What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
This year, a lot of results have come from Xmartlabs, as they comprise 50%–60% of our development resources. We’re seeing increases in our web and Android traffic and higher retention and engagement of those users. This could reasonably be attributed with the work that they have done in conjunction with the product side, the features they’re implementing, how they look, etc.
How did Xmartlabs perform from a project management standpoint?
They are fully integrated into our tools, so we communicate with them regularly in Slack, JIRA, Confluence, and GitHub. We’re in those tools all day. We run Agile development, and they’re full participants in all of the standard meetings that we have. We have daily standups, sprint reviews, planning meetings, and sprint retrospectives. We’re in constant communication with them throughout the day.
Regarding deadlines, despite being contractors, they have pulled several all-nighters, and they don’t bill for overtime, as we have hard external deadlines around feature releases or new operating system updates from Apple, etc. They have a sense of commitment to meeting deadlines, even if it requires working after hours or weekends.
What did you find most impressive about them?
Culturally, they are more similar to developers you would hire in the U.S., which is great. They don’t blindly do what you ask them to implement. I don’t always have time to exhaustively think through, test, and spec out the best way to implement new features. They proactively make suggestions if they think there is a better way to do something, and they bring that up in an amicable way, and we discuss it. Often times, we end up changing the implementation based on their recommendations.
Being contractors, they’ve worked on a lot of different projects. They’ve seen a lot of different code bases and challenges, so that’s been useful. In addition to the people we have full-time, Enrique [Co-Founder and COO, Xmartlabs] oversees and does some project managing of the team. He joins high-level meetings or technology strategy meetings to provide insight that you’d gain from working with a lot of different clients over the years. It’s useful to get that outside, diverse perspective on some things.
Are there any areas they could improve?
Hiring developers full-time is a huge issue. It takes forever, and it’s expensive. They have scheduled their resources, but with a little upfront planning, like a month or so, we can bring on new developers without having to go through the huge cost of interviewing because they’ve done the vetting for us, and we trust that. Although there is disparity, of course, in how good all the developers are, which would be expected, there is some minimum level of competency that anyone they bring on has.
Do you have any advice for potential customers?
Try to make them as much a part of your organization as you can. You want them to feel like they’re part of the team, and you want to get to know them. To help them get motivated and committed to it, help them understand the context and the business case for the work that they’re doing.