Could you share any statistics or metrics from this engagement?
Because they're collaborating with us directly we don't track their progress in that way. There wouldn't be a way to differentiate between the productivity of our team and their team. However, I can tell you that our QA [quality assurance] people have been sufficiently impressed with the quality and consistency of their work. We don't receive a lot of support requests from our end-users relating to bugs or defects.
How did XSolve perform from a project management standpoint?
There were cases when I had to assign work, and after I contacted them, I usually received a response the same day or the day after. For solving the problem, it usually took them up to a week. In one case, it took two weeks, because they required more information from the client who had initiated the problem in our database.
The performance of the system varies depending the traffic on the Internet. If it is high and the servers are overloaded, the system will have reduced efficiency and will operate slower. On a more regular basis, the system works exactly as it should. When issues came up on the back-end, they were solved within a reasonable timeframe. XSolve maintained an exceptional level of service.
There were no issues with unresponsiveness or work delivered late. There was one case when I requested a fix on JIRA, and they didn't reply the next day. I have the email contact to the project manager; I sent him an e-mail and he replied almost instantly. We don't have issues with unresponsiveness.
What distinguishes XSolve from other providers?
It's a standard client-partner relationship, nothing special. Recently, I gave them a big problem to resolve, as there were some legal changes in our policy system. They were checking on our end to see how deep they have to change the program, and they were carefully evaluating the information. I had to wait for about a week, but this was a special case. I would not regard it as an indication of their day-to-day performance because it was a bigger issue. Their carefulness about the change in the system, maybe this was special. Other than that, it's the same as with other companies.
In hindsight, are there areas in which they could improve, or things you might do differently?
They could potentially work on understanding the environment in which their clients are using their own systems. Sometimes, they didn't understand that our clients work under the pressure of time, and that slower performance of the system is really unacceptable for the client. It's hard to evaluate such things from behind a desk. Only if the manager speaks about the use of the program, that might help to catch such issues. I'm not blaming them, but they could send somebody to see how it works in real life, when the program is used.
What advice, if any, would you give a future client of theirs?
Regarding the programs, when you want to acquire a new program from another company, you must know exactly what you need. A client should be specific about the environment in which it will be used. As I said earlier, they are not checking the environment themselves, so new clients should know that they have to check that. Give the program to someone who will use it, to evaluate if it's something they really need or just something they think they need. We've been working with our program for two years, and some issues came up that, in my opinion, could have been avoided by paying more attention in the very beginning.