Success Story

Made-to-measure solutions off the peg – your desired solution in an agile project with VBW BAUEN UND WOHNEN

If you needed a new suit, you would usually go to a specialist shop to see if they have one on display that fits and is the right style. If the colour and cut are right, but the sleeves are a little too long, a short trip to an alteration service will remedy the problem. If it is impossible to find the right outfit, because it is a special occasion or the customer is unusually tall, for example, then made-to-measure tailoring is a good option.
IT&I Magazin Nr. 23 - "Maßanzug von der Stange – Im agilen Projekt zur Wunschlösung bei der VBW BAUEN UND WOHNEN"

The same principle has been applied in a customer project at VBW BAUEN UND WOHNEN GMBH (VBW Bochum for short) in the form of an agile project methodology. With 13,000 of its own apartments, and around 1,400 externally managed apartments, VBW Bochum is one of Bochum’s leading housing providers. The main objective was to replace the existing solution for connecting tradesmen with the easysquare craftsmen portal from PROMOS. Furthermore, VBW’s IT system needed to be enhanced with additional services such as a quality assessment solution and the CRM ticket system. The agile project methodology involved first providing the customer with a prototype, which was then tried out, a bit like a fitting when trying on a suit. The PROMOS developers then made individual adjustments, like the alteration service in our example. A fully operational solution was thus developed in just four months, by 1 January 2016, with 70 percent of the planned functional scope and already far exceeded the capabilities of the predecessor solution at this point. However, we will first take a closer look at the individual project milestones, from the first fitting right through to implementation of the impressive solution.  

Step 1: Testing the prototype as a basis for the project

In a first step, a prototype solution was implemented at VBW Bochum, which corresponded with the PROMOS best practice approach and was based on experience gained from other customer projects. This allowed the project participants at VBW Bochum to determine which capabilities the standard version of the PROMOS solution already delivered compared to the predecessor and which functions may have been missing or needed to be adjusted.  

Step 2: Determining the necessary adjustments

In a comprehensive series of workshops, targeted discussions were then held to determine the points in which the PROMOS best practice solution met the housing company’s needs, and where individual functions could be improved or enhanced. An atmosphere of open discussion in the workshops was helpful in developing new ideas and approaches. The resulting delta requirements produced a detailed objective, and implementation was laid out in an ambitious schedule.  

Step 3: Implementation, testing and training

Based on the defined objective, PROMOS set up a system within two months, with which VBW Bochum were able to run extensive tests and report the adjustments that needed to be made. Following prioritisation, a list of 38 points remained, which PROMOS adapted and implemented by the go-live date. In parallel to this, training courses for users were held including modern eLearning tutorials and training carried out by thought leaders.  

Step 4: Go-live and further support

VBW Bochum’s new system went live with all participating suppliers and the key maintenance processes on 1 January 2016. All other outstanding matters classed as medium or low priority were adapted step by step by mid-2016.

Figure 1: The individual steps of the agile project approach.

VBW Bochum thus achieved a tailor-made solution very quickly and in just a few steps. “PROMOS’ agile approach gave us maximum flexibility. We were able to contribute our own ideas and thus help to shape the product ourselves. In addition, the fact that we did not need to discuss each field beforehand allowed us to save a great deal of time. If you asked me now, I would definitely do it the same way again,” says Dietmar Kübler, head of IT and project manager for this project at VBW Bochum.  

The current version of the solution comprises the easysquare craftsmen portal, integrated order processing, the CRM ticket system, an insurance solution and easysquare quality assessment. The interaction between the individual solutions on the basis of easysquare workflow allows VBW Bochum to work in the system in a process-oriented manner, which was previously not possible. The release procedure was also updated and radically simplified thanks to the use of easysquare workflow. The holistic design of the new system accommodated the high quality standards of VBW Bochum very well.  

Due to the scope of the project and the resulting restructuring within the company, the challenge was primarily to support the employees throughout the change process. A key to this is a realistic evaluation from the project manager regarding which steps are practically feasible and which ideas are just theoretical visions.  

So what do the solutions look like in concrete terms, and what special adjustments were made for VBW Bochum? A selection of solution modules shows the specific features.

Informationstechnologie und Immobilien (IT&I) Ausgabe Nr. 37 / Mai 2024

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Craftsmen portal

Around 35 tradesmen are connected to VBW Bochum via the easysquare craftsmen portal. The company maintains a very close relationship with their tradesmen, so it is very important to them that they are happy with the solution. The special features of the solution implemented at VBW Bochum include the new chat function, which tradesmen can use to contact VBW Bochum from the portal. Another feature is that the solution allows flat-rate contracts with prime contractors to be mapped. Options for suppliers to schedule dates and for VBW to monitor scheduled dates were also enhanced. Dates scheduled between tradesmen and tenants are thus now documented precisely in the craftsmen portal, allowing VBW Bochum to complete orders on schedule and monitor any missed deadlines.  

CRM ticket system

The CRM ticket system can map all incoming tenant-related matters, regardless of whether they are reported in person, by e-mail, by phone or by post. For each request, processing is then triggered automatically in easysquare workflow. The ticket system is also used for the visitor process. The solution is specially tailored to the needs of VBW Bochum so that, unlike the standard version, a ticket is also created for each recorded request. This increases the possibilities for monitoring and evaluation.

CRM Ticketsystem im Einsatz bei der VBW Bochum
Figure 2: CRM ticket system used at VBW Bochum.

Insurance solution

The insurance solution is used to process insurance claims with VBW Bochum’s insurance broker. What is special about this collaboration is that the insurance company pays the commissioned tradesmen and suppliers directly in the event of a settlement. The solution is designed so that VBW Bochum can nevertheless retrieve the incurred costs from the portal and update them in its ERP system. A chat function has been installed here, too, allowing documented and process-oriented communication between brokers, the insurance company and VBW.  

Many of the new features resulting from the project are now also available to other customers to implement in existing solutions. For VBW Bochum, the individual adaptability of the solution was not the only important criterion when choosing a service provider. “PROMOS’ wide range of products allows us to enhance the solutions that we use at any time, without creating new interfaces or media discontinuities. The quality assessment solution even integrates on-site processors successfully with the easysquare mobile app,” stresses Kübler. The implementation of the digital record is already planned as part of further collaboration.  

To sum up, the benefits of the new project approach are increased flexibility, speed and openness. Right from the start, users have a very good overview of options available and can then make flexible decisions as to which functions they want to use and what needs to be adjusted. By using the existing standard version, which only needs to be customised in certain aspects, a significant amount of time can be saved. At the same time, the agile project approach leaves a lot of scope for your own ideas, which can be developed in close cooperation between PROMOS and the customer. In this way, an off-the-peg suit becomes an individual showpiece in next to no time.

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