to work with Thinkship?
Thinkship was referred to us about a year and half ago, but unfortunately, we tried another avenue first. We ended up going with a recommendation from a $6 billion company.
That software development provider was based in South Carolina and turned out to be an absolute nightmare. They kept promising that features would go live the next week, or the next, but it became clear that these were all excuses. We ended up making several payments to them, but they would never deliver the work. What they did deliver was very poor. We did some digging and discovered that their founder had a criminal record for financial fraud. We finally terminated the relationship.
We went back to the original recommendation for Thinkship, which took us from the worst experience imaginable to the best in less than a week.
How much have you invested with them?
We have invested six figures in the development of the platform with Thinkship.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with them in January 2017, and the work is ongoing. The relationship is still evolving. In the future, I see us keeping them on retainer, with a flexible give-and-take relationship built on honesty, ethics, and loyalty.