Improving efficiencies and service delivery in Government departments is a priority in South Africa and it thus comes as excellent news that the Western Cape Government’s Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) has reduced its average licence turnaround time from 145 to 45 days. At the same time, the Department has improved compliance with mandated deadlines for supplier payments and also empowered staff and clients with visible, predictable processing.
This is all due to its rollout of OpenText enterprise information management (EIM) software with Datacentrix. The DTPW, one of 13 departments in the Western Cape Government, builds and maintains roads and buildings and works to ensure safe, efficient transport. The department opted to implement a pilot EIM project in 2005, starting with document management and digitising documents.
“Since then, the entire Western Cape Government has latched onto this solution and I’ve seen the benefits based on how it has positively affected the work in our department,” says Yasir Ahmed, chief director for transport regulation at the Department of Transport and Public Works.
The DTPW manages large projects and serves a diverse community, granting licences to all public transport operators, from taxi drivers through to touring coach operators. “These are often small businesses,” explains Ahmed. “If they don’t have operating licences, their vehicles could be impounded. They are dependent on my department to process applications within 60 days.”
Historically, paper-based processing at the department was inefficient and costly, with the average turnaround for licences stretching close to 145 days. “Applicants would submit paperwork and the documents would be misplaced or lost,” he adds.
In addition, the department did not have a precise way of measuring the turnaround time for individual applications. “We received numerous complaints from clients saying that applications were in the system for up to a year – so that was a challenge for us. As a government department, we needed to ensure that we listened to our clients and provided a service they would be happy with.”
As operators waited for licences, paper-based processing hold-ups also meant suppliers waited for payments. “Suppliers really struggled,” says Ahmed. “They are completely dependent on the cash flow.”
“We have around 30 000 users that would have to be served by the system. The EIM system that was put forward provided the scalability we needed for the volume of documents, data, even media that would need to be managed. Auditability is also very important. In my department, I needed to ensure that the system we procured would allow me, as a senior manager, to check documents and know how long an application, for instance, has been in the system,” highlights Ahmed.
To encourage widespread adoption, the Department engaged Datacentrix, a provider of high performing and secure ICT solutions and the only OpenText Platinum Partner in southern Africa, to implement a multi-faceted change management programme.
Since the introduction of its new system, the Department has not misplaced a single file. Applicants deliver paperwork, including identification, tax documents and other supporting material, which is then digitised, scanned and uploaded to the EIM system. “In just that first step, we achieved significant time savings,” says Ahmed says. Replacement copies are unnecessary, reducing filing work for both clients and staff.
The department further improved communication with clients through document-centric workflows in the new system. When an application is received, an automatic SMS or e-mail is sent to the client and each step of the process is communicated with similar updates improving overall service delivery within the department.
Not only does reliable processing establish order and predictability, it also fosters relationships of trust between department personnel and clients. “Every applicant who walks through our doors now understands that they will be treated equally. Their documents will not go missing,” Ahmed says.
“Our staff members can now answer questions more effectively and they are more confident in dealing with clients,” he states. The result: less complaints and improved service delivery. “We have less of a need to respond to client complaints, which allows our management team to focus on further improving service delivery to our clients.”
As the department extends the EIM solution to other areas within the institution, additional process efficiencies are gained. For example, invoices are now handled within the system using a supplier invoice tracking application.
“We’ve managed to improve the turnaround time, in terms of paying our suppliers, within 20 to 30 days. That’s been a big achievement,” Ahmed notes. “At the national level, our president instructed government must pay suppliers within 30 days, and I’m glad to say that our department complies.”
Since rolling out the new system, the department has received a number of accolades. It has received an award from Productivity South Africa for improved turnaround times in the management of operating license applications and it was also honoured with the prestigious 2015 Enterprise Champion Award from OpenText. The global OpenText title took note of the department’s colossal strides in optimising its operations and transforming to a digital environment – and recognised Datacentrix for its role in the technical deployment and change leadership.
Datacentrix managing director: coastal region and EIM, Juane Peacock, notes that the international recognition is a perfect reward for the teams that worked tirelessly to move forward with the department’s EIM programme.
“It reflects the strong vision, close partnership, and quality technology that came together – transforming the department into an efficient, digital entity,” he says, adding that improving service delivery in the public sector is particularly rewarding for Datacentrix. “We’re passionate about using technology to improve the lives of all South Africans. Being involved in partnerships like this one brings us closer to that vision.”
The awards follow other similar successes over the past couple of years: in 2015, the Western Cape Government’s Egsaan Samaai, won the local OpenText “Think Big” Award, and in 2014, the Western Cape Government’s Jan du Plessis won OpenText’s “Enterprise Champion Award”, while Datacentrix took home the “Fast Growth Markets Partner of the Year Award”.