Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We were trying to build something brand-new, and we very often completely changed our mind, which could be extremely frustrating. The guys at Waverley didn’t whine or anything because they understood. The way that everything was architected, it wasn’t a big deal to take a single micro-service and replace it with different functionality or a whole new micro-service.
I’m a pretty high-level thinker, not really a detail person. I went to Dmitri and his team saying I wasn’t going to set rules or coding standards. I wanted them to do it, but they said they already do. Their beliefs are very consistent with what are considered best practices today. Everything is done through continuous integration and delivery. Everything is code reviewed, and no code is ever approved without peer review. They established a process and a set of coding standards which was later used as models throughout the rest of the project because no other team had reached that phase yet.
They were completely up on modern practices, and they embraced them not with a totality that’s damaging. In my opinion, they selected the most important elements of the trends, like test-driven development, continuous integration, and they have really lived by those rules. They don’t make exceptions. They just do exactly what they should be doing to release code that is solid and to utilize all the best practices around the dev ops disciplines.
Everything is done through the modern tools, all the way down to checking code, testing it, then deployed to a test server and further tests run against it. That all just happens automatically when you do a check-in. That really impressed me. In 30 years in this business, I’ve never seen a team actually achieve that before. They essentially helped us set up and finalize our whole dev environment that has ended up sustaining us this whole time. They led by example, and they also left tools that became embraced by almost everyone over time. These guys are so good, and they have the capacity to always expand. I refer friends to Waverley all the time.
How did Waverley Software perform from a project management standpoint?
We use Slack, JIRA, and we have daily standups and sprint planning meetings. A lot of those things are standardized across our team, but they were pioneered by Waverley. These are all things they asked for when I asked them to come up with standards. We started that well over a year before the rest of the company mandated it to all teams.
What did you find most impressive about Waverley Software?
Sasha brought in people who got it done in weeks, and this is just one of many examples. As our project manager, she has an amazing ability to recruit talent and get them on board, and then she manages them. She’ll talk to us, then turn around and make sure they got the message, that they’re on-track, and that their JIRA tickets are updated, all of that. To me, that’s kind of unique. They’re able to tailor what they offer to our individual needs, and I don’t know I’d find it in another Ukrainian firm.
Are there any areas Waverley Software could improve?
One of their strengths is also sometimes frustrating. Their independence and their fierce drive can be difficult, especially when you’re trying to change in the middle of a sprint. They take the rules of Scrum and sprints pretty seriously. One of the implied contracts in Scrum is that you never change direction in the middle of a sprint. That’s just something that does not work for us. Quite often, they have to do it, they have to change. They’ll do it at Waverley, but they’ll do it under objection. So, if anything, they take their own rules very seriously, even when their customer is telling them something else. I also grew to respect that, and as their manager, I tried to seriously minimize when I asked them to break the sanctity of the two-week sprint session. I knew anytime I did, I was going to face a bit of a fight.
Do you have any tips or advice for potential clients?
One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that, when you treat an offshore firm, or even an onshore contractor, as a black box or not a member of your team, you’re going to get results that reflect that. I really, truly believe that a lot of the success we had with Waverley is because we didn’t treat them as somebody else. We treated them as an extension of ourselves. For me, that translated into everything. Once I had the people, I really wanted to go to them. It isn’t practical to bring all of them to me. The effect that had on them morally, and just from a daily point of view about their excitement and enthusiasm, was definitely a reflection of the fact that they had a customer who cared enough about them to visit.
I really recommend that to people, and a lot of people look at me like I’m crazy. They don’t want to go to Bangalore or Ukraine. It makes all the difference in the world to actually know these people as people, go out to dinner with them, or go to a party with them. Especially for long-term engagements, I recommend clients to get to know them as members of your team. If you don’t, you’re going to be somewhat disappointed with the results.