On 12th July, finalists will present their initiatives at the Park Plaza Riverbank in London, competing across 23 categories and celebrating how technology can make our lives easier, more productive and more connected.
ORM will be there presenting the work they’ve done with Moat, one of South East England’s leading housing associations.
I had the pleasure of discussing the specifics of this initiative with Peter Paterson, ORM’s Executive Director (Clients and Commercial).
Bridging the Moat
Compared to asset managers or transport companies, Peter explained that housing associations form a relatively uncompetitive market. ‘They work alongside each other a lot. They share a lot of information.. Lots of organisations learn from each other which leads to common solutions being used across the sector.
‘Moat wanted to take that a step further – they wanted somebody from out of sector that could bring in some fresh thinking. They felt the bar could be raised in the housing sector.’
ORM did bring something different to the table, winning the contract through a pitch process. The job – to create a new portal and website.
When they won the work, ORM discovered that a lot of their communication is handled through the call centre and a lot of it is paper based.. ‘It was a very manual process. Moat wanted us to streamline that, make it more efficient and allow the call centre more time to deal with their more vulnerable tenants.’
Moat’s digital technologies were also quite disparate, with several different websites and a portal all constructed at different times. ORM’s mission was to ‘streamline the customer experience’ and consequently improve Moat’s commercial performance. ‘They wanted to be innovative and best in class in their sector, and wanted to bring in some efficiency, attract some new tenants and potentially homebuyers, and most importantly make it easier for tenants to do business with Moat.’
‘Moat were going to build a portal in the CMS, which was fine, the capability was there, but we felt that limited them for the future,’ said Peter. ‘We realised if you build a portal using different technology – we recommended Angular – integrate it through their back end systems into APIs, you’d have a much more future proof solution. We then helped upskill their dev team on how to work with Angular.
‘We did the digital strategy and the design and provided the technical consultancy and architecture across the whole solution. But when it came to doing the engineering work on the self service portal, we were able to help them and support them as they did the development work. So the project became much more collaborative than we had anticipated.’
Working so closely with the Moat team meant teaching them how to work in an Agile way. ‘During the design phase, we had a design team working in sprints on site so we could just go and grab stakeholders whenever we needed. We have technical consultants on site that regularly answer technical questions about software and architecture that was quite new to the client. So it became a very, very collaborative approach and they worked really well. They were a great client to work with.’
The teams held work-in-progress meetings on Tuesdays, then signed off any changes on Thursdays. And when it came to sprints, they reviewed their work every two weeks. One of the biggest successes of the project for Peter was the durability of the working practices that started in their collaboration. ‘Even though the project is now finished and we’ve stepped away, they’re still running that process, they’re still following Agile so there’s a massive value add which we didn’t foresee.’
Portal to a Better Business
When designing the new portal, ORM took inspiration from the sleekest UX in the business: ‘the consistency of experience across different devices like John Lewis, the simplicity of the interface with Netflix, the brand experience of Asos, and the personalisation of booking.com .’
In terms of KPIs, ORM were measuring ‘increasing portal registration, increasing the number of payments, increasing customer satisfaction, increasing clickthroughs and decreasing calls to the call centre.
Moat has seen impressive results with the portal, which Peter attributes to the strong working practices they developed throughout the initiative. ‘From a tech perspective, we learned not to be afraid. Even though the client had committed to a certain tech stack, we had the confidence to tell them when we felt it wasn’t quite right, then figure out together what was better for the business. In terms of efficiency, cost is everything in the not-for-profit sector. Helping them save a significant amount of money on this project by changing their thinking around technology, enabling them to do some of the dev work themselves was a big win for them.’
We’d like to wish ORM/Moat the very best of luck for the UK Digital Experience Awards.