Information Systems Integration, the MIS Capstone, tasked groups of students with developing a digital solution that both solves a business problem and adds value to an organization. The group with which I worked decided to build a platform designed to improve the overall off-campus housing environment as well as help university students be more informed/aware when making housing decisions – an issue with to which our team personally related and observed to have very real, negative impacts; it was apparent that the current system posed a business problem for institutions such as Temple University, and our group felt passionately that an effective solution existed. What we came up with is RateMyApartment, a place where students can share and review valuable insight regarding the critical housing factors of individual residences/property managers – RateMyApartment’s main site can be found here.
What I learned most during this project was the importance of being able to clearly measure and argue business value to a proposed project – a task that challenged our group the most. While we felt confident in the platform’s value-proposition, justifying an estimate of any measurable financial impact the solution might have was difficult. This is because the value that RateMyApartment offers to universities – an active effort to ensure student safety and an improvement to overall student satisfaction – is largely intangible and tricky to quantify. Eventually we were able to confidently assign a concrete business value to our project by thinking of the entire business problem, and the solutions to it, through a different lens than we had originally thought was most appropriate.
Instead of trying to argue the benefit in terms of cost savings or earned revenue, we learned to view the solution as a response to the negative impacts of current housing conditions on student satisfaction and retention. In our final proposal, we were able to center the narrative around this business problem and demonstrate our platform’s value on the basis of mitigating further student, and tuition, loss. By framing the argument in this manner, our team was able to assert the financial value that RateMyApartment offers the institutions it aims to serve.