Broad-Based-Black-Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE or BEE for short) is one of the most misunderstood and hotly debated issues in South Africa, and a contributing factor could be its failure to make use of Process Automation in properly communicating its affairs. It therefore causes fear, resentment, misgiving and feelings of inadequacy among all race groups.
Since 2005, Square Carrot has helped many multinationals like Lenovo, Kintetso, Osram and Verbatum to attain solid BEE strategies. The company however experienced a lot of frustration due to one problem: the process was extremely paper intensive and since BEE Verification Agents did not conform to the same perspective on how to interpret legislation, it added to the confusion and an atmosphere of disappointment prevailed among companies which desired to conform to the requirements of attaining certification.
“from Enterprise, to Consultant, to Verification Agent – enabling all to achieve optimized BEE around the same table!”
In May 2012 Ignis (Ig) Bortslap (MD, Square Carrot) approached On The Verge (OTV) with an idea on how to revolutionize the BEE Industry. As a typical forward-thinking businessman it was easy for Ig to converse the core concept, but taking it to market was a completely different story. OTV immediately realized the real potential of the concept could be achieved through Process Automation. Our company agreed to assist Ig in his endeavours. We took the core concept and transformed it into an effective and powerful tool within Ig’s own organization and throughout the entire BEE Industry – from Enterprise, to Consultant, to Verification Agent – enabling all to achieve optimized BEE around the same table! This is how OTV did it:
We decided to go digital! We called the project BEE 2.0 with our first aim to clarify the future state of activities and tasks, which would leave the old procedure (BEE 1.0) obsolete. Hence, OTV had to study every single procedure and calculation Square Carrot performed through the years to deliver its BEE consultation service according to BEE 1.0 requirements. Whilst studying how hundreds of complex legislative formulas fit into the verification audit, Riaan Hefer (Director at On The Verge), drafted a new strategy which included all the screen mechanics and calculations to facilitate the new BEE 2.0 procedure. The draft paved the way for a ‘5-step’ procedure instead of the old ‘7 category procedure’ of the former BEE 1.0 which simplified online processing and interaction in the process.
Once the screen mechanics were put in place, Naas Hefer (Director of Operations, OTV) took the essence of the proposed system and through the use of Process Automation transformed it into a communication hub. The communication hub enables intermediaries like Call Centre Agents, BEE Consultants, Verification Agents and internal employees to converse with each other in order to reduce lead time on activities such as finance queries, information collection, verification status etc. The same communication hub even allows clients to converse with each other on matters like implementing Socio-Economic Development Programmes and what the suggested routes are to achieve it efficiently.
At the stage when almost 75% of all the screen mechanics of the new BBE2.0 were developed by OTV, the New Codes of Good Practice for B-BBEE produced by the Government at the time opened for public comment. The new paper sought to reconstruct the BEE framework for assessment, and concerns in the OTV camp regarding sunc-costs became very real as drastic changes to the assessment might have threaten the agility of OTV’s new BEE2.0 process. However, after studying the paper it too revealed that Government wanted to reduce the original 7 categories to 5. The agility of Riaan Hefer’s initial concept proved to be spot-on and in line with the Government’s desire to change legislation.
It is always a challenge to ‘go live’ with any new system and having the advantage of hindsight today, Riaan remarks, “there couldn’t be a better way than going the Process Automation route!” With OTV as the System Administrator, the support team is quite outspoken about enjoying working on such a user-friendly and efficient system. The BEE 2.0 system is currently live at www.squarecarrot.co.za where Ignis and his team, which now include partner audit firms that assist in BEE verification, attract new clients on a daily bases.
OTV took Ignis’ basic concept and through Process Automation transformed it into a user-friendly product, bringing all Roll Players together to ensure equitable trading within the BEE Industry in South Africa.