Project Background and Scope
Like many small businesses, we depend on a third-party IT Company for technical support. The IT Company we work with was instrumental as a consultant/contractor for our website development. Much of the past work on the website was outsourced overseas. It was not uncommon for simple requests to take more than six months to complete. Due to poor response times and a decrease in website performance, we started to shop for a local organization that could both educate and assist with the website updates necessary to scale our business.
The immediate goals were to eliminate login errors, lost and/or incorrectly transmitted orders, and hosting issues. Based on past experience, we expected this to be both a costly and lengthy process. Shrine Development far exceeded what we thought was possible in a very short time. We expanded our goals to include more marketing functionality and improved design.
We wanted a vendor that was within a few hours of our main office. In June 2018 we began interviewing multiple developers and pursued a few into the quoting stage. Shrine Development was chosen because they understood the urgency of our project. Their willingness to work with our current e-commerce platform to accomplish our immediate business goals was a driving force in our decision. In October, 2018, we selected Shrine Development as our development partner.
The Shrine Team duplicated our e-commerce website on a separate host server where we could both view changes being made as well as test the result in a live environment. They quickly identified specific problems and resolved them. In each case, they were able to initiate corrective measures in less than the quoted time.
Each project has been a team effort consisting of two members of our company and representatives of Shrine Development. I worked directly with Doug and Chad on the completed updates to the current e-commerce website. Other team members were pulled in to assist as needed.
The update currently in process involves nine members of the Shrine Development Team. Additionally, Malissa is spearheading the research for a potential future project involving an e-commerce website with an integrated ERP system.
Shrine Development replaced an existing IT service provider, providing e-commerce development, testing (via a duplicate server), and launching. They’ve also enhanced design, UX elements, and branding.
To date, Shrine has eliminated errors, assisted with new hosting, increased our website's performance, added desired design changes, improved the user experience, and integrated our new branding. At every step our e-commerce website improvements were launched with zero downtime. They are currently working on structural changes to allow customized marketing to specific customers.
Project Outcome and Feedback
We are on track to have the website updates completed and launched ahead of schedule. Since the initial updates went live, we have been adding new customers. Customer concerns about error messages, or an inability to access the website have been eliminated. The addition of branding to the design provides a more professional look. Our confidence level in the reliability of our e-commerce website has vastly improved. We now feel the website is the selling tool necessary to lead our expansion efforts.
Project Management Feedback
They present themselves as a professional team and follow through on that perception. All projects are managed through Basecamp, which provides a large assortment of tools to track the progress of assigned tasks. Basecamp also provides a time-stamped platform for instant communication. Communication with the people doing the work is what makes working with Shrine Development so efficient and successful.
Shrine Development understood our priorities and goals. They did not force their own agenda on us. They asked appropriate questions to gain clarity before moving forward. Their use of Basecamp was especially helpful in keeping all parties informed and up to date on the progress being made. It has been an inclusive experience.
Any suggestions for improvement?
Budgets are important to customers and seeing justification for the money being spent over time is more comforting than one large lump sum at the end. If there were a way to post hours of work performed each day, it would reinforce that a customer's project is continually moving forward.