What was the scope of their involvement?
Zealous helped us build small pieces of code for our existing applications. They assembled a team of Flex developers to assist us, and have since made the project their own. They gained a deep understanding of our business processes and the content behind the system. We engage with our university clients and relay requested changes and improvements to Zealous without going through a deep business analysis.
Our second project also revolved around assessments, but it was a high-level, web-based, data-driven app that allowed students to take online tests and submit evidence. It also allowed testers to log in and mark that evidence, and helped training companies manage the process. We began that project through initial scoping with Zealous.
Up until that point, we had asked their developers to jump into existing software applications and learn as a part of our team. For this project, we put together a scope and process map for them. They took it from there, identifying the right tech stack and developing the platform.
What is the team composition?
Zealous is an extension of our team, and they easily account for 30% of our resource workforce. If we need to scale, they can provide even more than that. This relates to our ability to operate at the moment.
Depending on the environment, we engage with two or three select individuals from their team. Now we’re working with a project manager who engages directly with our development and non-development teams. He’s open to speaking directly with the product owners, who don’t understand the technical aspect but but can tell him what they want.
I also have a direct line to their managing director. When there a task is under pressure, and our project manager is unsure about their ability to deliver in time, I highlight the importance of the work to the director. Having the ability to speak to the company owner has always been helpful.
How did you come to work with Zealous System?
We did a bit of research in terms of resources per hour. We ran another project several years ago within a specific open-source platform called Vtiger. Because it had been built in India, we specifically targeted agencies there, and were lucky enough to find some of the platform’s original developers. We brought them to South Africa, where they ended up working for our organization full-time. There is some great talent in India, but we also found some bad apples when initially engaging with software companies and trying to find those resources.
From Zealous’ perspective, it was a two-sided win. They were one of several companies that approached us after we placed an advertisement on a resource platform similar to PeoplePerHour. Because we had learned a lot while dealing with offshore companies, they immediately understood what we wanted. We gave Zealous a small piece of work, and continued to cultivate the relationship. They delivered time and time again.
We chose them were because they’d done work in the educational space before and understood how colleges and universities worked. Before this, we struggled to engage with other development companies in other countries. We feel that we’ve hit the jackpot with Zealous. They get the work done, and they get it done well.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working with Zealous System in March 2014. We’ve invested a lot of money into development of the application, and it’s now going into its second tier. When we moved out of Jetweb and started Synrgise, we took the application with us and continued the relationship with Zealous. We have delivered two pilots and began a beta test at the end of November 2017. We met the target successfully, made some minor changes, and we went live on January 1, 2018.