Application Dev for Language E-Learning Company

"Looking back, Intellias couldn’t have done a better job. Nothing negative comes to mind."
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Hendrik Langner, CEO, Phase-6

flag Germany Landsberg am Lech, Germany

Mar 16, 2017

5.0

Quality: 5.0
Schedule: 5.0
Cost: 4.5
Willing to refer: 5.0
Project summary

Intellias built a completely new architecture for German company, Phase6, moving an offline legacy product to a modern, cloud-based platform & creating native iOS and Android solutions for their mobile needs.

Feedback summary

Intellias worked with Phase6 since the inception of the new platform, and the collaboration is expected to continue. Any scheduling and communication problems are resolved quickly through the use of comprehensive project management tools.

Background

Introduce your business and what you do there. Phase6 is a German limited company that helps students improve their vocabulary in different languages with software solutions for desktop and mobile devices. We are the market leader in our segment in Germany, and our customers are students aged 10-15 and their parents. Currently we have 20 employees.

I am the CEO. Formerly, I was the product manager on this project for a long period until I transferred most of the responsibility to a new product manager in 2016.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Intellias? In 2012 we had two separate products for mobile and desktop, which were not connected. The legacy product had been quite successful in Germany for almost 10 years, but it was an offline solution for PC and Mac. Even though both products did essentially the same thing, a switch from one product to the other was not possible. We were looking to build a platform where both products could connect, and we knew we needed to switch to a cloud platform with mobile apps, in other words, a modern architecture. This platform was also supposed to become the core of a completely new product version that would enable us to offer more modern usability with web and mobile clients to our users, which would allow us to grow faster and provide better services to our customers.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement? Intellias developed our solution natively for iOS and Android. Our backend is Java, and we also have an HTML5 and JavaScript web application. We are currently working with a 7-person team from Intellias’ side, including 2 QA resources. Earlier in the project, we had up to 11 people working on the project.

How did you come to work with Intellias? We were looking for a service provider that was able to provide a scalable team of highly skilled engineers at a competitive price. We were also looking for a midsize company to make sure that our project was one of their larger projects, and so we would have senior management attention if needed. This was a big advantage for us when looking at Intellias because they weren’t too big at the time. We looked for developers in Ukraine since we already had one developer there who had been working for us for a long time and with whom we were happy. We reviewed a couple of different companies there. When we looked at some reviews for Intellias’ developers on a platform specializing in companies from that region, they had the best reviews for their resources.

Since we hadn’t managed any large projects before, we were also looking for experienced project managers who would help us increase the chances for a successful project and help integrate our own designer into this project. The project duration of the original scope was 3 years and then switched to a long-term development project that would continue improving and maintaining the existing product.

How much have you invested with Intellias? The project has been running for almost 5 years, during which time we’ve spent between €300,000–€500,000 [$355,000–$591,000] every year. We currently spend closer to €300,000. Overall, the cost has been between €1.5 million–€2 million. [$1.7 million–$2.3 million]

What is the status of this engagement? We started working with Intellias in the beginning of 2012. The project is ongoing, and it will continue for a long time.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement? Five years after the project started, customer satisfaction, conversion rates, and overall system performance are at an all time high. Project management is now in our own hands, and I wouldn’t want to change it back. Our original concept of separating product and project management encountered too many challenges, which resulted in schedule and budget overruns. I am still not sure whether this concept could have been more successful or whether it completely contradicts the idea of agile development. The most significant result has been that Intellias developed our main (and pretty much only) product. Our revenue depends on its maintenance, so if our continued existence and growth as a company can be considered results, then we’ve been successful!

How did Intellias perform from a project management standpoint? We are using Atlassian software, namely JIRA and Confluence. The most important part of project management is having a structured approach using tools like these. We had some minor issues in the beginning sticking to deadlines, but we’re currently on a very good track. This may have been a communication problem, and it’s normal that with every new project and from both sides, some expectations aren’t met in the beginning.

What did you find most impressive about Intellias? Our initial expectation was that we would have access to management if we had any problems. We did have some issues in the beginning, but we always found a solution. I’ve seen projects fail at points like these, but we always got through every problem with Intellias.

Are there any areas Intellias could improve? We wanted everything to run smoothly from the beginning and, looking back, Intellias couldn’t have done a better job. Nothing negative comes to mind.

Rating

Scheduling 5.0 ON TIME / DEADLINES
After some problems in the beginning were solved, we started meeting schedules

Quality 5.0 SERVICE & DELIVERABLES
The overall quality is very good, but we have had some arguments on whether the approach was always the best one

Cost 4.5 VALUE / WITHIN ESTIMATES
The cost was better when we started.

NPS 5.0 WILLING TO REFER
I have referred them.

App and Backend Development for Educational Technology Startup

“It’s really great for a startup company to have a partner like this."
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Daniel Gorin, Founder, Alphary AG

flag Austria Vienna, Austria

Mar 16, 2017

5.0

Quality: 5.0
Schedule: 5.0
Cost: 5.0
Willing to refer: 5.0
Project summary

Intellias built an Android and iOS app, which included A.I. for backend solutions. They also provided staffing, infrastructure hosting, business analysis and end-to-end implementation.

Feedback summary

Oxford University Press licensed the developed technology for worldwide distribution. Intellias' quality assurance and flexibility were noted; they had a dedicated QA engineer and their owners were available for communication.

Background

Introduce your business and what you do there. We’re an educational technology startup. We develop technological solutions for our B2B clients, which are typically publishers in the education space and private schools. I’m the founder and CEO.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Intellias? The goal was to have a flexible and scalable programming team. We needed to recruit talented programmers quickly, which is hard to do in Austria. We also wanted to be able to scale the team up and down based on the needs of the project.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement? They provide a full service: everything from staffing your team, hosting them with their infrastructure, doing the requirements and business analysis of your project, and then the end-to-end implementation. They also handle the quality assurance, requirements management, deployment, and operations. It’s a full-service agency. We can decide who we need on our team through Intellias. They’re also flexible when we do some work ourselves and only need them for the programming. They have a nice business model.

They built an app for iOS and Android for one of our projects. We license the app to various education companies. They built the whole backend solution for the app, including some artificial intelligence.

How did you come to work with Intellias? About five years ago, we decided we wanted a development partner in a particular town in Ukraine. We visited the area and interviewed three different companies. Intellias was the smallest one, and we liked them the best. We liked their people and their approach. We liked that they were small enough to allow us to talk directly to the owners. They’ve grown a lot since then, but we have a very good relationship.

How much have you invested with Intellias? We spend between €250,000 and €750,000 [US $268,700–$806,100] every year.

What is the status of this engagement? We’ve been working with them since June or July of 2012, and the relationship is ongoing.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement? We have quite a few educational apps on the market that were developed by Intellias. Maybe our biggest success story is that Oxford University Press, the biggest English-language learning materials publisher in the world, has licensed our technology for worldwide distribution.

How did Intellias perform from a project management standpoint? We use JIRA, and there is usually a dedicated project manager on the team. We share the infrastructure, and my team in Austria is using the same tools. It’s really quite seamless.

What did you find most impressive about Intellias? The most unique thing about them is their flexibility. You can talk to the two business owners, and there’s no corporate red tape. They provide very pragmatic solutions. It’s really great for a startup company to have a partner like this.

They also always provide a dedicated quality assurance engineer. They’re very experienced in covering all the different types of quality assurance: manual, automated, integrated testing, unit testing, system-level testing, and performance testing. They do all of this by default

Are there any areas Intellias could improve? Not really. I’m quite happy all around.

Rating

Scheduling 5.0 ON TIME / DEADLINES
We always plan with enough buffers, and they respond well to that. We never have issues with project delays.

Quality 5.0 SERVICE & DELIVERABLES
They have very strong processes in place. Quality has never been an issue.

Cost 5.0 VALUE / WITHIN ESTIMATES
Because they’re in Ukraine, we pay about half the cost for equal staff in Western Europe.

NPS 5.0 WILLING TO REFER
I’ve referred them to a few clients already.

Ongoing Dev Engagement for B2B Payment Solutions Firm

“I was in touch with their CEO from day one and not with an assigned account manager."
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Ebbe Groes, CEO, EveryMatrix

flag Austria London, United Kingdom

Jan 25, 2017

5.0

Quality: 5.0
Schedule: 5.0
Cost: 5.0
Willing to refer: 5.0
Project summary

Intellias joined an existing group of distributed offshore providers serving the same client. Assigned engineers built a payment integration solution for a flagship product and they continue improving it.

Feedback summary

While deadlines are missed occasionally, deliverables rarely require much retroactive revision. The direct involvement of Intellias executive leadership is also a noteworthy highlight.

Background

Introduce your business and what you do there. We develop B2B software with payment functionalities within the gambling space, namely online casinos and sports. We have around 70 clients worldwide and have been growing nicely over the last few years. I am the chief executive officer of the company.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Intellias? We have development offices in Romania, Armenia, China, and Vietnam. We were looking to expand our development capacity, making Intellias our 5th development office. We were at the outset of starting a large project that would involve at least 30 developers, but it ended up requiring 50. We were faced with recruitment issues in our main offices, so we started looking around. With all our other development locations, we have made the investment of establishing a local company, thus not using outsourcing per se. Intellias is the only instance where we used an outsourced development company that sits between us and the developers. It was a departure from our normal practice. The reason for doing it was because of the size of the project — we felt that we needed to have a reasonable assurance of staffing up quickly.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement? We have built an application for payment integration using Intellias. That is an area with strict requirements since the product will undergo an audit for obtaining a payment provider license. We started architecting the solution and applied for a payment service provider license (PSP) in Malta, one of the preferred European issuers. In order to do this, we needed to obtain what is known as PCI 1, a high level of security. We hired a dedicated security specialist as part of our Intellias team. The specialist’s job was to review everything we were doing and present both architected documents and testing, allowing us to pass the audit later on. This is a bit unusual in software development, where the usual focus is on other things. We had very high standards that needed to be met.

We knew this area well already, given that the application we were building was replicating an existing lower-quality solution using a new team and higher requirements. Intellias represents 40% of the team we're using for the project, specifically with more than 60 developers. Our solution is web frontend, but most of our work with Intellias was server-side. It involved many senior developers experienced with .NET, and Java. The transactions handled by the software involve many server integrations, storage, and security. Most of the frontend developers in Intellias' office are working on the back-office interface for configuration, search, and administration, not a traditional end-user portal.

The interaction was key for us. We have set out to make Intellias' team a part of our own staff, so we weren't looking for the typical outsourcing model of handing over requirements and waiting for a result. We haven't used Intellias' project managers, but we have used them for hosting, recruitment and servicing. We have taken control of the projects and the staff to a large degree. We have been active within the organization; I have traveled regularly to Intellias' location and so have our members from job and division management. After a 2-year collaboration, things have become quite smooth. For all intents and purposes, we see Intellias as just another office in our matrix. They do play an important role, but it's limited in certain ways.

How did you come to work with Intellias? I had an employee who had worked with Intellias and recommended the company. I was looking at other places, mostly in Kiev, but since he'd had a good experience, we decided to include Intellias in the interview process. We also talked with 3 other companies. We made some job descriptions and asked for sample CVs for the first team from each candidate company. Intellias came out strong in this regard. Overall, they have not disappointed us since then. The actual offering is never exactly as described, but we've been able to recruit talent from Intellias fairly well. It's been a stable relationship, with very few developers leaving our team since we've started. The price mattered, but another reason for choosing Intellias was their location. L'viv, Ukraine is a small city compared to Kiev, which offers more developers but also has more staff turnover. I've seen this in Bucharest, where we have our own company. The turnover is too great, even though we're active in our retention effort.

How much have you invested with Intellias? I don't know the exact number, but it's significant. We've increased our initial team of 5–6 people to 60 developers on Intellias' side. The cost for Intellias is the same as other major players in the Ukrainian market, split between the staff and the company overhead. I like this model because it makes it clear what Intellias' costs are, and, if the staff has a salary increase because of inflation, it will hit me one-to-one.

What is the status of this engagement? We have been working with Intellias since the spring of 2014. The initial staffing process was slow, with the work starting more seriously in November to December of that year. Our framework was built during 2015 and 2016. We're mostly done at the moment, with most projects being delivered.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement? We don't keep track of completion percentages or other tasks, largely because this has not been Intellias' role. We have taken the lead on all projects, so any mistakes in terms of architecture and scheduling have been our responsibility. Intellias gave us the clay to work with and it was up to us to use it. I am happy with the quality of developers; Intellias has a good team. There will, of course, be some misses when hiring 60 people, but, if 50 of those are kept, then we've done a good job. We are probably around that number.

How did Intellias perform from a project management standpoint? We have deadlines and they have been missed occasionally. In the beginning, delays were more unexpected, but our communication has been better, with ample warning coming from their side. This isn't exclusively the responsibility of Intellias because the project planning happens with our own staff. Intellias has no say and isn't informed about our project plans and milestones. If we did great, I wouldn't credit Intellias and I wouldn't discredit them if we did poorly.

We have used our project management tools of choice, which are the same ones used in Romania and China. Intellias adapted to them.

One particular thing I was looking for from the start was to have the team move out of Intellias' office. This happened when we reached 25 people. Our initial team was housed along with all other developers in a big office, which meant that the staff felt more connected to Intellias than to us. I wanted to change that and Intellias was flexible in accommodating us. In 2015, our team was moved to another office which Intellias set up for us. It was quite far away from our initial location. The office is in an area which we liked and has our logo on the door. For all intents and purposes, it's our own office even though Intellias is paying the rent and ensuring that everything works in terms of Internet and other facilities. It was a good solution for us, making our developers feel like a part of our company even if their employment contracts say Intellias.

Another goal was to convert the team's operation to our fully-owned payment setup. This was in our contract from day one. The longer we wait, the more profit Intellias makes, but the price paid for taking developers out of Intellias also decreases. It's a good setup which shows good flexibility and understanding of our needs. We've grown within the organization and gradually separated in terms of office, and, one year from now, in terms of the contract.

What did you find most impressive about Intellias? It was a great experience to speak to Intellias' management, given that I was in touch with their CEO from day one and not with an assigned account manager. We have become one of their largest clients, which Intellias realized from the start. Not that an account manager can't do great things, but having a direct line to their CEO really does help. There aren't usually many issues, but, when I need to, I can go to Intellias' CEO and get a fast and professional reaction.

Are there any areas Intellias could improve? It's been a pleasure working with Intellias and I have very little to say in terms of improvements.

Rating

Scheduling 5.0 ON TIME / DEADLINES
It hasn't been Intellias' job to hit deadlines, but they've been responsive to us.

Quality 5.0 SERVICE & DELIVERABLES

Cost 5.0 VALUE / WITHIN ESTIMATES
Ukraine is not very cheap compared to our other offices, but Intellias' markup is fair.

NPS 5.0 WILLING TO REFER

Data Exchange Platform for Consulting Company

“During my 2010 Java project with Intellias, they did a perfect job, supporting me with all architecture and design questions."
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Mark Hunt, IT, IFB.de

flag Germany Munich, Germany

Jan 16, 2017

5.0

Quality: 5.0
Schedule: 4.0
Cost: 5.0
Willing to refer: 5.0
Project summary

The project consisted of designing and developing a data exchange platform for ERP, CRM, and third-party systems, along with step-by-step migration of the data from MS SQL to the Azure cloud platform.

Feedback summary

The teams reached the testing phase — a good milestone according to the client. They have been content with the progress. Intellias cared about the company and did as much as possible to satisfy them. Their german language skills were cited as an area for improvement.

Background

Introduce your business and what you do there. We are a German work council education institute. We are a market leader offering a spectrum of seminars, from law-related topics to economics, and everything else that a work council could be in need of.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Intellias? We were modernizing our IT infrastructure and decided to have a hybrid Azure integration.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement? Intellias is working on creating a web API, serving the consumer endpoints we are providing such as our website or app. We have an ASP.NET Web API project and are using C# for the backend. The platform-as-a-service uses a SQL server using the Entity Framework. We are also creating OData controllers for more flexibility in terms of data querying and extending entities.

Our endpoints are the key features of the project. We currently have an old-school method for data transfer, using integration services that read from one database and store the information into another. We are analyzing the data transferred and implementing APIs for it. We thought that the translation process for transcribing our entities would take more time, but Intellias' developer quickly understood what we actually needed. I am very confident and satisfied with the process.

We are currently employing a single developer from Intellias, although I've used a team of 3 people for a past project. Our overall project is employing other external contractors, with a total team of 10.

We are employing an Agile methodology using a backlog and multiple iterations, which is used for all our projects. The development is somewhat chaotic at this time, but that is more our fault.

How did you come to work with Intellias? I first worked with Intellias in 2010, and have actually grown to be friends with their chief developer. Given that I had had a good experience, I thought it would be a good move to replicate it currently.

We had another company in competition, and we are also working with another service provider in Croatia. My experience with them, as well as the cost, made my choice for Intellias very easy.

How much have you invested with Intellias? We are currently in the scope of $50,000 for Intellias' services, for our full list of requirements. Some of the financial decisions are made by my bosses. Our company is quite dynamic, with many analysis processes. Things could change, but for the moment, the scope will remain constant.

What is the status of this engagement? We started working with Intellias in October 2016. We have an ongoing relationship with Intellias.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement? We are still in the development phase. After the analysis phase, we worked on a few proof-of-concept deliverables. We have gone through the implementation and are now in the test phase. The service provider taking care of our website will test the endpoints created by Intellias, looking at performance issues around our Azure setup. We will refine the missing details later on, but Intellias is helping us with the testing phase for the moment. That is a good milestone to reach, and we have done it in good time. Everyone has been content with the progress.

The next phase will revolve around the community side of the software. Once our customers are registered on the site, they can buy our seminars and books. Those transactions will need to be handled by us, which will be the next step. We have set a deadline of August 2017, and I think that we are progressing well.

How did Intellias perform from a project management standpoint? We have worked with a project manager from Intellias, but we have preferred working directly with our developer. We are setting up use cases for the endpoints, typically explaining our requirements and exchanging documentation over Skype. There is not much overhead with project management. We collaborate almost daily, but I was able to give our developer a set of to-dos while I was on vacation; everything worked fine. The only difficulty has come from the fact that we use German wording for everything. Translating things into English is often the most painful thing.

What did you find most impressive about Intellias? During my 2010 Java project with Intellias, they did a perfect job, supporting me with all architecture and design questions. We had a 3-person team which worked proactively. The current project may have seemed boring to Intellias by comparison, but I can't say anything negative about the company. Intellias cares about the company, doing as much as possible to satisfy us.

Are there any areas Intellias could improve? The only thing that could have been done differently was on our side. Intellias came into the project after our workflow had been set up. I can't say that Intellias did anything wrong, on the contrary.

If their target countries are Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, Intellias' team could improve its German. I speak fairly good English, but it could be a problem for my colleagues.

Rating

Scheduling 4.0 ON TIME / DEADLINES
The delays were on our side.

Quality 5.0 SERVICE & DELIVERABLES

Cost 5.0 VALUE / WITHIN ESTIMATES

NPS 5.0 If the person's English is good enough, I would definitely recommend Intellias. They are really good at what they're doing.

Customers Overview

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EveryMatrix is an award-winning B2B software provider working with high-profile iGaming industry partners. The company has offices across Europe and Asia, where it delivers market-leading solutions. EveryMatrix integrates its services into platforms of 4000+ audience, 25000 monthly events, and 100 payment options.

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Adswizz is one of the Belgium's most successful media start-ups, actively used by the publishers and media owners to monetize the inventory. The company serves ads into audio (web radio and music websites), video and iPhone applications. Its clients include Coca Cola and Dell.

Hubbub develops voice-based solutions to enhance online social communication and is positioned as a first 'sound social network', available as an iPhone application and a web service. Hubbub allows users to follow their friends' activities, when it's more convenient for them to listen than to browse the web.

Alphary is an educational technology startup. Its solutions combine the tech power of Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing to help learners improve English language skills. Alphary's services are Oxford University Press licensed for worldwide distribution and are used in the private education space.

SEP AG – A leading-edge innovator in network-wide and cross-platform data availability software. For more than 17 years, SEP has developed industry flagship technology for data security integrated into one of the most advanced solutions available.

FTS is a leading manufacturer of remote environmental monitoring systems. FTS stations are used by the top 50 government forest management agencies in every corner of the United States and Canada. The company's solutions apply to predicting, preventing and managing wildfires.

Eggs unimedia is a Germany's leading IT service provider with a status of Adobe Solution Partner. It has 25 years of experience in Adobe server solutions. The company provides digital data collection and complex eBusiness services, including Adobe LiveCycle, Marketing Cloud, and Experience Manager.

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