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March 14, 2017

The new benchmark in operational efficiency

AN ADMINISTRATIVE HEADACHE
The Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB is responsible for the licensing, regulation and oversight of retail sales and micro-manufacturing of alcohol in the Eastern Cape province. The Board’s workload is significant, considering it is tasked with issuing and overseeing more than 8000 licenses annually to liquor outlets.

“The problem we had was a lack of business processes that would talk to our mandate. Because we are a regulatory body, governed by legislation, we had reached a point where we were struggling to meet the statutory timeframes for the issuance of licenses,” says Pumlani Tyali, Licensing Senior Manager at the Eastern Cape Liquor Board.

This was as a result of an inflexible legacy system that was no longer able to keep up with the changing needs of the business, and led to the ECLB being unable to fulfil its oversight role by ensuring annual inspections of all licensed outlets. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that most of its other processes like complaints management, were completely manual, making them difficult to track and manage.

“We needed a new system to form the foundation of our business processes, an automated licensing system that would help us improve our operational efficiency and compliance with the legislation that governs our authority,” Tyali explains.

“The tender was incredibly competitive, there were some big-name companies tendering against Boxfusion, but we found them to be closest to what we actually needed. That was a flexible, automated system that could integrate with any future enhancements as and when demanded by business. It was this recognition of our needs that made Boxfusion the only real candidate for us.”

ACCELERATED CHANGE

In six months the Boxfusion team delivered a system that was capable of automating the ECLB’s core licensing processes including Licensing, Inspections & Compliance Monitoring, Transfers, Complaints Management and Appeals Management.

A customisation process this lengthy has to involve the potential system’s users in order to reflect on the challenges that they experience in relation to executing their mandate. “We had to have everyone involved in drawing up the specifications of this system if it was to resolve any of the challenges we were faced with. We had to identify risks that we faced in our daily tasks, and once we had done that and brought Boxfusion on board, they conducted a number of workshops to determine how the system would work,” Tyali recalls.

“It was here that Boxfusion showed their value, helping us to fill in the gaps that we might have missed, around how we interpreted our business processes,” Tyali says. The implementation and adoption phase was quite challenging, given that the majority of ECLB had never been exposed to such a complex business system. There were a number of staff that were not accustomed to working with computers. “We had to bring them up to speed and acclimatise them so that they could see the benefits of using SnapStar to make their jobs easier,”.

ROCKET-FUELED, REAL-TIME RESULTS

“We started seeing results from this system almost immediately. Increased operational efficiency is evident in the time it takes to process an application, which is much faster than it was before. “We’ve also appreciated the increased detail in management information that is real-time, and the ability to perform reporting. The biggest result we’ve
seen is the manner in which our customer service has improved. We no longer have lengthy queues, we no longer have people complaining about not receiving their licenses on time and we’re able to get feedback from our license-holders through our interaction with the Liquor Traders’ Association,” Tyali says.

The overall experience of working with Boxfusion was a positive one. Tyali highlights that this was the
first time that such a system had been customised in the liquor industry. It is a point of pride that the ECLB has been
approached by a number of other liquor authorities in other provinces in order to perform benchmarking against SnapStar.

“We’ve even had a lot of feedback from attorneys and lawyers, and have been commended often by the South African Lawyers’ Association on our proficiency in fulfilling our mandate,” he enthuses.

On the topic of plans for the future, Tyali reveals that because the ECLB works with so many other entities, like government printers, SARS and Home Affairs, the Board would like to have automatic plugin to these systems in order to better integrate information management and sharing. There is also a need for mobile workforce
enhancement measures, and the board foresees looking at ways to better equip their field workers to enhance remote productivity.