Rather longer in form than a typical Case Study (which tends to be confined to 1-2 pages), I shaped this review of the long standing and business-defining relationship between my client and a key customer in a way that enabled it to serve as standalone testimony to the company’s levels of engagement, input and client service. Extended case study for specialist proptech developer Gigabyte Software.
Today, Warwick Estates is one of the UK’s largest and most successful managers of residential apartment blocks, with more than 1700 sites comprising 47,000 units under management.
When the then fledgling company was introduced to Gigabyte Software back in 2007, however, its Founder was looking for a partner capable of developing a custom software solution capable of managing all of his organisation’s back office functions, while at the same time creating a user experience that could form the centrepiece of a sector-transforming focus on customer service.
Over the intervening years, Gigabyte has worked continuously with Warwick, refining, evolving and supporting the system to provide the business and its customers with a genuinely best in class environment for the management of their operations and properties.
In the majority of commercial software developments, the challenge posed to developer by client is a specific one – to develop a solution capable of facilitating certain specified actions within the operation of the business.
From the earliest days of our engagement with Warwick, however, it was clear that the challenge facing us was not simply to develop a system capable of fulfilling a specific – albeit organisation-wide – ERP role in their company.
Warwick were seeking was to build their business around a strong customer service model, establishing a distinct position for themselves in a sector driven at that time by lowest-cost service provision.
Although the challenge to Gigabyte was of course not set out to us at the time in this way, we quickly recognised that a successful solution would not be one which merely delivered comprehensive and efficient ERP.
It would be one which could come to form the backbone of Warwick’s service, and so the foundation for its sales and marketing and, with that, the value created in the business itself.
The solution would provide the client with the competitive advantage on which the business could prosper.
In more prosaic terms, the bare bones of the challenge derived from the reality that residential block management is a competitive sector operated on comparatively low margins.
Because of this, inefficiencies in back-office processes eat rapidly into the profitability of Management companies.
As a result, end-user journey and experience were generally low on the list for consideration, with user dissatisfaction accepted as an inevitability by Landlords and Block managers alike.
Warwick asked Gigabyte for a solution which, through automation, would improve the end-user service experience, while optimising back-office efficiencies.
From an operations point of view, the solution would need to encompass all key areas of Warwick’s operation:
- Customer Support
- Client Finance
- Credit Control
- Supplier Management
- Risk Management
To achieve an industry-leading end-user experience, the tenant-facing implementation would need to integrate with all back-office processes so as to provide tenants with real-time information.
To define a system capable of serving Warwick’s requirement from back-office through to tenant (end-user) experience called for a thorough immersion in the company’s business in order to acquire a comprehensive understanding of the baseline, and to enable us to begin to identify opportunities and possibilities which might elevate a solution from the level of meeting the specifics of our brief to that of enabling true transformation.
To attain knowledge of the business domain at this depth, we adopted the ‘Domain Driven Design’ (DDD) development model. DDD holds at its core the idea that a solution should reflect the structure and language of the business in question.
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