How a Houston-Based Energy Consultant Keeps Costs Low with Custom Enterprise Software

As an energy consultant who assists companies in the procurement of electricity and natural gas, as well as the monitoring of their consumption and the management of overall costs, Annette Van Brunt, founder of Van Brunt & Associates, relies on custom enterprise software to manage data from multiple sources. This includes her customers, the suppliers who’ve bid to serve her customers, and her company’s channel partners.

Ms. Van Brunt had initially worked with a self-employed developer who left the project to pursue full-time employment, as well as an agency that hadn’t been able to meet her needs. “I’d say their benefit was that they helped me learn how to write user stories to spend less time testing because I’d already fully designed new features,” she explains. 

“But the developer I was working with was very stressed,” she continues. “He didn’t know the technology, so I was teaching him the software that we had. He didn’t really like having to do that, and it showed. They were great at teaching me how to be a better requirements developer, but they weren’t so good at implementation.”

Transitioning to Simpat

After being connected with Simpat, Ms. Van Brunt was matched with a developer who would be able to support both her existing software and her preferred workflows. “Once they understood what my needs were and what technology stack I was using, they assigned me to Raul.” 

Initially, Ms. Van Brunt had contracted 3-4 hours of work per day, but was quickly able to ramp up to 6-7 hours per day, thanks to a change in availability and Raul’s technical skill. 

She explains, “First of all, he is very much superior from a technology standpoint. There’s so much out there, from Bootstrap to Python, and there are all these little add-ons developers use. Either Raul knew it all, or he’s very good at adapting.”

Cost Savings Through Strong Partnerships & Efficient Operations

In Ms. Van Brunt’s case, having the right developer has led to a lot of cost savings. “I don’t have to test and retest,” she shares. “I don’t have to handhold. Raul understands the problem at hand pretty quickly and attacks it. With the other developer, I had to talk to him every day to keep him on task and to make sure he understood. Otherwise, he’d go off for several days, and it was in the wrong direction. I don’t have that issue with Raul.” 

“But secondly, you just get more efficient at getting it done,” she continues. “A task that other developers might take three, or four, or five days to do, he gets done in a day because he understands it. I will say, I’m better at writing up my requirements, so there’s a little bit of that. But when something isn’t performing as intended or something we didn’t think of comes up, he’s really great at jumping right in and fixing it. He doesn’t complain. He doesn’t get frustrated, and that aspect of it is invaluable.”

Creating and Defending a Competitive Advantage

Though Ms. Van Brunt’s software is up and running, she continues to work with Simpat to add new features and functionalities that create a compelling competitive advantage for her consultancy. She notes, “There were new features that I didn’t feel like my previous developers could develop which Raul has rolled out that I think have helped me win customers.”

Reflecting on her engagement with Simpat, Ms. Van Brunt appreciates the relationships she’s been able to build. “It’s definitely a partnership,” she describes. “I couldn’t provide all these features to my customers unless Raul knew how to develop them, but there wouldn’t be any features unless I designed them. But there are things that I can now try that aren’t out of the realm of possibility because he’s capable of doing them.

The result of these and other innovations is that Ms. Van Brunt has been able to run a lean, efficient operation that keeps her overhead low and her margins high. “My competitors who have the size of business that I have, have 10 times the number of people. It’s just me, and it’s because my portal keeps me from having to hire people. That’s the biggest benefit of all.” 

The bottom line? According to Ms. Van Brunt, “I would recommend Simpat to anybody.”

If you’re struggling with underperforming vendors who are standing in the way of your custom enterprise software development initiatives, reach out to Simpat for a free consultation. We’d love to show you the difference having a true partner can make on your business’s bottom line.

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