What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
I would say the frontend development capabilities of the team are pretty high. In general, we are happy with the end result, the budget as a whole, and the quality of the code.
They were proactive about applying best practices and looking for ways to improve (even on the design aspects that were presented to them).
They were looking for ways to improve the overall product, rather than just the delivery of what we asked. They had a conversation with us to see if we would be open to it, and that shows a lot of initiative on their part.
One of the team members was a junior member. We discussed whether we wanted someone that was more senior or junior on the team because there was a risk in having a junior member take on a large chunk of the tasks.
From a process perspective, we were able to leverage the senior members of the team in order to get the work quality we needed. It did take a little bit of time in order for it to get where it needed to be.
How did UppLabs LLC perform from a project management standpoint?
One key factor to consider is that they are out in Ukraine, and there is a pretty sizable time difference between our timezone in New York and where they are. For the most part, we had about three hours of overlap on any given day.
They are pretty autonomous. We operated in a Scrum manner and had daily stand-ups every day at 10 a.m. During the daily stand up, we checked in on what was being done, talked about any challenges we needed to address, pushed requests, and went through anything that needed to be reviewed.
We also had a pretty active Slack channel, and Trello provided a transparent method to manage the scrum board. Since our collaboration was quite good, it enabled us to keep them engaged without being in the same time zone.
However, we did have to establish some things as we went on. For example, we needed to get more specific about each ticket and its scope. We linked it to specific parts of the backend, and that made the code review and emerging process easier to manage.
They were pooling a lot of different tickets and requirements and then making giant pushes that made reviewing the code extremely difficult. Through our retrospective process, we did make a couple of changes that increased efficiency.
As we progressed throughout the course of the project, we asked their team to take on more of the creation and project management side of the work. (We were able to find an individual who was really organized and had some good experience.)
The team had a pretty deep roster, and they were able to be flexible when drawing from the team and adding people dynamically throughout the project.
What did you find most impressive about them?
We enjoyed working with them. As a budget-conscious startup, we were looking for people who really got our challenges.
UppLabs LLC figures out where they are going to fit in, and they actually look for ways to make your product better. They aren’t just trying to “nickel and dime” you, get the project done, and send you the bill.
The team was good to work with. In general, they are well-intentioned people who enjoy technology and the challenge of building something good.
Also, they are pretty forthcoming about giving a reasonable estimation of the cost. They give you a heads up before they feel the spend is about to change. Those characteristics along with the fact that they showed flexibility helped to bring trust in the relationship.
Are there any areas they could improve?
There are probably opportunities on their end to do more internal training. They have a variety of people with various levels of experience within the team. While working with a junior member of the team, we had to be proactive about pushing for specific changes on their end in order to make the engagement more manageable. (He was good, but it was more about the level of experience and the growth that still needed to happen.)
Sometimes, they were a little bit behind in what they would recommend compared to what we were seeing in the US in terms of best practices. When it came to front-end development, we definitely pushed them to take on some new initiatives and they had to do research.
For example, the progressive web app architecture and using service workers were things they hadn’t done before. I think they are good, but as a startup, we are pushing things to the limit. They were very accommodating, did the research, and were able to apply their technical chops to do the right thing.
Do you have any advice for potential customers?
We came in with a pretty specific ask looking for technical development. From my point of view, they are more technical developers. We had another team do the design, and I think that worked out pretty well with them.
You should be specific and proactively give them feedback if you feel things are not going as smoothly as they can. They are very proactive at incorporating feedback once you give it to them. If you are a manager and you let the project run without paying close attention, there’s a risk it could run in the wrong direction.
It isn’t the kind of engagement where you can just hire them, look away, and come back in a couple of months. In order to really ensure quality results and that they are meeting your expectations, you have to keep a close eye on how the engagement is going and be proactive in providing feedback.