Professional shop, but poor coding and yield per sprint for iOS development
Role: CEO and Chief Scientist at Collar.Tech, Inc.
Starting small, we have one developer assigned, plus a part-time scrum master, and part-time QA. They were to expand the team, once we validated the development experience.
I initially found the company very responsive and impressive.
They appeared to have very good process, and a professional structure for agile project management.
Our goal was to build an MVP of our initial iOS app. We started with a smaller project, focusing on R&D, and our ability to use a required third-party SDK.
We reviewed several vendors, including the handful from Minsk. I traveled to Minsk personally to meet with them and other firms.
The project is confidential and I cannot get into too much detail, however it did focus on developing an IOS app that was required to speak to some hardware using a third-party SDK. It included audio and video components.
Their project management structure and process was quite professional. However, at the end of the day, code quality and yield is all that matters. Had we continued with the project and not canceled, we would have likely three times over budget for money and time, for the exact same specification we started with. I always expect a 20% variance when developing projects using scrum rather than waterfall, but this variance and continued inability to predict sprint yield was unacceptable.
The communication and working with their team was actually quite good. They were responsive with issues and questions, and communicated well. However, their code quality and yield was very poor. The abstraction of code wasn't up to international standard nor our documented standard, and their yield per Sprint was the lowest I've ever seen. It started to feel like a bait and switch, though I don't believe there was any malicious intent on their side.
The R&D project was successful. However, it seems in the very beginning, they applied some of the most experienced developers to get us in the door. Once in, they assigned another developer in house and don't appear to monitor their progress well. The early alarm bells rang when we reviewed their legal documentation for engagement, and their legal paperwork was 4x longer than any other competitor. It is always concerning when a service provider seems to be so concerned on collection and protecting themselves with no provisions on the quality of their work... that usually means they had problems in the past with quality or deliverability. We should have stopped there. We also would generally start to receive late collection emails within 24 hours after the invoice arrived. We usually paid within three business days, and still would have received three or four communications for collection. A very annoying and strange behavior.
In general, we lost several months and $15,000+ on the engagement. Either iOS Isn't directly in their skill set, or we may have suffered from some sort of aberration. In general, it turned out very disappointing. At the end of project, they offered no regret, no discount, no remorse, and appeared quite agitated. They did offer to add an additional developer for a sprint or two, then suggested we double developer hours to accommodate for their poor story point progress doubling my cost. At the end, we had spent significant money on the project, in addition to thousands of dollars traveling to Belarus to meet the team and kick things off. It was a highly disappointing experience. Development shops aren't always a good match for every project, but the attitude and actions of a service provider when things go sideways, are generally the most telling of their character. The best decision we made was to pull our project.
Services: Mobile App Development
Project Status: In progress