JSE-listed IT services and solutions company Faritec, together with Accenture, have been awarded a R25-million contract to develop, supply and support a complete solution that includes IT, human resources, enterprise resource planning and communications.
The deal will form part of a long term strategic partnership that will see BEE company, Masana Petroleum Solutions, implement an independent IT, communications and call centre infrastructure.
Kholeka Mzondeki, financial director of Masana says, "Service excellence to customers is a key priority. We are dedicated to understanding our customers' businesses as a way of fully meeting their needs. Our IT environment therefore needs to reflect this, not only in our relationships but also in the products and services we offer, which is the base that will enable us to fulfil our vision."
She says the transaction represents a tremendous development opportunity for the black-owned petroleum company as it provides complete autonomy at an operational level and enables Masana to run their operations completely independently from founder company and shareholder, BP.
"With all back office accounting, HR and IT systems resting with BP, we took a management decision that as an empowered South African company, we need to determine our own needs independent of BP as a large multinational," says Kholeka. "In this commodity-based industry, in order to differentiate ourselves, we need systems that are mean, sleek, agile and responsive to the needs of our customers."
Peter Winn, executive director of services at Faritec, says the transaction involved the establishment of a completely new IT infrastructure, encompassing a full network and server environment, laptop computers for a mobile workforce, MS Office desktop applications, a turnkey business application to run distribution and financial systems, as well as a total outsource of all the business process associated with running Masana's Customer Service Centre - with built-in redundancy as uptime is absolutely critical.
"Faritec's share of the contract was to provide the IT infrastructure as well as the design, development and implementation of SAP Business 1 ERP application targeted at SMEs. Along with this, Faritec was awarded a five-year outsource contract to maintain, administer and improve the complete environment," says Winn. "Faritec's focus was to ensure that we met Masana's need, namely to build a highly efficient environment that meets the specific requirements of their business model."
Beginning in late 2006, Winn says Faritec established the network infrastructure including connectivity and communication links in Masana's Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban offices, meeting the requirements of a highly available environment.
"Servers were then rolled out using IBM Blade Technology, which is hosted at Faritec house with a disaster recovery solution designed and implemented as well as full maintenance," he says. "Laptops with wireless connectivity were also provided to allow Masana representatives to be fully mobile at all times."
Winn says that after a diligent process to establish Masana's business requirements, Faritec undertook a full business process modelling and re-engineering exercise to ensure that the necessary functionality requirements and business processes were supported by the selected SAP Business One application.
"Critical drivers included flexibility and efficiency of trading, and where any gaps existed between the standard application and Masana's requirements, the application was customised to meet their unique business needs," he says. "Once the application was modified and implemented, Faritec cut Masana over from BP into their own system in April 2007, with SAP Business One and the Customer Service Centre going live around mid-May."
In terms of the ongoing five-year outsource contract - which formed the bulk of the R25-million deal, Winn says this was carefully negotiated and contracted to give Masana the flexibility to review the scope of work and continually align the deliverables with their business requirements.
"We negotiated clearly defined Service Level Agreements and a flexible pricing structure that enables Masana to benefit from improvements in service delivery efficiency," he says. "At Faritec, we are running a call centre for IT support with full call logging, tracking, escalation and service delivery reporting. Faritec's IT Infrastructure Library - a service delivery methodology process for delivering service for the IT industry - guarantees a structured approach to delivery and ensures that processes and standards are followed from tracking to reporting."
Mzondeki says that as a highly complex project with several parties involved, Masana needed to undertake a series of change management exercises, including extensive retraining.
"This represented a tremendous opportunity for our people to get closely involved at all levels as we are a smaller organisation with a flat management structure," she says. "The success of this approach is evident as we successfully implemented the SAP solution in just six months."
Looking ahead, Mzondeki says Masana anticipates a long term value-added relationship with Faritec that reflects the nature of the strategic partnership entered into between the two companies.
"As a low margin business, Faritec understands our business and appreciates our needs," she says. "They will be helping us to drive costs down by providing value added services, and will be providing stability as the engine to our customer service centre, keeping our downtime to a minimum and cutting communication costs."
Given the considerable investment in the solution and services provided, Mzondeki says the company expects a return on investment within the next five years.
"We anticipate a payback not only in a direct monetary sense, but also in customer satisfaction," she says. "Both in terms of operational and accounts queries, the customer solutions centre must serve as a complete one-stop shop that elicits positive comments from customers and offers quick problem resolution."