Even though real estate is a conservative industry, there are numerous opportunities for digitalization to advance.
Speedwell's Kybud app that Cegeka Romania developed was based on an Excel-based algorithm that Speedwell had created for over 15 years and worked. However, as the project progressed, they noticed that others were attempting to adapt and implement their version, which was not the plan because the output changed.
"We spent five years looking for a product that we could buy off-the-shelf, and we came to the conclusion that everybody was looking for the same thing, so there was no on-the-shelf or off-the-shelf solution, and that's why we got in touch with Cegeka actually to develop it ourselves", stated Didier Balcaen, CEO Speedwell.
Simply put, it's a digital tool for tracking and reporting project costs and revenues, as well as extracting the key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive your business, such as return on investment, return on equity, internal rate of return - and it doesn't have to be a real estate project.
What was Cegeka’s solution?
Cegeka Romania took over the application development process for Speedwell's in-house budgeting system, a critical component of their real estate development business's cost control. The final product is a web-based application built with Java and React that is hosted in the Cloud.
However, the problematic aspect is achieving the best possible balance between expenses, requirements, and time. As a result, the project was a success thanks to the Foundation phase, which we use to kick off all Agile implementations.
The Foundation phase is a proprietary methodology developed here at Cegeka. "Its goal is to investigate a customer's business needs, for which a software solution is key, and define how the solution should function before launching a project.
We consider it a key success factor for our projects. Through a series of workshops, brainstorming sessions, and exploratory meetings, Cegeka, and the customer can maintain direct and close contact during this phase. The result is an overview of the business drivers, as well as a high-level scope of the application, including functional and non-functional requirements, technological options, and, of course, a list of risks with associated mitigations, as well as a complete budget estimate", explained Andrei Pavel, Director of Engineering for Cegeka Romania.
Challenges and benefits
"When you develop an application with an external partner, not on real estate, it forces you to think about the application. During the development process itself, we started adding features. Now we have something that is full-proof, so the users cannot modify things themselves, and we extract objective data. The added value is that there is lots of data within the program, and we can easily modify the dashboard and extract it, present it in different ways", explained Didier.
One of the challenges was that we had to re-engineer the interaction between users and the application. "It usually happens that the customer wants business processes to be translated as-is into the app. That doesn't work. Digital transformation is about finding new ways of doing things that should be more efficient. Our job is to find the best way to implement activity and convince the customer that's the best approach for him", said Andrei Pavel, Director of Engineering at Cegeka Romania.
Speedwell was founded in 2015 by two men from Flanders who were passionate about Romania and real estate: property developer Didier Balcaen and architect Jan Demeyere.
They have their own funding, which they monitor from Belgium, but they develop their projects in Romania. Speedwell does this now for a total asset value of nearly one billion euros, of which 80% is allocated to residential real estate, 15% to offices, and 5% to a new light industrial branch.