OP Koti

OP Koti – a cloud-based real estate agency service built using modern software stack

OP’s digital real estate agency service OP Koti (“OP Home”) is being developed full-time by a crew of three full stack developers. Developer Teemu Kotiharju and two other developers are part of the multi-professional team in charge of the entire OP Koti business. “Our daily work and each development task are always connected to our high-level objectives of improving customer experience and advancing our team’s common goals,” Kotiharju summarises the gist of the job. Developers play a major and significant role in the team in producing customer value.

OP Koti supports customers in making big life decisions

OP Koti strives to satisfy directly customers’ contemporary needs and expectations relating to buying, selling and renting out flats and building management services. “Today, a large part of home buyers, sellers and renters expect to be able to do their business online and to decide themselves when, where and with which device to do so. OP Koti is a novel digital service and platform meeting this need,” summarises Product Owner Samuli Jakobsson.

“OP Koti encompasses data-driven design, and it is aimed at providing customers with as wide a variety of useful information as possible to support their buying, selling or renting of a flat,” Jakobsson explains. The service is also very user-friendly: customers are provided with data on a neighbourhood’s demographics, price level and travel times in an easily browsable form. In addition, visitors to the service can familiarise themselves more closely with flats prior to attending an actual showing of a flat: a virtual tour of the home offers a 360-degree peek at the flat for sale.

OP Koti is also useful to those who are only tentatively considering changing flats. The service’s price estimate calculator estimates precisely the price of the flat that the customer is potentially selling or buying. It shows the price in relation to, among others, realised deals on homes, the year of construction and the flat’s size and condition, basing these on an extensive database, and so helps the customer get started making the big life decision that demands thorough consideration.

How does the developer view OP Koti?

“The entire OP Koti, including test and production environments, is on AWS cloud. Therefore each developer can write code and make changes in the test and production environments. We have excellent tools at our disposal so that we can easily implement changes,” explains Kotiharju. “We use Jenkins to deploy updates. Real estate agency services is especially an area of OP’s business where we are quite free to choose ourselves the most suitable tools and working methods.”

“As far as the developing of this service is concerned, we are self-dependent and have been able to, for instance, adapt maintenance processes according to our specific needs. We could be thought of as a kind of an in-house start-up, as we are practically developing a service that’s entirely in our own hands,” elaborates Jakobsson.

The team’s systems developers are full stack experts, though some focus more on the backend and others on the frontend. “OP Koti frontend development is centred around the Vue.js UI library. I’ve noticed that experienced coders find it easy to learn, even if they weren’t previously familiar with it,” Kotiharju says. “In backend development, the team uses the Scala programming language and Play Framework. They make backend development easier, when so-called low-level programming is not needed.”

“To me, this has been a great learning experience. Although I’ve already worked in the field for over twenty years, I’ve accumulated a lot of valuable know-how with this project, got the chance to use the latest tools and libraries, and so been able to upgrade my competencies to meet today’s needs,” Kotiharju describes.

The infrastructure is presently developed by outside developers, but there is a common wish to welcome new team members, who can also master the development of cloud infrastructures. “Our goal is a team completely independent of outside contributors so that any daily work can be carried out entirely by our own team,” Kotiharju contemplates.

Multi-professional team produces continued customer value through OP Agile

OP Koti has been in production already since 2017. At that time, a new development team was put together at OP’s central cooperative to develop an entirely new OP Koti service to replace the old opkk.fi online service. Today, this service is used by about 200,000 monthly visitors. The team in charge of developing the OP Koti service is also responsible for the development of the entire business line and continuously seeks to anticipate and respond to industry challenges.

The team includes, in addition to the three developers, a data analyst, a designer, a product owner, a process owner, the chief of real estate agent services and experts of digital sales and social media. This multi-professional team applies the OP Agile method to development work: it works in two-week sprints, although from time to time changes may be deployed to production also during sprints. So, the service’s development goes very smoothly and visible customer value is being produced on a continuous basis.

“We rotate the role of Agile Master within the team, and I’ve worked in this role myself. The ownership of the role can be changed quite dynamically, and the role’s purpose is to facilitate both daily meetings and retrospectives that are held every two weeks. We continuously aim at improving cooperation within the team and increasing transparency,” Kotiharju concludes.