Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
I’m the Founder and CEO @SmartexLab; we’re helping SMEs to digitize their business operations by developing custom software or by enhancing their existing solutions.
What was the idea behind starting this organization?
Before I started the company five years ago, I was an engineer myself and had experience working in several companies; mainly remote teams, distributed all around the globe. The big issue in distributed teams is communication, and back then, due to the restrictions, I thought I could make the process work better if starting and managing my own company/team. We started as a dev shop and focused on helping B2C startups with developing excellent customer experiences. Later, we evolved into an end-to-end solution provider for established enterprises. Now we help them streamline their internal workflows, improving the bottom line, etc., through various solutions, such as reporting & analytics systems, for example.
What is your company’s business model–in house team or third party vendors/ outsourcing?
We only work in-house. We tried to work with freelancers, but this model is not as stable and predictable as when you have everyone sit in a single office. IP rights are a concern as well. Currently, our team’s headcount is close to 50.
How is your business model beneficial from a value addition perspective to the clients compared to other companies' models?
We’re not just a dev agency that does everything. Currently, we focus on a few industries and domains where we have accumulated deep expertise. We always try to think in terms of the business value we can bring to the table with our software solutions. Usually, we find that we can fulfill all tasks from internal analytics dashboards to customer-facing mobile apps.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive?
Our main focus is on the healthcare and financial industries. While these are broad and you can’t really cover it all, there are several sub-domains in each industry where we have had successful projects. Generally speaking, we can help small to mid-sized clinics to optimize processes related to revenue cycle management, scheduling, billing, office & practice management. With regards to fintech, we built solutions for automating payroll, payment processing, and risk & report management. We are quite confident in mortgage/loan software such as POS, LOS, etc. The last thing I’d like to mention is the move from old-fashioned software to a robust content management solution, and its integration with various software used internally. We also work on building these custom reach web/mobile interfaces connected to it.
Overall, small to medium-sized healthcare and financial organizations can rely on us for most of their software problems.
And getting back to the second question, I’ll just say that most of our business comes through referrals right now.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the time frame of developing software.
The first and foremost parameter is the scope, to be exact its volume, clarity, and complexity. Clarity determines the number of risks needed to be added to the time/cost estimate. But usually, for small to medium-sized projects and the fixed price model, we start with the Discovery phase wherein our Business Analyst and Tech Lead clarify and fix the scope beforehand, sometimes at this stage, we create a prototype when it is needed, and then we move to the development phase. The clients we work with usually like flexibility, the ability to change their minds and requirements when they need to. This is why we generally work through a T&M contract model and use the Agile process with iterative scoping.
How much effort in terms of time goes into developing the front end and back end of software?
It always depends. There are broad systems with heavy back-end and light UI with the ratio 80/20, and then there are systems that work the opposite, usually customer-facing apps.
What are the key parameters to be considered before selecting the right framework for developing software?
The general parameters we take into consideration are frameworks/languages of a client’s existing software, scalability, the speed of delivery, supported platforms and project size.
Which languages & frameworks do you prefer to use in development of software?
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of software?
The cost of the software is derived from an hourly estimation of the effort. We estimate development, quality assurance, and project management, and add risks where applicable. An example of risk is when you have integration with 3rd-party software sometimes the support team is way slower you expect it to be or even not responsive at all, and you either spend more time or also have to switch to another provider. This could impact the timeline and budget, so, we try to account for it beforehand.
What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients? Is it Pay per Feature, Fixed Cost, Pay per Milestone (could be in phases, months, versions etc.)
We do all of them, but usually, we work out a month-by-month payment plan for our clients.
Do you take in projects which meet your basic budget requirement? If yes, what is the minimum requirement? If no, on what minimum budget you have worked for?
To be honest, it all depends on a number of factors. We’ve worked on small PoC/MVP projects for $5,000 - $15,000, where there was very little or even no profit for us, but instead, we saw the opportunity to show our expertise to the client, a chance to understand their project better, and build a longer-term partnership for full-scale solution development.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2018?
I would say most of the projects fell into the $50,000 - $150,000 range. But we had small PoCs/MVPs as well as the large platforms that we will continue to develop and customize for several years.
Kindly share your feedback on how GoodFirms has been doing so far in increasing your visibility among potential clients.
It's always nice to have more online exposure, and GoodFirms has been useful in allowing our current/previous clients to tell others more about their experience with us. Currently, we're aiming to get more exposure on your website. Our ultimate goal is having GoodFirms a stable lead gen channel for our marketing team.