Orchard Court Management

Agile development of a property management web application

Orchard Court Management

The brief

Orchard Court Management (OCM) approached OWA for help scoping and developing a property management system (PMS) to oversee all its property services, including building maintenance, communal cleaning, insurance, repairs and capital works.
As custodians of the Princes Court development, OCM recently brought all property services back in-house after a period of external management. This was motivated by the need to demonstrate better value and find a more efficient and intuitive way to track and report issues that would work for both residents and administrators. The system was envisaged as an information sharing repository for residents and administrators – logging, reporting and managing service incidents and schedules, routing services and contractors and listing approved suppliers, alongside a comprehensive document library.

OCM supplied OWA with a summary brief and asked us to propose a solution that would do all of these things within a given budget range and could potentially be used by other property management companies.

What we did

OWA recommended an agile approach, working in iterations to ensure maximum flexibility, so we could agree and deliver a minimum viable product (MVP) within the agreed costing ready for launch. This approach was vital as we needed to define the solution with OCM first.

We carried out detailed scoping to establish what users and administrators would be accessing the new system for – it quickly became clear that a custom web application would be the most suitable and cost effective way to go. We spoke with a sample of residents – primary users of the new system and many of whom are elderly – to identify functionality and user interfaces that would work for them. A very simple design was needed – laid out with accessibility best practice and WCAG 2.0 AA standard as a benchmark. The simplicity required for the design allowed us to prioritise budget and development resources.

We focused on creating a comprehensive set of wireframes to model important screens and carried out user testing to validate these – with rapid development ‘sprints’ and releases following each cycle of feedback. This iterative approach allowed us to test different approaches, incorporate user input and deliver a solution that was specifically purposed for its end users. Taking an agile approach reduced the amount of rework following user testing and overall meant that the project was delivered on time and within budget.

PMS login
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It's such a great programme that you have developed... It is a fantastic tool!
Hazel Browne, Property Manager, Orchard Court Management

About Orchard Court Management

Orchard Court Management is responsible for managing all property services at Princes Court – a purpose-built development of apartments, constructed in 2010. It does this for and on behalf of all its residents who pay a service charge to ensure building maintenance, communal cleaning, insurance, repairs and capital works are carried out efficiently and to a high standard. It recently brought property management back in house from an external provider as residents and administrators looked to improve levels of service, communications and accountability.

Our History with Orchard Court Management

OCM approached OWA in early 2019 with a view to exploring ways of facilitating the new direct management approach it was looking to implement. The PMS was seen as a key part of delivering this change – a vital step forward in empowering its residents and improving accountability. We worked closely with OCM directors, administrators and residents throughout 2019 to agree a project approach that matched OCM’s needs and design a solution that matched its objectives and budget.