Andela, the global tech talent marketplace, has been working with Change Machine, a financial coaching organization, to help digitize their services by building out their online platform. In a recent interview with David Bautista, the Chief Product & Technology Officer, he discussed how Andela talent has been instrumental in developing the case management system, community forum, and learning management system. Bautista also spoke highly of Andela’s responsiveness, quality of candidates, and the speed at which they can turn around hires. In this article, we dive deeper into the success that Change Machine has experienced through its partnership with Andela.
We spoke with David Bautista, Chief Product and Technology Officer at Change Machine.
How does Change Machine help solve problems in the world?
David: We started as a financial coaching organization, coaching low and middle-income Americans on how to navigate their credit, debt, taxes, and financial goals. A few years ago, we decided that the best way to scale would be to put everything online. So, we built an online platform, which includes a community forum for financial coaching practitioners to ask each other questions and share best practices. There’s also a learning management system for people to use as training on how to become a financial coach, and a case management system. Currently, it’s an app on the Salesforce AppExchange that coaches can use to keep track of their cases, monitor growth, and report out.
We primarily serve other non-profits through B2B sales, selling either training services or the case management system to non-profits who offer financial coaching or who are looking to establish a financial coaching program.
What types of challenges are your Andela talent solving for?
The Andela talent team is working on several things, including the development of the case management system, which is now an app in the Salesforce AppExchange. They are building out the UI, tools, and calculations in the background, as well as integrations with other services such as Twilio for SMS and machine learning on IBM Watson. Additionally, they are working on the community forum and tools for engagement, learning methods, and the platforms mentioned earlier. Essentially, they are responsible for building out the technology behind all of these important parts.
What has been your experience working with Andela talent, or hiring additional talent through the portal?
My experience has been great. We’ve partnered with Andela since the development team in our organization was very young. The first person we got from Andela was excellent and provided a great experience, so we decided to keep going with Andela talent. At this point, we’ve had seven Andela talent over the years, and it’s been great. Two of them have been with us for more than two years, and we just hired two new ones using the portal.
The quality of the candidates is always good, and the responsiveness, especially with the portal, is impressive. The speed at which we can turn around the hire is one of the biggest factors for me. Additionally, the support from Andela in terms of HR and employer relations has been very helpful. For the longest time, we didn’t have a senior developer in the organization, and Andela was able to help us with that aspect, letting us know if the developers were satisfied with what they were working on and if there were things that they wanted. Overall, I really appreciate the partnership with Andela.
How is Change Machine managing its technical hiring? Is Andela your main source, or do you have other ways of hiring?
Andela is our main source of tech talent, although there have been a couple of times where we hired someone directly as a full employee for continuity purposes. We also have someone in-house managing the Andela talent. In the past, we’ve used traditional job boards to find candidates, but it has been challenging to find the right ones, especially in the tech industry where there are so many job postings for positions like full stack developers. There were a few times where we had to restart the hiring process two or three times because we couldn’t find the right fit. We did use a hiring organization for our senior development position because it was a leadership role and we wanted to ensure we found the right candidate. Currently, we have six developers, four of whom are Andela partners, and the majority of our tech hires come through Andela.
When does it make sense to work with Andela vs. hiring for full-time positions?
For me, it makes sense to work with Andela when we need contributors who are very collaborative and can execute on technology, build out the technology itself, and even help with the architecture. Basically, for developer hours. If we need to bring on more developers and build out a bigger development team, Andela is the way to go.
For other positions, like team management or setting a culture for development, or building up processes, we prefer to hire internally. So it really depends on the specific job requirements.
How has Andela helped improve your process?
Yeah, I think earlier on, especially when we didn’t have our internal tech lead, there were a couple of times where the Andela developers took initiative and helped really guide us. They organized the tech team and helped us launch our platform on the Salesforce AppExchange a couple of years ago. Rania, one of our Andela partners at the time, stepped up and built a timeline and mapped out development tasks between now and launch. At the time, we didn’t have any internal developers who were experienced with managing a tech team to launch, so Rania was able to do that on the tech side and ensure we launched on time with a fully functioning product.
Ever since then, Clinton, who’s been with us the longest of the Andela partners, and Stephen, the second longest, have been critical with some of our major architectural choices. Most of our internal talent is in product management, not software development. For example, when we had a chatbot beta that we got grant funding for, Stephen was the one who took charge of selecting the software – re and designing the architecture.
They’ve also been helpful in terms of their expertise with our product. Clinton, in particular, has been here since the product was launched and has a lot of knowledge about it. So, there have been many success stories with Andela engineers.
In terms of your personal success and ability to take a step back and have more time in your day, how have Andela engineers contributed to that?
Definitely, Andela’s contribution to getting products launched on time is crucial. In the past, when I was more involved as a Product Manager, I had to closely monitor the development process, such as checking beta features and code. However, as Andela engineers became more familiar with our platform and we began hiring people with Salesforce knowledge, I was able to take a step back from code monitoring and focus more on front-end testing. This has made our testing process much smoother, as we no longer have to report as many bugs. Andela’s execution in developing our roadmap has allowed us to save time on testing and avoid communication delays with the rest of the organization.
Has Andela helped you stay competitive in your industry?
Yeah, I think a lot of our draw comes from some of our tech-forward initiatives. For example, for an app on Salesforce, we have an integration that uses machine learning. We also have this data chatbot. Right now, we’re trying to build more into training and community engagement, which requires us to build a whole new portal and new features. So, the Andela team has been critical in pushing forward and building out those tools and resources.
What does success look like against Andela as a partner as a vendor, right? How do you measure that success with Andela?
To us, it’s just whether the features are getting released on time or within a certain amount of time. For the most part, that has been true. We had a launch, and the platform was launched on time, and then for the first few years, the grant-funded features came out on time. So, throughout history, the measurement of success is whether we were able to release the things we wanted to send out.
What parts of Andela do you find the most valuable?
I think obviously the talent that’s coming through Andela is definitely the most valuable. But then I think the two things I said, like having someone be able to keep their finger on the pulse of how our talent is doing, how they need support from us, especially during the times when we didn’t have a tech lead, that’s really great. And then the pipeline, just being able to turn around someone real quick. I think our previous hires took less than two weeks to get candidates and to turn around the hire. So just knowing that if we want to scale up, or if someone leaves and we want to replace them, that process is not going to take us like two to three months, I think, has been one of the most important parts of continuity for our team.
I think everything’s been great. Over the years, the support that the Andela engineers have provided to us has been critical to our success. The support that the Andela support team has provided helps to speed things along.
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