Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We work with an Agile project management approach, which makes it easy to keep track of the performance metrics in every sprint. Our new product has taken more than a year to develop, and it's ready to go live. I think that’s a very good time, given the level of complexity of the product. I don’t think I would have gotten any faster results from anyone else.
Our business model changed a year and a half ago, from being a nonprofit to a for-profit social enterprise. At that point, I had built up a pretty strong confidence because all of the developers were still with me. I know they can be trusted because they are essentially working on an actual model. The most important thing is the ability and knowledge of the team, as well as the quality of the work. Even though the technology stacks changed several times, they were able to pick up my new requirements. To my amazement, they rapidly built up the architecture and design of the product in the way that I wanted.
What is unique about Zymr is that they have a very deep, technical bench strength in the technology, no matter how complex the problems are. There are many companies who can build the software, but the depth of technology has been substantially high. I wouldn’t call it a metric but more of an observation. For example, one of the clients in this area needed very specific Salesforce integration skills, something that no other Salesforce company could do. Obviously, I have a lot of understanding of the integrations—I designed the initial architecture. But once we did that, we were very engaged with this team and they were able to figure out these things nonstop. I guess nobody else could have done it. We did the whole thing, and our customer is extremely happy and excited.
How did Zymr perform from a project management standpoint?
They did very well. In our case, we are managing things. They work very tightly and I’m partly technical, so that helps. It was my choice not bringing in a project manager because it would’ve cost more. Instead, I built up a very strong relationship with the main developers and the software architect. They manage the timeline fairly effectively among themselves. This is not a factor I can give you a lot of data on because I’m the one doing most of the project management.
What did you most impressive about Zymr?
I was impressed by their professionalism. They are a very professional design and delivery team. Second, their bench strength is significantly higher, which is very important for someone like us who works with a very broad range of technology. These are the 2 most important things that I would say about them. Plus, they are mission-driven like us.
Are there any areas Zymr could improve?
I can’t come up with anything. It doesn’t mean that I’m not trying to give you anything. It’s just that given the constraints in terms of resources and the money I can spend, I think they are doing phenomenally well for us. For one thing, I would prefer not to manage this team on a day-to-day basis. But since our project involves learning in a very iterative fashion, the way that we are doing it works out just fine. I wish we had a stronger development team of my own. I really cannot review the project delivery or the quality very thoroughly. It’s not really their fault. It’s just that I don’t have enough resources to examine whether they have a good quality code internally or not. Those are the issues that we face. Those are areas that when we have more customers—we’ll see how successful we will be because if our software does not scale, there will be an issue. There is a level of the uncertainty that will happen when we have more and more customers. With better and more success, I'm sure that we'll be able to invest in even stronger development teams.
What tips or recommendations could you share that might increase the likelihood of success with Zymr?
First of all, I would suggest that clients qualify their needs and the technology part of the project. There are things that they do well, but there are other things that they don’t do well. For example, they are not necessarily the best in content marketing or design, but they are very clear about it. If you asked them, they will probably give you some services, but that’s not their primary thing. The customer should really qualify them. Their level of technology and knowledge is higher than building the shell of the content management systems. They can do it, but that’s just because the customer will ask them to do it. But that is not their primary strength. Their primary strength is in software development—Java, PHP, SQL, building databases, and cloud-based architectures.