As the only ICT Public Private Partnership (PPP) in South Africa, Siemens IT Solutions and Services and the Department of Labour (DoL) have become trendsetters for other government agencies and ICT vendors.
The two organisations signed a 10-year contract valued at R1, 25-billion in 2002. Now, more than halfway through the tenure, all systems are on track to deliver on the Department of Labour’s Information Technology objectives as set out in the agreement.
Edgar Mabothe, divisional director of Siemens IT Solutions and Services, says engaging in a PPP requires the commitment of both parties.
“Our relationship with the Department of Labour is based on two pillars: value for money and risk sharing. A clear understanding of those two pillars, handled with commitment and maturity, is the foundation of our successful partnership.”
In terms of the PPP agreement, Siemens assumed full responsibility and the risks associated with taking over DoL’s IT resources, including hardware, software, support, maintenance and application development. The Department of Labour was responsible for accurately defining business processes and requirements, while Siemens was tasked with system design, development and delivery.
Dr Deon Haasbroek, chief information officer of the Department of Labour, comments: “We have put a lot of trust in Siemens, trust that goes beyond purely operational trust into a perfect service partnership based on mutual understanding and respect for what each party wishes to achieve.
“This trust has created the foundation necessary for the relationship to thrive and to deliver value for both parties as well as for the larger society that we serve.”
During the first half of the contract period, Siemens focused on implementing a new IT infrastructure for the Department of Labour. This has been completed and is running smoothly, and the Siemens team is currently engaged in the application development process.
Although the agreement covers a host of applications, one of the highlights is Siyaya, a system which has automated the administration of claims made at the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). By managing the claims process from start to finish, DoL users are now able to process a claim much faster than previously. Where applicants used to wait 40 days for a claim to be processed, it is now done in a matter of hours.
In addition, Siemens has developed Employee Services SA, a placement application portal due to be launched in the next few months. Unemployed people can have their details captured at the Department of Labour, and the system records opportunities for work, looks at the individual’s skills profile and matches it up to employment opportunities. The system has gone live, and staff training is currently under way.
Other applications developed by Siemens for DoL include eClaims, a comprehensive claim processing system that deals with claims preparation, registration and adjudication, approval or repudiation at the Compensation Fund. This system has been integrated with a financial application for reporting and payments can be made by cheque or electronic transfer.
Management information systems (MIS) also allow for management and stakeholder reports to be generated at any point in time to facilitate management and strategic decision-making.
From an overall perspective, the Department is reaping the benefits of a more productive business environment which aids growth and provides the public with a better, faster and more comprehensive service.
“Compared to the disparate computing environment that existed before, we have gone a long way towards achieving the goal of a fully integrated, strategic system that is cost-effectively maintained and supported to deliver real value and a meaningful service,” Mabothe says.