Web Dev for University Research Database
- Higher Education
- Web Development
- Database Platform
- 1,001-5,000 Employees
- Texas, USA
They do what we ask them to do and they do it quickly.- Institute Director, University
4.5/5 CLIENT REVIEW
Praxent designed and developed a database platform to store large amounts of data for teaching assessments. The team created multiple custom features and data-entry options for this large research project.
The quality of the site meets the original specifications and integrated 7 different data sets. Praxent is extremely responsive and generally finishes deliverables before the timeline. The team’s project management is exceptional, with minimal turnover or issues that affect clients.
Introduce your business and what you do there.
I am the director of an institute at a university. We have a state grant to perform a state assessment on a series of teaching programs across Texas.
Opportunity / Challenge
What challenge were you trying to address with Praxent?
The State’s assessment project would have ongoing cycles of anywhere from 18 to 29 universities working with teachers throughout Texas, which would mean anywhere from about 700 to 1,300 teachers in any of the two-year cycles of this funded project.
The main challenge was to be able to collect data that could be easily and safely put into a repository and extracted as needed. It needed to be able to collect certain pieces of data in real time, and other pieces in deferred time, all while keeping it safe. Some of the data is numeric and some of it is alpha-data, like online reflections and interviews that have been transcribed as Word documents.
What was the scope of their involvement?
Praxent built the data-collection site for us. Initially, it was housed here at the university, but in the years since we’ve been working with Praxent, we’ve gone cloud based. They did all the technical work to make the site, as well as the user interface, following our specifications. We would tell them where we’d want a button, a drop down menu, a color to change, etc. We drove the design process and they implemented it. They created a total of seven data areas, some of which talk to each other and some of which don’t. A few examples of these data areas and their functionalities are below.
One functionality they produced on the site allows teachers to go to a predetermined URL and enter an anonymous code to then answer a series of reflections. There’s no way to connect them in any way to who they actually are. Using that code, they enter in their reflections, and another database allows them to take a pre- and post-assessment test. Those scores are then entered here at the university so that we have a numeric, pre-content understanding.
We had had another company build an app allowing observers observe teachers and note information about what’s happening, which then ties into the site Praxtent built, becoming numeric and is put into the database when the observer clicks ‘submit’.
We also have a silo for concept maps that allows teachers to do a pre- and post-concept map. Those are graded numerically and get put into the database.
Lastly, we have people who perform interviews over the phone at the end of the cycle they participate in. That is sent off to a transcriber and they come back to us as Word documents and those are put into the system. For any one teacher, you could get all of that information with the new site.
How did you come to work with Praxent?
Because this is using state money from the federal government, there were a lot of precautions we had to go through in terms of getting bids from different companies, making sure that the companies all met the state standards. Knowing that there was a vetting process that whittled us down to a subset of companies that could do the work.
Then we narrowed it down to about three companies. The way Praxent did their interview is for a flat fee, you could work with them for a full day. We went to Austin and five of us from four different locations around the state met with them all day long. We described what we thought we needed. We talked about what services they’d already done for people and how it might look. We did a similar kind of process with two other companies and we chose Praxent. We just clicked with Praxent.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working together 7-9 years ago and the work is ongoing.
Results & Feedback
What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
The site is only used by teachers and the project directors themselves; it’s not an open URL. We don’t check to see how many clicks or whether people go from one location to another location. The quality of the site has met our expectations.
How did Praxent perform from a project management standpoint?
They perform very well. They respond almost immediately to any issues. They always respond with a time frame that it will take for it to be fixed. They email me again to let me know when it’s corrected or if they need more information.
During the first two or three years, we met every other week virtually. That became less and less over time and now all the work is done through email. They do what we ask them to do and they do it quickly.
What did you find most impressive about them?
I’ve never done anything like this before; it’s a totally unique situation for me. So I have nothing to judge them against. I’m impressed with their timeliness.
I also find it amazing that when their designers go on vacation, they cut them off from being able to work, they can’t even get into their emails. They always assign someone else. That is such a wonderful thing. I wish everybody in the US would do that. That being said, it never interrupts my work. If I send an email while our contact is away, somebody else will have already been assigned to our account. It gets put through the system just as quickly.
Are there any areas they could improve?
There’s always room for improvement. The place we fall down on sometimes is that they’re a group of young, techy people trying to communicate with somebody who has none of that same vocabulary. They did a very good job of trying to hear what was being said, but that’s weak place in the relationship. One member of our leadership team is highly technical and understood the project and the federal regulations. So he often acted as a translator for what the leadership team was saying and what Praxent did or didn’t hear us say. That will most likely always be a problem. As these young people get older, they will talk a language that’s totally different from their clients.
On Time / Deadlines
Service & Deliverables
Value / Within estimatesnnI have no idea because this is brand new, but we’ve been satisfied. As you can tell, I don’t give 5s.
Willing to RefernnTruth is, I don’t know anybody else. They’re the only company like this that I know. If anybody asked me about a company, they’re the only one.
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