MINING AFRICA’S POTENTIAL - JSE MAGAZINE

MINING AFRICA’S POTENTIAL

As the business landscape changes and evolves, SYSPRO is at the forefront of software development

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for today’s businesses,’ says SYSPRO’s marketing director Meryl Malcomess. ‘Across all sectors, businesses are becoming more organic rather than rigidly structured and technology solutions have to enable that.’

With 35 years’ experience, leading independent business software developer, SYSPRO, has mastered the art of understanding each business’ individual needs. From humble beginnings in Johannesburg in 1978, SYSPRO now operates on six different continents in over 63 countries and across more than 15 verticals. It is a global leader in providing enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

In Africa alone, SYSPRO software manages over a trillion rand’s worth of inventory, with over 35 000 people on the continent turning on its software each day. SYSPRO’s simplified, easy-to-use interface provides a smooth flow of information through a single dashboard, offering clients complete control over their business operations at all times.

‘We pride ourselves on being able to match the way business is evolving. It has become abundantly clear that over-complex and rigid IT solutions can exert a painful and stifling grip on a business’ ability to change. We understand that every industry and business is completely unique and requires custom, easy-to-use business technology solutions that provide flexibility and clarity. This is especially true in the mining sector,’ says Malcomess.

The right fit
The mining industry is one of SYSPRO’s strongest verticals and the company’s solution for the sector is specially designed to enhance production efficiency, optimise cost management and improve customer relations. The key features of the solution include:

  • Easy integration with maintenance management systems
  • Full traceability through all transactions
  • Planning and control tools for capex expenditure and asset depreciation
  • Compliance with local and international environmental and safety regulations.

‘As an African company, we understand that the continent has its own way and that service providers need to understand the culture and strive to fit into it. It’s my deep-seated belief that SYSPRO puts the right team together for that cultural fit,’ says Malcomess.

Mopani copper mine in Zambia is one of SYSPRO’s great success stories. Mopani is a subsidiary of FTSE 100 company Glencore and in 2011 it selected SYSPRO as its preferred solution provider, with iPlan as the implementation partner.

The project saw a custom solution being designed to control all transactions across more than 100 business processes spanning finance, supply and production. All workflow was seamlessly integrated into the core ERP functionality of SYSPRO and Microsoft Outlook.

SYSPRO software is now responsible for enabling the production of over 200 000 tons of copper at the mine each year. The system also handles the execution of over 5 000 transactions per day through the requisitions process.

For smaller mining environments SYSPRO provides a lower total cost of ownership solution. Not just from a dollar perspective, but also from the support side. Once implemented, SYSPRO essentially runs by itself, allowing IT skills to be redeployed on value-add projects rather than having to support and maintain the ERP system. End users love working on SYSPRO because of its simplicity and ease of use.

SYSPRO

Sustainable implementation
Explaining the Mopani implementation, Malcomess says: ‘We moved our team up there so they could become part of the whole system. At the request of Mopani’s chief executive, we empowered the local suppliers by fitting our technology into local internet cafés and implementing training to give everyone an equal opportunity to quote for the business. This created a highly sophisticated ecosystem and allowed Mopani to rely more heavily on local suppliers.’

Mopani was the first mining company and possibly the only company in Zambia to implement such an initiative for vendors. The project team trained more than 700 users on the new workflow and ERP system.

‘This was the first time in SYSPRO’s history that a client undertook such an extensive exercise for sensitive external system users. It goes to show the level of commitment to ensuring that the end users benefit significantly from the system,’ says Malcomess.

‘This has gone a long way to create more opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses with limited capital to invest in information technology. It is our goal to consistently reduce the cost of ownership of technology. Through the rise of technology ownership in the simple supply chain, we believe people can be empowered. To us, Africa means only opportunity.’

Other mining companies using SYSPRO software include Debswana Diamonds, Botswana Ash, Msobo Coal Mines, Shanduka Coal, Nantou Mining, Rosh Pinah Zinc and Shanta Gold.

Evolution in motion
The company recently unveiled its upcoming software release, SYSPRO 7.

‘With over 500 million smartphones in use, amazing things are happening in the mobile app space, and SYSPRO 7 leverages this potential. SYSPRO 7 places all the information you need to run a business at your fingertips. It understands and matches the way you work,’ says Malcomess.

Founder and CEO of SYSPRO Phil Duff says the company has been working toward SYSPRO 7 for almost a decade.

‘Ten years ago we foresaw the need for our clients to deal with much higher volumes of data while simultaneously shifting toward increased mobility.’

According to Duff, in SYSPRO 7 the user experience has been overhauled and simplified. ‘We really focused on improving the functionality that will drive businesses. SYSPRO 7 can now handle literally billions of transactions – provided you have a big enough server.

‘We’ve also reduced the time it takes to pull a 7 311 page report from 68 to three minutes.’

The SYSPRO 7 release candidate programme has been running since May this year with over 130 customers. The new software is due for release in the first quarter of 2014.

‘We have worked extremely hard to ensure the upgrade process will be as painless as possible for our clients. Any existing customisations are guaranteed to continue working once you upgrade,’ says Duff, adding that SYSPRO 7 takes customisation to the next level. ‘There’s quite simply no part of the product that you can’t control.’

A shot of productivity
The mobile component of SYSPRO 7, dubbed SYSPRO Espresso, is aimed at the ever-growing number of smartphones and tablets being used by business professionals across the globe.

SYSPRO Espresso is platform agnostic and allows access to secure information on any device on the go. The same code base and logic drives the same features on both mobile and desktop – making it an exceptionally user-friendly platform. The ‘work offline’ functionality in SYSPRO Espresso, also ensures that a dropped WiFi signal will have no impact on a user’s productivity.

‘The application-building capabilities we’ve included in SYSPRO 7 and Espresso allow for the creation and enterprise-wide dissemination of complete applications within minutes,’ says Duff, adding that this allows for the significant acceleration of business processes.

‘The mining industry has to embrace mobile technology in order to remain on top of all operations from anywhere at all times. The right technology solution can accelerate business processes, improve operational efficiency and help mining companies adapt to the type of rapid change that is inevitable in the sector. We believe SYSPRO is exactly that solution,’ says Duff.

Looking at the numbers
SYSPRO software is currently used by more than 16 000 companies across the globe, including:

  • SABMiller, which brews and distributes 22 million hectolitres of beer each year in 14 countries on the continent
  • Brookside Dairies, which makes 192 million litres of pasteurised milk in East Africa
  • Umfolozi Sugar, which produces and transports 1.2 million tons of cane sugar each year within the country
  • IN2FOOD, which manages 250 product lines to Woolworths
  • Botswana Railways Botswana Telecoms
  • The Core Group, which distributes hundreds of thousands of iPads, iPods and iPhones in SA through the iStore
  • The South African Legal Aid Board
  • Coricraft, which makes 3 000 deliveries a month from its 32 showrooms and seven warehouses.
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