Delivering complex IT projects is difficult enough at the best of times, but it is especially challenging when your organisation is also struggling with the impact of a global pandemic as well as disruptions to trade caused by Brexit and other geopolitical factors. For companies without large teams of in-house IT experts, it is nigh on impossible. The key to success in this case is to find a trusted external partner to deliver the project.
BoatyardX is a Dublin-based technology company which works with clients across the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland to design, build and deliver leading edge software solutions which help them to achieve key business goals and objectives.
John O’Shea, head of business development with BoatyardX, understands this need, having seen a pronounced shift in attitudes towards IT partnering and outsourcing of late. O’Shea sees the issue from both sides.
“I’ve managed a number of start-ups and technology departments in large companies. The idea of partnering didn’t enter our minds. We thought that technology was so fundamental to the business that we had to build everything ourselves and develop the skillsets to do it internally,” he says, adding, “That assumption just doesn’t apply anymore.”
The use of external specialists is part and parcel of modern business. “If you look at what is involved in building a company or a new product or service for a company, there are so many things you have to take into account,” O’Shea explains.
“Sales, marketing, finance, accounting, production, HR – all these things and more have to be considered. Technology has to be seen as an enabler for the business. It’s the same as if you are selling cars. You don’t build the showrooms yourself: You go to an architect and a building contractor to do that,” he points out.
Working with an external partner also makes sense from a risk point of view. “When you are developing for the cloud you have to move at real pace,” he says. “If you are doing it internally you have to rely on your team being up to date with leading edge technology. You also need to have good commercial knowledge of the cloud to ensure you are not overpaying for service. It is a huge risk for a company to invest heavily in building their own expertise when they could partner with external providers instead.”
It’s a question of companies playing to their strengths, O’Shea adds. “If your core business is IT or software products you need to have the expertise in-house,” he says. “But if your secret sauce is a unique relationship with customers or a particular service like online retail, technology is just an enabler. You don’t need all that expertise to build and manage IT solutions in-house. And you can never guarantee that these things will be best in class.”
External partners can offer that guarantee along with delivering excellent value for money. “It’s about buying the commodity and building the differentiation,” O’Shea points out. “We don’t build everything for our clients. If there is good open source software available for a particular aspect of the project, we will use that.
We bring the experience and skillsets required to deliver complex projects
The BoatyardX approach is to work so closely with clients that they share the same goals and objectives. “We take an integrated team approach. When we assign people to a project, they take on the goals of the company as if they were ours. Also, we don’t price individual tasks within a project,” he says.
“We bring the experience and skillsets required to deliver complex projects,” says O’Shea. “By working with us our clients don’t have to learn through their own mistakes. Our clients can rely on us to be fully committed to their goals and to ensure the project is right first time. We know what does and doesn’t work and we make sure our customers get the work done at substantially less cost than building their own expertise in house.
“Our clients have access to the capacity required and the full attention of people aligned to their needs at all times. For us, partnership means integrated teams, alignment, capacity, flexibility and better value for money. We can put in extra people and expertise when and where they are needed and reduce capacity when necessary; it works both ways.”
Partnering for success: Global Solutions Team
One company to benefit from that integrated team approach is Toronto-based loyalty programme content specialist Global Solutions Team (GST). “Working with BoatyardX is the smartest business decision we have ever made,” says CEO Jonathan Carroll.
“GST was created to fill a gap in the marketplace,” Carroll adds. “We deliver content and bring better utility to loyalty programmes. For example, we have done a deal with Ticketmaster to allow people use their loyalty points from different programmes to buy tickets for events and earn loyalty points when they purchase tickets in the normal way with their credit card.”
We have been working with BoatyardX for just over a year and the quality of their work has been beyond our expectations
That is a highly complex undertaking requiring different systems to interface seamlessly with each other. “It is not an easy environment to understand,” says Carroll. “We had three options: we could build it here in Canada, go to India where we had gone before for other projects, or go to Europe. We chose BoatyardX because of their commitment, depth of knowledge and approach as well as the excellence of their leadership. They really took the time and energy to understand what we are doing in the global marketplace.”
The relationship between the two companies has become very close. “We have been working with BoatyardX for just over a year and the quality of their work has been beyond our expectations. The way they work they almost become part of your business. They constantly look for feedback. I asked our head of user experience and our CTO to rate the relationship with BoatyardX on a scale of one to 10. They both gave it 10 out of 10. That’s a remarkable score from two very different individuals.”
The BoatyardX approach has been critically important to that relationship, according to Carroll. “They don’t follow the rules of other software designers. They entrench themselves into the business to get an understanding of the journey you are on and where you want to go. I have never seen a better company at execution. They have built two technology platforms which were very hard to do and they nailed both of them. Watch these guys, they are going places with their business.”
Value for money is also important. “When we built technology in India the pricing was very aggressive, but the problem was that the project would be only 50 or 60 per cent complete at the end of the contract. It would then become a piecemeal situation where it went outside budget. With BoatyardX, they always deliver the specs you are looking for within budget.”
Carroll says he wouldn’t hesitate using BoatyardX again and recommending the company globally. “They are really top notch. We are going to increase the amount of business we do with them. It’s been so great to work with such a professional bunch of guys. And this is coming from the guy that signs the cheques for them every month.”
BoatyardX has introduced a new service for organisations large and small seeking technology solutions to current challenges. WorkshopX is an intensive two-hour workshop where BoatyardX’s experts engage with an organisation to define the problem and identify the business process to be transformed, the technology to be modernised or the software product to be developed.
“Within 24 hours of the workshop ending we come back to the organisation with an outline for a solution to the issue as well as options for how it can be designed and built,” says MD Brian Barter. “This is a free service which we are offering to companies which are facing technology challenges but do not have the resources internally to address them.”