What is our primary use case?
What we do is provide client management systems assistance to HUD-approved, non-profit housing counseling agencies across the country. The use case for Zudy is that we have HUD-approved, non-profit housing counseling agencies that have to report the work that they do, to HUD, in specific formats. In other words, the services that an individual in a community comes to a HUD-approved, housing counseling agency for, are reported out to HUD on a quarterly basis. That's [includes] everything from someone who needs assistance with purchasing a home, to rental services, to seeking shelter, mortgage modification, or homelessness assistance. All of that information is captured, per certain guidelines, and reported out to HUD. HUD takes that information and reports that to Congress on a regular basis. In return, Congress allocates funding to these HUD-approved agencies based on the information that they received from our client management system, mPact Pro.
Our system is hosted on the cloud and supported on the backend with Zudy through Amazon Web Services.
How has it helped my organization?
We're in a digital age now, so we're just taking advantage of that more frequently now, with respect to how information is captured. We have been able to take a lot of organizations that were using paper, to being paperless. We're just leveraging all of the abilities that we have found to be easier to do inside of Zudy.
An example of a custom application we have developed with the solution are dashboards that we are working on where certain KPIs are going to be displayed, disseminated, and captured by the end-user at the touch of a button. When it comes to being able to report out the impact or the work that's being done, it's easier now for the end-user to get the information that they need, disseminate that information, and deliver that information to those that need it. If we didn't have Zudy, this development would have been doable, but it was easier [with Zudy]. It was easier to lay out the designing and planning because of their process.
The data integration features streamlined things. I saved hours and manpower in getting things done. What we've been able to deliver, on behalf of the end-user, non-profit housing counseling agencies, actually replaces a person. It allows that person to be able to focus on other things, in terms of automation. At the push of a button now, or by clicking on a certain feature, items that were on an outside platform are now automatically transferred in real time into our platform by just answering a question "yes" or "no."
The ease of use is an 8.5 or nine out of 10. It's "night and day" for our end-user, when we compare it with our old platform which was great, but clunky. Now, we have taken all the guesswork out of, "What am I supposed to do next?" You don't even have to ask a question. Where they had to follow instructions in the old platform, they basically click on the button that addresses the question that they have to ask to be able to perform a certain function in the system.
Zudy does a great job of continuing to improve features and communicate those feature improvements throughout. There has not been a week that has gone by where I have not read about, or gotten an email about, or not been able to get access to one of the improvements. It's not only through the normal communications, but also just the dialogue I've had back and forth with the account managers and the design team that had been working on projects for us. We started out with one product build, an application, and we've added two more, with two more to come. It's extremely important to continue to improve the product because of what our current environment [is]. The shoreline has changed in terms of how anybody, any organization, is going to be doing work. They're going to need to take advantage of technology and using less paper but getting more data, because that data is what is going to deliver the results that are going to be needed to be able to continue to do this work.
An example of an improvement that they've made to it recently is the ability to capture information of what, in the industry we call an "intake." A lot of organizations may still use paper, and I keep referring back to that, but now we've automated that process to the point where the end-user can deliver an access portal for the individual client to be able to get introduced to the agency, provide documentation, and for the aides to be able to follow up with the individual, based on information that they provided. That's now been streamlined. Before, this process may have taken days or weeks to get to the point of being able to deliver a solution to the clients that they serve. Now we can do it in a day.
Another example of how they've improved the process for us is in the key performance measures or reporting modules that we've requested to be built. The individual agencies can pull the reports and data at their level without having to request it through us.
Time to market definitely has [de]creased. For example, today we got off a call where we were going over some things that we needed to have delivered. By the time we wrapped up the call, they said, "We'll be able to deliver something to you. Because today we're approaching a holiday, on Monday we're going to be able to look at it, to be able to push it to market."
Zudy has increased development speed. What would take us months to be able to complete, we're getting done in a matter of weeks. I have a number of projects that we were working on that I thought that we'd [only] be able to get completed by next year. We've already completed them and we're still in the year 2020.
What is most valuable?
All of Zudy's features are valuable. In terms of the user interface, we have come upon solutions that make workflow easier with efficiencies in making things, from a process standpoint, easier for the agencies to utilize. We've taken all the guesswork out of the process for them.
In comparison to our previous platform, the speed of development of custom applications using Zudy is light years faster. We were able to deliver the first solution in less than three months. It would be a little bit less if you take out the unknowns, which I've found to be my best friend in terms of things occurring that we didn't know were happening. But even with that, it has been light years. By comparison, what took us a year-and-a-half to do on our previous platform, we did in three months with Zudy.
The low-code level of work that we can do on our own, once things are handed off to us, and the interaction that we've had throughout, with the account managers and the architectural design individuals—they have made a process that should be automated [a] friendly [process].
In terms of data migration and data connectors, they actually built a data transition table. I think it was through a platform called Magellan, that was customized for us to be able to take data out of the old platform, stage it into a staging area, and then move it into the new platform that was built on the Zudy VINYL platform. It was seamless from my standpoint, but I'm not the one who wrote the code or pushed the data in and out of the old platform into the new platform. But they made what was going to be what I called "Godzilla," in terms of it being a monumental monster of a project, easy, with the solution that they deliver.
What needs improvement?
Upload time of documents that needed to be uploaded was a request that we were having an issue with. That issue got resolved in [near] real time, within probably 30 minutes.
For how long have I used the solution?
We got introduced to Zudy in March of this year, or about eight months ago.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
It has been extremely stable; no issues whatsoever, thus far.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
Zudy's scalability is one of the things that sold me. We wanted to make sure that we could deliver a product that could grow as we grew, and as the industry grows, and as changes occured. We have no issues whatsoever.
We do have plans for increasing the usage in the future. We're working on an additional product in a project that we want to be able to roll out in the next couple of months. We're feeling really good about that.
We have over 100 organizations. Before we started with Zudy we had 65 and we're [at] 115 and counting right now. Because of what we've rolled out through Zudy, we have almost doubled in size.
How are customer service and technical support?
We've not had any issues with tech support. We've not had any challenges to go to tech support. But, as promised, if we did have issues, they would follow up.
We get communication with the design group that we've been working with, daily, to give us a heads-up if we may encounter a problem with the process. But no issues whatsoever, thus far.
A feature that we asked for was the ability to add a document upload feature and it was done in less than a day, actually within a couple of hours. Some reporting views needed to be changed. I gave that request verbally, via a phone call. While I was on the phone they asked me to refresh my screen and it was done.
There are two-and-a-half people that we are in constant communication with. And that's mainly because of additional features and additional projects that we keep adding to the process.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
Our previous platform had a development team and an agreement along with that. To make any changes or enhancements, we had to go through that process. So there is nothing to compare [Zudy] to. That was part of why we wanted to look at other options and, fortunately, we found Zudy.
How was the initial setup?
The setup of the initial [deployment] was extremely straightforward. Everything that they said they did, they actually exceeded.
Getting access to it, once we agreed and signed off on the dotted line, was within an hour. Then we started working on some training that we needed to do to get familiar with the platform. That was delivered that same day. We wanted to make sure on our end that we understood what we were getting ourselves into. As a team and staff we completed our training to get familiar with the Zudy platform. Within 48 or 72 hours we were done with what we needed and we started building out platforms and applications.
I can't say the developers had an issue with any development challenges.
My staff is small. There were three of us involved in the deployment. We're a team of three but we act like a team of 30 now, because of what we have access to.
What was our ROI?
Our return on investment has been huge. Once we switched from the old platform over to Zudy, we had an increase of organizations to now [have] over 115. That's about 55 organizations that came to us as a result of the platform switch. And in terms of demo requests, we used to get about one or two demo requests a month. Now we're getting about two to four demo requests a week.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
Pricing and licensing are on par with or better than what we were looking at and what we had. That was also one of the key factors for making the decision. We cut our costs in half by going over to the Zudy platform.
There are no additional costs in terms of their standard licensing fees, but we have asked for and signed up for support services. So [when there are] some questions that we can't answer until we get more and more knowledge about the system, we have a support structure there so that we can get questions asked and answered, or time to have things built or augmented.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We just did an internet search of some products that were on other platforms and what they came along with. What jumped out to us was we had the ability to own everything that we built, of course with the support and help from Zudy.
Without mentioning what those other platforms were, some of them are very prominent, that you hear about in the media every day. Although they were comparable, we found that we can do the same thing with the Zudy platform and the team, and they proved us right.
What other advice do I have?
My advice would be to do your research. Compare what development and the timeline looks like on the big players, the other platforms that are out there which are all great. And ask yourself if it's going to be comparable and can the Zudy platform actually speak to the same things that the big boys do.
We've gotten no complaints about the functionality, given that it's a “no code” solution. We've gotten great feedback about how our new system looks and how much less stress [there has been] during our current environment—meaning everything that is going on with the pandemic and organizations being forced to work remotely. The timing was good for us to have run across Zudy, to help deliver what we believe the rest of the industry and probably most industries are going to be going to: offering a paperless solution to deliver or conduct your job.
I wouldn't say it's the biggest lesson that I've learned from Zudy, but I really appreciate understanding known-unknowns and what the unknown-unknowns are. In other words: how we approach a problem now versus how we dealt with problems from the old platform. Now, if there's an issue, we know that there is a solution that can be delivered, in short order. In the past, it was hit and miss: We've got this problem; we don't know how long it's going to take to fix it. But we do know now that if we run into problems on this platform, there's a solution that's going to be delivered. In most cases, the end-user doesn't even know that it's an issue.
The user interface and user experience are greatly improved. I haven't really heard any complaints from our end-users, but they are loving what they're seeing.
I'm really pleased with all of the deliverables and the work so far. There's always room for improvement with any organization, but I like the communication. I like the follow up. I like the constant checking in with me, and the team, on if we're moving in the right direction or if we need to make pivots or changes. And the fact that I can send an email or pick up the phone or send a communication through Slack and get instant communication [means] there is no guesswork. I don't have a complaint. I'm satisfied with everything thus far.
I would rate Zudy at nine out of 10 because of the ease of use, the customer service, making me feel like I'm a partner who is valued, and appreciating the feedback that we receive from them.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?
Which version of this solution are you currently using?