Staff Augmentation Services Deliver Quick Wins for People Management Software Company
- Enterprise HR and People Management Software Company
- Staff Augmentation, Development, API Integration
- Product integrations, Long-term partnership
“We’re pretty picky when it comes to hiring developers and making sure we have a high-performance team. That makes it very challenging—especially in this market where developers can get 20 job offers a day—to actually get the good developers. It’s been a big bottleneck in our ability to grow.— Client Testimonial
A people management software company, primarily serving the public sector that offers an integrated suite of solutions designed to help organizations hire, develop, manage, and motivate top talent.
The client was seeking an exceptional long-term partner to augment its development team and deliver well-scoped feature sets with code that cleared its architects’ high standard for quality. They were looking to overcome the challenges associated with not being able to hire enough quality full-time architects and software engineers in order to speed up their product roadmap and increase their ability and frequency of taking ideas to market.
The initial scope of work was to seamlessly integrate two APIs between the client’s system and a vendor they were looking to partner with that they hadn’t had the capacity to prioritize and build themselves. The client engaged Praxent to build the two integrations in phased releases and was hoping to be able to reuse some of the functionality in its other platforms.
The client was so impressed with the depth of business analysis, how quickly Praxent was able to start work, the high quality of engineers and code, on-time and under-budget delivery, and day-to-day project management (which freed them to focus on serving their customers).
I was just really impressed with Praxent at every level, starting with the senior leadership team and the thoroughness with which Praxent analyzed the engagement, talked me through processes, and aligned with a lot of the work we do already. … Software development is my day job. Being intimately familiar with it makes it really easy to spot people who know what they’re doing. Praxent really falls in that bucket—not just the software development, not just the engineering; it’s project management and the whole way [they treat] the engagement.
An established company with an excellent track record and world-class team, was growing rapidly and needed to build on its existing talent in order to launch new, innovative products and better serve its customers.
Their biggest challenge was finding a development team to augment theirs that could serve as a true partner—first and foremost by meeting their architects’ high standard of quality and secondly by delivering on time and on budget.
They identified two strategic integration projects on their backlog they could easily outsource to serve as an initial engagement.
How We Helped
From the very beginning of the engagement, Praxent provided in-depth analysis and understanding of the integrations and what they entailed, the capabilities of the client’s system and what it was trying to add, and how the integrations would work from a technical standpoint.
The client was impressed with Praxent’s project management, processes, transparency, and regular check-ins, knowledge transfer, and promptness.
Praxent built two API integrations: one is a system that allows companies to either pre-record interview questions and have the interviewee record their answers or conduct a live interview that is recorded and can be viewed by others later.
The second one is a scheduling system that allows users to set up in-person assessments at proctored test facilities.
Development was completed on both and handed off to the client, who requested additional capabilities before beginning QA and code review.
Both were delivered on time and on or under budget, and the quality of the engineers and code so exceeded the client’s expectations.
“Retaining good people has never been a problem. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we’ve got a great team, we do great work, and we continue to grow, but building that team has really been a struggle. I wouldn’t say it’s preventing us from being able to deliver from a business standpoint. We’ve got tons of great ideas from an R&D perspective that we’d love to be able to do and bring to market; we just don’t have the time and enough bodies to be able to really do that work.
“I was investigating other alternatives to be able to make progress against those types of goals, and that’s where I found Praxent as well as several other similar kinds of companies. I sent out some feelers through email and got some responses.”
How we Helped
DEVELOPMENT AND QA
- Two (2) API integrations
- Extensive configurability and workflow customization. The client’s internal staff use the platform’s workflow designer to support sequencing and branching in the assessment process.
- Paid customization: Some customizations produce additional revenue while the client is able to retain the IP rights.
- Modern Tech Stack: The platform is supported by a suite of Node.JS microservices, built leveraging a modern tech stack: hosted in Docker, leveraging Kubernetes and a Mongo database. The user interface is coded in Angular, with Java and some Python on the backend.
- Embedding quality assurance
- Performing end-to-end testing with each sprint to ensure high-quality code delivery
Project Management and Handoff
- Phased-release planning
- Weekly-status reporting of budget, scope, and timeline progress with a demo and walkthrough so the client could see things working and if there were areas that were interpreted a different way than they had intended. This enabled adjustments to be made early and quickly.
- Hand-off, which consisted of pushing the code into a branch so the client could perform a code review and make any changes that were needed themselves.
- Walking through the functionality with client architects and making adjustments where necessary
“Going into the engagement, I had two projects in mind, both integration projects between our system and a vendor that we’re looking to partner with for other customer engagements that we just haven’t had the time to focus on and be able to build those integrations. The good thing about it is it was really kind of a self-contained project, so it was well suited to be able to kind of break off something for Praxent or another contractor.”
“So, several months ago now, maybe mid-to-late 2020, we were in a situation where for several years we’ve been growing quickly, which is great, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. We’re pretty picky when it comes to hiring developers and making sure we have a high-performance team. As a result, that makes it very challenging—especially in this market where developers can get 20 job offers a day—to actually get the good developers. It’s just been a big bottleneck in our ability to grow, being able to actually hire good people.”
“I was just really impressed with Praxent at every level—starting with the senior leadership team and the thoroughness with which Praxent analyzed the engagement, talked me through processes, and aligned with a lot of the work we do already. Because again, this isn’t a situation where your customer doesn’t do software development. We do a lot of software development. It’s my day job. Being intimately familiar with that helps and makes it really easy to spot people that know what they’re doing. And Praxent really falls in that bucket. And it’s not just the software development either. It’s not just the engineering. It’s also project management and the whole way the engagement gets treated. We do a lot of contract work ourselves.
“So I’m very familiar with that, and seeing how Praxent runs their teams has been awesome as well, I mean the transparency and having regular check-ins, getting us all the information we need and being prompt.
“And there was really good in-depth analysis on Praxent’s part and understanding of exactly what the integrations entailed, what the capabilities of our system are today and what we were trying to add, how the integrations would work from a technical standpoint. And again, because that’s what we do day to day anyway, I thought it was a really good partnership. We already had all the information that Praxent really needed. So I think it just was very seamless in terms of the way we were able to provide the information and work through the analysis and answer questions and all that type of stuff.
“We haven’t gotten into the actual code review yet so it’s tough for me to talk about that but as far as the initial handoff, it was great. We’ve got a process already from the previous project where we’re able to get Praxent contractors into our systems and give them access to source code and documentation and all that. And we have a standard onboarding documentation, both from a system standpoint but also technical developer-type documentation, which I think has been very helpful, and a bunch of training on our platform and how it all works. And it’s very technical; it’s geared toward developers. So that’s all available and we’ve made that available to Praxent, and I think that’s helped in the process a lot.”
“Praxent picks things up really quickly.
“When they have questions, they let us know. We communicate through Teams and chat all the time, so if something comes up, they ping one of us, and if I don’t have an answer, I’ll put them in touch with someone else from the team that’ll be available.
“That’s really been pretty infrequent in terms of them needing help. They are very autonomous and able to make progress without us being engaged very much, which is ideal for me.
“Throughout the actual development process, we’ve had our weekly check-ins. We get a demo and a walkthrough of where we’re at, both from a project status and financial standpoint, as well as the actual technical development. We get to see things working and ask questions, which is also great so we can really see what has been accomplished and what is still outstanding and if there are areas where maybe it was interpreted a different way than we had intended. We can make adjustments early and quickly within that process before it becomes a big issue.
“As far as the final handoff, that’s something that we’re actively working through right now. It’s really just pushing up the code into a branch and then us doing our code review. We’ll meet and do more of a walkthrough of the functionality with our architects and discuss the code review results and if there’s anything that we want Praxent to change.
“A couple things that I’ve been impressed with with Praxent are first, being able to find good developers and have them available to work on the things that we need to work on.
“But also, when there is a need to transition from one developer to another, after the first project ends we have to switch out to a different developer. That process was really pretty seamless; there was maybe a week or two overlap where there was a lot of knowledge transfer. It was fortunate in that we were going from one project to another so there was a little bit of a reset anyway.
“The other thing that I was impressed with is, I think Joe had some vacation partway through, and Praxent was really eager to maintain the schedule and everything and ensure that that didn’t impact us in any way. They brought in a more senior developer to help out in that interim while Joe was having his vacation, which is awesome, that worked really well. I had some doubts that it was actually going to work because, especially bringing someone in that had never done anything related to the project to then just help out for a week. But Mansi who came in, did an awesome job and was able to make progress and keep things going.
“So that was just a really pleasant surprise, honestly. My expectation was that okay we would just have a week gap in a schedule where we didn’t make progress. And then when I heard we were bringing the other person, I was like, ‘We’ll see how that goes. And it was really good.”
“The short answer is, these two integrations these guys have been working on definitely would not have happened in any other way. It’s not something our team would have had the bandwidth to be able to do, but it’s allowed us to focus on our other priorities and things we were committed to in terms of customer engagements. Just from a risk standpoint—that’s how we handled this as we picked things that were low risk—if they didn’t work at all, certainly we’d be upset because we want them, but we didn’t have a customer that was waiting for it on, say, March 26, and we’re not ready and we’re stuck waiting. So, it really helped us kind of feel out the process of working with Praxent.
“And, you know, the reason we’re looking to do more of a staff augmentation approach is because we think there is opportunity for this to continue on a longer-term basis. You’ve done great work, and we’re confident we would be able to do that and have Praxent work on things that have more of a true deadline.”
Results & Feedback
“Development is pretty much complete on both of them at this point, and we’re now actually going back and looking to enhance the original one that we did to add some additional capability to the integration.
“I have to say honestly, each of the three main levels in terms of leadership, coming in initially and not just doing the pitch of Praxent and what you guys do and why you’re great at it, but much more kind of analyzing the company and our business and what we’re trying to achieve, and really getting an understanding of that early on, I was impressed with that.
“From a PM standpoint, the tracking and showing the burndown on the runway and where we’re at in comparison to progress has been really clear, and that’s been great as well. And then finally, of course, the development and actually getting the work done has been really good.”
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