Mining Africa’s potential


As the business landscape changes and evolves, the saying that a desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world, has never been truer.

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, they now operates on six different continents in over 63 countries, across more than 15 verticals and is a global leader in providing enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

“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.”

In Africa alone, Syspro software manages over a trillion rand of inventory, with over 35 000 people turning on the software on the continent each day. Their 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,” says Malcomess. “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.”

The right fit

The mining industry is one of Syspro’s strongest verticals and their solution for the mining industry is specially designed to enhance production efficiency, optimise cost management and improve customer relations. Key features of the solution include:

Easy integration with maintenance management systems (MMS)
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,” says Malcomess. “It’s my deep-seated belief that Syspro puts the right team together for that cultural fit.”

Mopani Copper Mine in Zambia is one of its great success stories. Mopani is a subsidiary of FTSE100 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.

Their software is now responsible for enabling the production of over 200 000 tonnes 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 they provide 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 re-deployed on value-add projects rather than having to support and maintain the ERP system. End-users love working on the system because of its simplicity and ease of use.

A 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 cafes 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 is only opportunity.”

A shot of productivity

The company’s mobile offering, dubbed Syspro Espresso, is aimed at the ever-growing number of smart phones 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 also ensures that a dropped Wi-Fi 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,” says Duff. “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.”

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This edition

Issue 42