In terms of results, could you share any statistics, metrics, and user feedback that would demonstrate the quality of their performance?
I don’t know the stats off the top of my head. The first site we launched has done very well. That one launched less than a year ago, and it’s doing well from a traffic perspective. It’s definitely meeting our expectations. I think that’s mostly due to the design and marketing of the product, not the development itself, its functionality certainly plays a role. We wrote the technical requirements, and they custom built the functionalities in accordance with them. The advantage of using them is that they work in a very agile fashion. If we built something and it wasn’t quite right, we could change it quickly in the next sprint and test it again only a week or two later.
The fact that they’re so proficient at working in an agile fashion meant that, as a whole team, we were able to get things delivered quite rapidly, and iterate on them, rather than waiting three months for something that didn’t match our requirements. We were able to look at each prototype after one iteration and see what was working and not working. The end quality of the product was as solid as we could have hoped for because of the process we used as a team. They followed through on all of their commitments. They were excellent at retrospectively looking back at the work and determining how we could improve the process. Overall, that resulted in a higher quality product, but it was a combination of them working really closely with us to do that.
When working with thoughtbot, is there anything that you’d consider unique about their approach or development methodology that distinguish them from other vendors?
I’ve worked with six or seven developers from thoughtbot because they have a habit of rotating developers every six to eight weeks on a project. To me, the rotations have been seamless. They have very competent developers. They do loads of pairing and code reviews. It seems to me that the quality of their developers is equal. They’re all really quite good. As a client, I don’t see a drop in velocity when they take one developer off and bring another in. They provide a consistent level of service that I haven’t seen in from agencies, or even our in-house team. Their engineering standards, development standards, and the way that they have that consistently through their team is very impressive. I’ve yet to be disappointed in one of their developers.
In retrospect, are there areas in which you think thoughtbot could improve as a service provider?
Their developers are so adept at self-managing, I’m not really clear on the value I get from their scrum master. Perhaps because we’re a digital development team anyway, we’re not like some of their clients that completely outsource their development responsibilities. We work with them very closely, so I feel like the scrum master is almost not doing anything because our product managers or business analysts will make sure that the user stories are there, and groomed in the backlog, and the team is ready and set up to go. I’ve just not really seen a return on investment from the scrum master, but that said, I’m really happy with the package we get from them. That’s the one area that I have some skepticism about, and it’s more because that particular resource seems unnecessary for us.