As part of the Botswana government’s strategic goal to diversify the country’s economy, Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) was founded to encourage innovative business. Through the development and operation of a science and technology park, BIH aims to assist the transformation of Botswana into a technology-driven and knowledge based economy through the promotion of an innovative and competitive culture. However, the lack of an automated infrastructure was impeding operational efficiencies and the smooth running of daily business.
“We were working only on excel,” says Tendani Holonga-Wotho, the BIH Director of Corporate Services. “In addition to its lack of automation, excel also brought with it time intensive processes and the propensity for human error,” continues Holonga-Wotho. And with excel running disparately on each individual’s laptop, version control and access to accurate information in real-time was near impossible.
“We urgently required the automation of our entire accounting function,” says Holonga-Wotho. Similarly, the need for a seamless purchasing function was critical. Existing entirely on paper, the tracking and resolving of supplier queries was proving problematic. BIH was also experiencing huge difficulty with customer relationship management. “We needed an automated and integrated system to empower future growth, seamlessly take care of key business and accounting functions, whilst saving us time and eliminating human error,” stresses Holonga-Wotho.
Whilst an initial review of Business Management Software (BMS) vendors failed to yield anything suitable, a demonstration of SAP Business One by 4most left BIH confident that it had found the right solution. “SAP Business One provides the functionality required to automate key accounting functions, including the entire purchasing process, whilst integrating it across other relevant modules,” says Quinn Verburgt, Branch Director, 4most Botswana. This rendered it a perfect fit for BIH, enabling it to meet today’s needs with ease of scalability allowing for seamless future growth. As important was access to local support. “With an investment this size, including our shift from a manual to automated environment, access to readily available support was key,” says Holonga-Wotho.
Implementation began towards the end of 2013, with initial priorities including a standard chart of accounts and automated purchasing process. “With no previous accounting system, it was slightly daunting,” says Esther Yane, IT Services Manager. However, working closely with the BIH IT department, 4most completed implementation within three to four months ensuring quick access to key functions. But it was not without its challenges. “All of our raw data was in excel,” says Holonga-Wotho. Consequently BIH embarked on a project to ensure the integrity of all data, guaranteeing correct opening balances. A bit of initial resistance was also encountered when it came to user uptake. “People naturally default to what they know,” says Holonga-Wotho. “But once training was complete, uptake across all relevant business functions and users quickly followed.”
“Everything is now in order,” says BIH’s Finance Manager, Banabotlhe Mbayi. “Running a journal inside SAP is easy and at the touch of a button, with real-time access to age analysis and 100% accurate figures. In addition version control is no longer a problem, with everyone enjoying real-time access to accurate information. SAP Business One also allows for the setting up of relevant banks in the SAP environment. “It’s seamless, providing enhanced efficiencies, with bank statements automatically reconciled in SAP Business One upon receipt,” continues Mbayi.
But the real beauty are the reports. “When I look for information, I get it,” adds Mbayi. “Not only what I need, but in full detail.” And with senior management now able to remotely access accurate information and reports, when needed, the enhanced operational efficiencies afforded by SAP Business One are being felt throughout the organisation.
An automated purchasing function, providing an iron-clad trail of all order and supplier detail and elimination of order duplications, are further benefits enjoyed by BIH. “Not only are we more efficient and in control of our business but savings, across time and as a result of increased cost efficiencies, has reaffirmed our initial confidence in SAP Business One.”
“We needed to take our business to the next level,” concludes Holonga-Wotho. “With SAP Business One, we’ve accomplished exactly that.”