Tech Related Business Services.
Better, faster and more effective systems for your business
Technology is integral to supporting and enhancing modern business, but business is critical to ensuring that we derive value from our technology. For this reason, Exponant has developed many technology related business solutions and our business skills are applied very strategically to ensure that the promise of technology is materialised.
Data science has been growing exponentially with the advent of faster processing time, quantum computing and very specifically cloud computing. This proliferation of data has many functions including:
Understanding what is going on in a business, for example data usage, leave time, sales growth. The benefit to using data science is that multiple datasets can be cross corelated to provide visualisation, this could include sales data, per geographical region by season. Better yet, we can use the data visualisation tools which are a function of most business and social software to visualise the data on dashboards and charts. Data insights can be used for planning and decision making.
If we have multiple datasets including behavioural data, we can layer them in such a way that we can predict with some accuracy what will happen in the future. There are some interesting case studies that show that future shopping patterns can be forecast based on current retail behaviour. When purchasing pattern data is collected with loyalty cards at the till (behavioural data), merchandising decisions can be made, because we know not only the demographic of and the region where the shopper buys but what they buy too.
- Knowledge Management and organisation
When an organisation needs to structure the information captured and generated, it will often turn to a Document and Records Management system to do so. A data architect can structure the metadata in such a way that it can be easy, stored and retrieved. This metadata can also be used to direct workflows such as approvals. It can provide extra functionality like version control.
- Connect and contextualise
Application Programming Interfaces like Microsoft’s Graph connects users, emails, calendars, tasks, and devices, and helps users find relevant, contextual data wherever it may be located within Microsoft 365. Users generate an enormous amount of data every day, and Microsoft Graph helps make the most of that data by allowing it to be shared among apps, rather than being siloed.
Documents and Records Management (DRMS)
Document and Records management processes and systems bring value to the organisation by helping to ensure accountability for the process of document creation, ensuring accountability for managing records that are needed to conduct the business of the organisation.
At Exponant we belief that the value of a DRMS can be exponentially enhanced by the deployment of a Data architect, a senior visionary who translate business requirements into technology requirements and defines data standards and principles. Our data architect works very closely with the Business Analyst to visualise and design our client organisation’s enterprise data management framework in order to ensure that it is process driven, fit for purpose and futureproof.
Document management involves the day-to-day capture, storage, modification and sharing of physical and/or digital files within an organisation.
Document management focuses on:
- Reducing lost and misfiled documents.
- Providing faster search and retrieval of documents.
- Helping to improve on the organisation of existing documents.
- Improving general work processes and organisational efficiency.
- Reducing the amount of physical space used to store documents.
Records management establishes policies and standards for maintaining diverse types of records. Some, but not all, documents within an organisation become records.
Records management includes the functions of document management plus:
- Identifying which records exist by records inventory;
- Applying required retention periods to stored items;
- Identifying the owner of each records series;
- Determining that a chain of custody and a proper audit trail both exist;
- Assisting in e-discovery issues and applying legal holds to records when needed;
- Managing disposal of documents;
- Applying the safety guards which prevent the contravention of certain pieces of legislation such as the Archive or POPI Acts or the deliberate unlawful dissemination of information
- Developing and administering defined records policy and procedures, regardless of if the records are electronic or paper.
- Preserving records throughout their life cycle.
The primary elements of Documents and records Management include:
- The System (functions, non-functional elements and technical configuration, testing and deployment);
- Security Mechanisms;
- Data Architectures;
- Legislative Compliance; and
- Adoption (training, change agents, communication).
Workflow and Robotic Process Automation
Good workflow management helps to eliminate chaos and attain organisational goals faster. When Exponant builds, automates and manages workflows effectively, our client understands the whole picture with each and every step clearly.
Workflow management systems to streamline workflows and make processes easier. This is why we automate workflow
- Reduced errors
Operating with zero errors is impossible. But being proactive in identifying and setting errors right is something to work on. With workflow management, it is easier to prevent errors from occurring in the first place. And if they happen, you can pinpoint the exact location. The same errors can be prevented from happening again.
- Improved connectivity
Workflow management connects multiple entities–people, software and work culture. Work that is well-connected enables increased productivity.
Integration between software systems is critical in IT infrastructure. Workflows draw data from different software tools and run workflows between them. Most tasks need employees to use more than one application. Workflows function as facilitators.
Data on how work happens is slowly pooled and then you can use the data to improve workflows, this prevents errors and builds stronger connections between people and software.
- Increased productivity
Since all workflows are automated, teams save a lot of time sending emails and updating information in multiple tools. Employees don’t need to wait for approvals to reach them. They can track the progress in the workflow system and stay in the loop.
Critical data missing in an approval? Employees can send it back to someone in the previous step of the workflow and even communicate contextually within the tool.
- Redundant manual tasks eliminated
With workflow systems, pre-defined business rules do the job. The workflow can be configured to trigger steps based on conditions to automatically delegate tasks.
- Increased trust, transparency, and control
Workflow greatly reduces micromanagement. The duties of each job role are clear with defined goals. Employees are informed on what they need to do, managers are comfortable delegating ownership over tasks.
Workflow automation squeezes out shadow tasks, everything happens out in the open, with more control over data accessibility than before. Admins can choose to display or hold back sensitive information to specific job roles or teams.
With many companies working remotely, there are enough emails and messages going around. Workflow helps keep work organised and trackable.
Workflow management has the potential to evolve into a company-wide practice.
Exponant has solid experience in documenting and automating processes which speeds up an organisation’s workflow whilst increasing accuracy and measurability.
Our process maps illustrate the flow of the work and the interaction with the organisation. We make use of common notation that is easily understood by everyone. Our process maps contain proper detail with respect to multiple paths, decisions and rework loops. But as we all know it is people who make the organisation work, so these processes match the organisational processes that employees are used to and when improvements are made, we can assist with the training and communication of that change.
We also perform workflow audits
Workflow audits should occur regularly (every 6 months at a minimum), but if you’re noticing any of the following, you should perform an audit immediately:
- Noticeable bottlenecks or delays on a daily or weekly basis
- Simple tasks like approvals overwhelm your team
- There have been significant changes to team roles in the last 6 months
- Processes and workflows have changed significantly in the last 6 months
- Goals and objectives are not being met on time or according to plan
It is becoming important not only to incorporate workflow planning and mapping into your daily routines, but also implement business process management (BPM) solutions into the organisation as a whole. BPM helps to keep the organisation moving in a clear direction. It can help set priorities for the organisation and plan out failures at a higher level.
Robotic Process Automation
Exponant now offers Robotic Process Automation to our clients.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the process of automating mundane tasks such as taking data from one file and entering it into a business application like CRM. It’s about automating repetitive tasks that are an inefficient use of people’s time.
RPA is an approach to working across multiple software applications and entering, maintaining, migrating, integrating, mining and testing data on spreadsheets. It’s the equivalent to an employee who never sleeps, eats or makes mistakes on tasks that need repeating over and over again.
It is the fastest-growing segment in the global enterprise software market, according to Gartner.
RPA provides improved accuracy for automated and repetitive tasks. Two-thirds of financial processes are now automated, in one shape or form. The remaining third is taken up by ad hoc or ‘human’ requests for information.
Exponant uses the Microsoft cloud to enhance the business use of information technology and the acceleration of POPIA compliance.
We align IT as a mechanism to support the controls, procedures identified to achieve POPIA compliance.
South Africa’s Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI Act or POPIA) sets a standard for the processing of South African’s personal information by public and private bodies within and outside of the country’s borders. Organisations doing business in South Africa need to ensure their information security practices are updated to meet POPI compliance.
The POPI Act sets in place regulations governing South Africa’s constitutional right to privacy, by safeguarding personal information when processed by a responsible part to balance the right to privacy against other rights, particularly the right of access to information; and protecting important interests, including the free flow of information within the Republic and across international borders.
It also aims to regulate the manner in which personal information may be processed, by establishing conditions, in harmony with international standards, that prescribe the minimum threshold requirements for the lawful processing of personal information.
The purpose of the POPI Act is to lead to:
- Enhanced personal privacy rights;
- Increased duty for protecting data;
- Mandatory breach reporting; and
- Penalties for non-compliance.
Protecting personal data in your care
With penalties for data privacy violations growing in South Africa and worldwide, organisations need to assess their information security practices. The key is to balance the pervasive access to information made possible by enterprise collaboration applications – including data sharing tools, messaging apps and email – while maintaining compliance with POPIA and other regulations. Collaboration tools make it easy for employees to inadvertently share regulated information with unauthorised parties, or worse steal it for malicious purposes.
There are many solutions that can help ensure POPI compliance and mitigate risk. A data-centric approach to managing compliance is a must to comply with POPI. Protection must be applied to data itself as opposed to just the application or container in which it resides to best protect against breaches and compliance violations as it passes though digital hands within and outside your organisation.
Exponant offers advanced information protection that can help ensure your organisation complies with the POPI Act information security mandates. Exponant provides a simpler, faster and cost-effective solution to tailor information protection to control user access to and sharing of regulated personal data and other sensitive information (intellectual property, financial information, healthcare information, HR documents, etc.) in file sharing, messaging and chat across cloud, on-premises and hybrid collaboration tools.
We empower organisations to implement and enforce POPI information security measures with an automated solution to:
- Locate personal data that currently exists within the storage repositories and tools used for file storage and collaboration including on-premises files shares and cloud sharing applications including Microsoft Office 365—SharePoint, OneDrive, and Exchange, plus Dropbox, and Windows file shares.
- Automatically classify documents based on the presence of personal or other sensitive data governed by POPI and other regulatory guidelines.
- Set business rules with classifications to restrict actions that can be taken with classified documents such as print, email, save as or downloading to prevent data leakage.
- Ensure that documents accessed and shared in group messaging and chat tools like Microsoft Teams and Yammer have the same data security restrictions as other collaboration tools.
- Restrict collaboration between users in different geographical locations or subsidiaries to meet regulatory guidelines.
- Automatically adapt security controls to the changing risk profile of data as users and third parties’ access and collaborate across multiple locations, organisational and geographic boundaries, and devices.
- Track access to regulated personal data for auditing and compliance purposes.
Compliance without sacrificing collaboration
Protecting data governed under POPI is of utmost importance for organisations doing business in South Africa – not doing so will harm both your brand’s reputation and your bottom line. Organisations must keep the right balance between what users need from a collaboration perspective and what the organisation demands from a security perspective to remain in compliance.
At Exponant we know that technology investment is redundant without adoption and so we take a two part approach to ensuring maximum take up of the new technology.
Technology Adoption Modelling
Before we even consider change management principles, great care is taken to use our Technology Adoption model to enhance our chances of gaining traction.
- Fit for Purpose
The technology must be aligned with business processes and deliver the same or more than the incumbent system, so that people see the point of using it. This takes careful business analysis in the form of both the business team and the technology team together with thorough process modelling and sufficient documentation.
- Easy to use
The new system should be intuitive, logical and easy to navigate. Multiple navigation routes, internal links and a comprehensive search function can be used to achieve this
- Make the user look and feel good
Nobody likes to feel like they are floundering, can’t keep up or may be embarrassed in front of their colleagues, so the system must have adequate help mechanisms such as links to internal policies or “how to” videos. The helpdesk should also be accessible, friendly and efficient.
Change management is a collective term for all approaches to prepare, support and help individuals and teams to effect organisational change. Drivers of change include the ongoing evolution of technology, internal reviews of processes, crisis response, customer demand changes, competitive pressure, acquisitions and mergers and organisational restructuring. These all impact on how employees use IT systems to remain productive.
It includes methods that redirect or redefine the use of resources, business process, budget allocations, or other modes of operation that significantly change a company.
Change management considers the full organisation but focuses on how people and teams are affected by this transition.
Exponant has a unique approach to change management in that we realise that change is also a product of people having day to day jobs on top of adapting a new system.
Over and above the existing and proven methodologies including Prosci ADCAR, Exponant adds an additional element. Our highly trained interns have the education they need, but in order for us to turn out well rounded professionals, we need them to gain real world experience. This is done through placing them on the ground with your employees to assist or reexplain the training, your employees get the hand holding they need and our interns gain insight into how business people think.
Exponant uses very senior, experienced project managers for our larger, more complex projects.
We believe that Project management is the process of leading the work of a team to achieve goals and meet success criteria at a specified time. The primary challenge of our project management is to achieve all of the project goals within the given constraints. This information is usually described in project documentation, created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time and budget. The secondary challenge is to optimise the allocation of necessary inputs and apply them to meet pre-defined objectives.
The objective of our project management is to produce a complete project which complies with our client’s objectives. The objective of project management is also to shape or reform the client’s brief to address the client’s objectives. Once our client’s objectives are clearly established they should influence all decisions made by other people involved in the project.
Content is the essence of people deriving the most out of your solution, if instructions are not clear or content is obscure or simply missing, this impacts on your user’s experience of the technology. We are in a position to assist you with the structuring of your information, curating, creating and editing your content.
We are an integrated ICT solutions provider that uses leading technologies to deliver sustainable value to corporate and public sector organisations.
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