What does Metal Toad do?
Welcome to Metal Toad!
So you’ve been hired at this cool tech company called Metal Toad, but what exactly do we do again? This feeling isn’t unique. A lot of people starting at our company have a tough time wrapping their heads around what we do, since we do a lot of things. At the most fundamental level, Metal Toad is a professional services firm. Like a law or architecture firm, companies pay us to do things to help them. Unlike a law firm, the work we do is in software engineering and the cloud.
One of the best ways to get to know what we sell is to look at what we’ve done in the past. Additionally clients and prospects often make purchasing decisions based on a vendor’s perceived experience in their industry. A vendor with more relevant experience is often seen as the “safe choice” and this can drive a sale more than cost or a good connection. With this in mind, it’s important to always be up-to-date with our latest client list, by industry:
There are two major categories of offerings, and clients may have a need for one or multiple offerings to solve their needs:
- Project Services
- Application Support
- Managed Services
This represents the bulk of the work that we do here at Metal Toad. At its core, this is writing software for hire on a project basis - meaning the work engagement has a beginning and an end. This work is produced by one or more of the dev teams. Once software is built, much like a physical building, it needs to be maintained over time. Applying security updates, emergency bug fixes or incremental feature requests are all examples of needs that make ongoing software support a valuable addition to our offering. The team that originally coded the project, is likely to perform the ongoing support and maintenance of that codebase.
Metal Toad offers User Experience (UX), prototypes, wireframes, and light design services through our creative department. When clients request services we don’t offer (e.g. branding, marketing strategy), we partner with other trusted firms that specialize in these areas. User Experience (UX) design is the process of designing digital products that align the needs and desires of the user with the business goals of the company. UX plays a vital role in both user acquisition and retention. UX can make the difference between a successful product and a failure because it focuses on delivering both a successful experience to the user and measurable ROI.
- Technical consulting
- Product Management, Project Management, UX, Programming & QA
- AWS Services: AWS SageMaker, AWS
- Content Management Systems (CMS): WordPress, Contentful (Amplience, Drupal)
- Back-end: Python, PHP, (.NET)
- Machine Learning: AWS SageMaker, AWS Rekognition
- Web Applications & Mobile Web Applications
We do not do:
- Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
Like a house, software needs to be maintained once it has been built. Metal Toad provides high-touch application support for clients like The Recording Academy, Savers, Western Union, and ABC Television.
Levels of Support
Ongoing maintenance and support packages include phone and email support from the Metal Toad team. Monthly reporting, security patches, bug fixes, minor enhancements, and revisions are the main focus. Client stakeholders are empowered to manage the priority of the ongoing maintenance issues to ensure highest priority items are being worked through our Kanban workflow. Once projects are completed they fall into one of four major categories:
When a project is completed and no support is provided, it will fall into a state of disrepair over a period of 6 months to a few years. In the mobile space this happens as the project falls behind new releases to the operating system and in the web, as security issues or bugs surface and are not addressed. This category of support (no support) is not recommended. Oftentimes clients need education regarding the risks they accept when they do not support or maintain their digital investment.
2. Baseline Maintenance
Baseline Maintenance refers to a simple contract designed to keep a software project from failing over time. This includes security patches for open source software or minor operating system updates. This does not include any tweaks to existing or new features, but is merely a “keep the lights on” effort.
3. B2B application
This level of ongoing support is designed for products that are actively used by a small group of users, but the software faces little or no outside use. Users expect bug fixes and minor feature development. Contracts in this category include Baseline Maintenance, plus additional feature development. This category of iteration contract is also required for major operating system updates (iOS, etc.). The development team and product owner that worked on the product can recommend the appropriate amount of monthly recurring hours based on code base complexity, needed refactoring, backlog size, and client appetite for iteration.
4. B2C Application
This level of ongoing support is designed for software that lives in a rapidly evolving ecosystem with many external/public users. Users expect rapid response to bugs, regular introduction of new features. The development team and product owner that worked on the product can recommend the appropriate amount of monthly recurring hours based on code base complexity, needed refactoring, backlog size, and client appetite for iteration.
It should be noted that projects can often spring from this type of engagement and it is important to decouple projects into their own SOW instead of trying to fit them into ongoing support purchases.
Once software is written, it needs to live somewhere. Metal Toad provides premier AWS managed services for clients like Sony Pictures Television, Savers, Western Union, DC Comics and the Golden Globes. This work is handled by the DevOps (aka Space Tiger) Team. The hosting and server-level support is paired with monitoring and 24/7 response from our dedicated DevOps. This team is skilled in planning, setup and maintenance of significantly complex hosting challenges.
- Cloud: Amazon (AWS) - our primary partner
- Cloud architecture
- Significant traffic
We do not do:
- No Azure
- No Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
- No IBM
- No self service. Our clients look to us to handle everything. If someone needs regular access and dashboards, we refer them to other services.
For all of our projects have the following roles (though sometimes they can be filled by partners):
PMO (Project management office)
- Product Managers/Product Owners
- Collaborates on client expectations and objectives.
- Documents final success criteria
- Manages scope and backlog prioritization once the project is underway.
- Project Managers
- Gets the right people in the room for project meetings
- Writes down what happens in meetings and actions to be taken (Action Requests)
- Follows up on agreed upon activities (ARs)
- Unblocks the rest of the production team
- Predicts the project timeline and budget.
- Communicates both internally and externally to ensure nothing is forgotten or missed - especially when things are not going according to plan.
User Experience (UX)
- User Experience Designers
- Creates appropriate level of fidelity documentation (wireframe, pixel perfect comps, etc) to support application building and set client expectations.
- Software Engineers
- Provides high level estimates for sales
- Decides right technical approach in collaboration with clients & Product
- Write quality code.
- Identifies refactoring improvements that can be made to the codebase.
- Perform security updates and fix bugs.
- Quality Assurance (QA)
- Ensures compliance with the acceptance criteria.
- Ensure high quality code releases to production.
- Cloud/DevOps Engineers
- Deploys code to the server.
- Manages hosting environment
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