My name is Sam Knight, president, co-founder, and director of engineering. Bolt Software Technology is a small startup company with 11 employees.
Our mission is to challenge businesses to be better. We do that through our software solutions for subcontractors in the residential construction market. Currently, we have a scheduling, project management, and estimation solution that we provide. Our customers are the subcontractors who work for home builders throughout the US; our base spreads throughout all the major home building markets. We cater to an underserved industry segment with plumbers, electricians, roofers, concrete companies, and other individual contractors localized to their market working for the different home builders in the industry. We provide software solutions directly for them.
We needed more structure to our development process as well as more written code so we knew we needed help. We faced a decision as to whether we wanted to build out those processes internally. The problem that we had was that we had no predictability as to where we might be four months from now. I had relatively good insight into what could be done in the next week but past that point, it was very much gray. So we were putting a heavy emphasis on systemizing our development machine, our production. We look at it as a manufacturing facility no different than if you’re manufacturing doors to go in your house. You need to know your capabilities so you can know your output. That was the challenge we were facing. We needed help with the systematizing of recruiting and hiring and we weren’t really in a position to go out and find a director of engineering.
We hired two of your Ruby and Angular developers, both with full stack experience, though the main scope is the front end that helps contractors and others in the home building process manage projects.
Bryan Villafane and Hugo Rincon are the developers. We’ve also had some design work done by Brian Smith and Analdo Gomez. Since we’re moving our pages to Angular 8 we went through a whole redesign process to draw out some models of what that looks like as a single page application. Bryan and Hugo have been excellent! We hired Hugo because he had some AWS and DevOps experience if we needed him to access production. At first, we had some communication concerns but he onboarded very quickly -- his intellect and ability to get up to speed quickly has been very impressive.
Josh Causey was the guy who started our business, the visionary behind our product, and the foundation of everything we do. He found FullStack Labs on a Google search. I was extremely hesitant to take our first meeting with David, mainly because I’d had bad experiences in the past trying to work with third-party developers. This was because, number one, we couldn’t manage the developers directly and, number two, there were major communication barriers. The average person I was talking to wasn’t solving my problem of being able to get insight into my production capabilities and where we would be in the future. For example, we’d outsource some mobile development and it would take much longer than we thought because we weren’t able to estimate the scope of our project clearly. That was our challenge and hesitation coming into the call with David.
During the discovery process with FullStack Labs, three things changed my mind. The scope of talent that he had, meaning I could have anyone from a Bay Area engineer to an offshore team with high skill sets and good communication levels. Also, his team fit our budget, given that we were a bootstrap startup at the time. Finally, he had a layer of management that we couldn’t bring to the table. Even though we were managing Hugo and Bryan directly, there were internal processes in place for not only managing our Jira stories but billable hours and other systems, and so it was clear that we would have an effective system. We could manage the day-to-day execution but the overall systematized way that they performed, it was clear that it was very professional.
Work started in March 2019 and is continuing.
Hopefully indefinitely. There is no plan to scale back the development team; if anything we’ll bring on more! The price point is good, the results are good. We did scale back the design phase. Design is a project-based scenario and we understand that can be more expensive. We wanted to test out how much faster we could develop by having formal designs. The jury is still out on whether we’re seeing an actual return on the expensive price for Brian and Analdo and if that results in time savings on the back end.
We can look at production in Jira, where before FullStack Lab’s involvement we would be completing 10 stories in 10 days. Two months later we were completing over 30 stories in the same time period. Production has sped up but most importantly, our insight into our production capabilities has become accurate. We have confidence that we’re getting what we pay for from these developers.
The internal management of your developers. They’re professionals, they can work independently. When they get on our daily standups they stick to the format, they discuss what they did yesterday, what they’re doing today, and what they need help on. They’re prepared. I’ve worked with developers in the past and it was clear that they either hadn’t done any work or were very unprepared for the meeting. That shows good hiring, good training, and good management. The best thing about FullStack Labs has been your ability to hire good talent and your internal expectations of excellence, which is demonstrated by your management standards and development abilities.
We’re still uncertain on whether we see a return on design. The delivered product is great, but did it save us on the back end by spending more on the front end for our designs? The other thing would be that on our mobile apps our developers are all Native. In our world, we have native applications in Java and Objective C. We looked to you guys to see if we could fill those voids before going overseas, as your team does not do native applications. We have to do this because our apps have to work offline in these construction zones where there might not be cell coverage. Right now that’s the path we’re choosing to go down.
Design and Development of web-based application that helps contractors and others in the home building process manage projects.
The scope of talent that you have is impressive. You provide top-level developers at a reasonable cost, which is very valuable for a startup. In addition, your management processes result in developers who are always prepared and always effective.
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