Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
UpTop invested time and the resources even before we started writing a line of code. We worked hard to define the requirements and the scope very well. As a result, there were very few, if any, surprises when the delivery came. Our expectations for the scope and schedule were pretty tightly aligned. It helped that we provided enough details upfront before we moved forward with the project. That gave them confidence in developing timelines and delivering our expectations. As a result, they met our expectations in terms of scope, delivery, and being on time.
How did UpTop perform from a project management standpoint?
We've had the good fortune that project management is one of the strengths that UpTop brought to the table. UpTop assigned us a project manager who was very disciplined and organized. He tracked the scope, schedule, and budget items. As our liaison, he translated our expectations into requirements and got answers directly from development resources. He also knew enough technology to be very effective in his role. He always made sure we were aware of where we stood, where the jeopardy was, and what UpTop needed from us. We appreciated the status reports he provided. We've had the opportunity to maintain relationships with that one PM, so he's had continuity from the start. This helps him continue to be effective for us.
Until the later stages of our initial work with them, I was the primary contact and liaison. That meant I spent time in their offices and had electronic communication multiple times a week. As we were getting close to launch, we had a formal status and technology review once or twice a week. Eventually, I brought an architect on board to step in and take some of the final roles. I still retained the primary business relationships. As we've done incremental work with UpTop, I've re-engaged them, helped scope out the work, and kept the business relationship going.
What did you find most impressive about UpTop?
The other firms we talked to had more Ph.D.s than I've seen in academia. UpTop certainly had those credentials, and they had people who truly understood the discipline. But, what we liked about UpTop was that they balanced those credentials with practicality. We weren't just spinning our wheels talking about theory and user behavior constantly. They balanced theory with practical application in our industry. We found that valuable, and it distinguished them from the others.
The other thing I'd say that set UpTop apart was that they were clear, honest and set expectations fairly. They knew when to push back and ask us to think twice about a request. On the other hand, they were able to take pressure from us since we're still the customer. Compared to a lot of partners that I've worked with, there really were no surprises from UpTop. It doesn't mean everybody bats 1,000, but they had a pretty high batting average. Across a large number of partners, not just in this discipline, they're on the top of my list. I give them credit for that. It's why they've been the first ones we've considered when we've had incremental needs. This may sound like they must've paid me a very large fee to give them a glowing review. But, in all honesty, they've earned it. I don't usually like to do these kinds of interviews, but they've treated us well. We were very fortunate that it was a very good match.
Are there any areas UpTop could improve?
I suppose that the right answer is that no one is perfect, and there are always areas to improve. However, our partnership with UpTop works, so I can't say that there are areas for improvement. If it didn't, we wouldn't continue to be doing business with them. I can't say that there is any area where an improvement would make our relationship better.