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.