What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
However, because we had two major events at our group per year, we decided to do a major emphasis on work in the months of November–January for an exhibition in February. We did a bunch of new features in those three months and then went into support mode for half a year. Then, we did another three months of development around summertime. They adapted quite well to that. They did their QA, we did our UAT testing, and then we deployed things to production.
In terms of metrics, we did some detailed user stories and hour estimations in the very beginning, but it became too big a burden to keep on top of it. When we did those three-month sprints with a lot of work, we had a very clear view as to what we wanted to show at the exhibitions, and Unicsoft had a clear deadline. If they didn’t make it, we wouldn’t have a show at the exhibition. As far as I remember, they always made it in time for the show. They may have been two weeks late on a two-month period, but we still had a one-month buffer for releasing things to production and showing them to customers.
How did Unicsoft perform from a project management standpoint?
We didn’t have a large internal team, so we relied heavily on the project management of Unicsoft to keep the developers in check and make sure people were working on the right things. Part of their job was to keep pushing us and make sure we responded. They did quite a good job of keeping us in check.
Their PM had a meeting with us after retrospectives, and their account manager spoke to us every three months or so about client success and any concerns we had. I happened to travel to Ukraine anyway, for business I had with distributors there, and I’d always visit Unicsoft’s office. Their CEO would always find time to sit down with me and work out the strategic plan.
One of the preconditions on our project and one of the things they’ve done very well is documentation. Everything is well-documented through wiki pages. The whole idea was that we wouldn’t be tied into Unicsoft, and that we could give the project to any other design agency at any time in the lifecycle of the product. Unicsoft did it so well that we decided not to move away from them.
What did you find most impressive about them?
Account management and customer relations are extremely strong points at Unicsoft. For example, if they saw something going wrong, they’d let us know before it happened. If they felt they’d misjudged their estimates, they let us know before it became a problem, and they never went beyond their budget.
However, their customer approach is only important when the actual work is being done. Unicsoft put the right developers and project manager on the project. I could discuss the little things we didn’t like and how we could make them better. Obviously, had they not done those things, I’d be discussing how to change people out of the project and, potentially, how to change suppliers.
Are there any areas they could improve?
There are ups and downs in any relationship. We had 1–2 meetings with Unicsoft in the six-year period where we had to tell them off. It was often because we weren’t responding to their calls, and they weren’t insisting that we make a decision one way or the other. Since they were a subcontractor, there were certain things they couldn’t make decisions on and, rightfully so, they wouldn’t. Those were the only times that we weren’t happy. We understood that we weren’t delivering on our end, but we wanted them to be a bit more proactive and aggressive. It might’ve been a cultural difference as well.
If we were to speak to someone from my former company, they’d mention that Unicsoft is also the main supplier for the whole website suite of the group. The last I heard was that the only website that hadn’t been given over to them was the one for the US. I also heard that they were considering using Unicsoft for an online shopping website. If the company’s given them more work over the past six years, it must’ve not gone too bad. There are at least 3–4 people interfacing with Unicsoft now, from different departments.
Do you have any advice for future clients of theirs?
Unicsoft is very good at pulling information out of customers so that they understand the requirements 100%. Having workshops worked really well in other projects I had with them. If the client is starting from nothing or if they have some ideas about what they want to do, I’d very much recommend starting with a 1–2-day workshop with Unicsoft’s entire team. They’re quite insightful, and they ask all the right questions in order to cover everything the customer hadn’t thought about.