By Charndré Emma Kippie
Empowering the SA workforce
Digital transformation, essentially, refers to the utilisation of emerging digital tools geared towards solving business challenges. This term, which society has come to know pretty well, typically pushes the mind towards ideas surrounding AI, Cloud and software development. However, at its core, ‘digital transformation’ is actually underpinned by empowering individuals to work more effectively.
A new way of efficiency
While many industries have looked at news ways of embracing and savouring the benefits of digital transformation, now more than ever, there are others that find themselves stuck and challenged by the idea of pivoting. In South Africa, we are starting to see positive change as more and more organisations and agencies begin to acknowledge and celebrate the human element of digital transformation. Thus, digital transformation within the public sector has become an imperative.
Moving to a more ‘digital way of life’ will, undoubtedly, not only assist in organising Government structures and making operations more efficient, but it will also permit the public sector to better serve its citizens.
In order to ensure that digital transformation becomes a reality in this stream, Human Resources (HR) is required to step in and pave the way for critical transition – leveraging technology to innovate from within Government.
Better recruitment strategies
In order to pivot around digital transformation, it increasingly becomes HR departments’ responsibility to prioritise key elements such as skills development, digital fluency, and adequate adoption of new technologies.
Innovative, automated recruitment tools help save time and resources for HR staff, streamlining administrative tasks such as scheduling, pre-screening candidates and recruiting on-the-go by means of a mobile app. Digital tools as such improve candidate experience, providing applicants with a good first impression of the organisation, and speeds up most processes. This, in turn, means that hiring and onboarding happens faster, giving existing staff members more time to zoom in on their main objectives as Government employees — attending to the various needs of our citizens.
On-demand access to vital information
When organisations are able to significantly invest in digital learning and upskilling solutions, which have the capability to distribute content to employees as they need it, their chances of being able to better serve citizens will increase twofold. As a front-end staff member at a government agency, it is often quite challenging having to deal with frustrated customers and having no knowledge of how to properly use the technological tools needed for problem-solving. On-demand access to learning tools and service prevents situations as mentioned above, offering training and even refresher workshops/courses for employees who need them.
Digital solutions specifically tailored for governments will, in addition, provide them with an immediate connection to citizens, providing them with up-to-date insight on what their needs and expectations are. Kickstarting reform and innovative projects, user-centered design and co-creation are just two examples of how to encourage citizens to get involved in how their leaders govern, and many of these projects are successfully enabled by apps and digital technologies.
Local expertise on HR and digitisation
Weighing in on the digital conversation, Julius Segole – who is the Chief Technology Officer at Boxfusion – believes in assisting South Africans with efficiency in the workplace, especially within the public sector.
Boxfusion – an organisation synonymous with homegrown technology solutions that assist the South African public sector to streamline and automate its complex administrative processes on a daily basis – has been aware of the hesitancy and lethargy in government to digitise, citing impediments such as legality of digital decision making, cost of digitising, technical and user readiness for digital transformation, and low success of digitisation efforts.
“The company saw a niche opportunity to offer government departments affordable digital solutions that address immediate pain points within government such as continuous audit findings, lethargic service delivery and inefficient manual processes whilst complying with regulatory prescripts such as Electronic Communications and Transaction Act (ECT Act)”, commented Segole.
“By addressing the technology adoption impediments in the public sector and the pain points of bureaucracy we were able to deliver a fit for purpose digital solution, driving much needed digital transformation in government and deriving immediate and long term value.”
Performance management and development in focus
Today, Boxfusion plays a vital role in contributing to enhancing Digital Transformation, in HR, within the public sector. One of the organisation’s major areas of concern was the annual audit and management of leave. Most of the findings were due to lack of information or records to account for leave as well as evident financial losses resulting from this state of affairs.
“We developed the leave module and we were able to successfully integrate with the government HR system called PERSAL ensuring seamless and end-to-end digital experience for employees. On the other hand, this delivered better leave management for supervisors and management”, Segole explained.
“We also digitised other HR functions such as Performance Management & Development System (PMDS) and Recruitment. These modules proved very useful especially during the COVID lockdown, enabling easy processing of these HR functions without the need for face-to-face engagement or in-person presentation of HR documentation.”
The SmartGov way
Boxfusion’s SmartGov Platform is aimed at treating the public sector’s inefficient, archaic paper-based processes.
“All government entities that took our leave module have been able to eliminate leave related audit findings and reduce financial losses related to unaccounted leave. Business units within these public entities have been able to manage staff availability through full visibility of all leave planned within the team and how it impacts service delivery thereby negotiating optimal leave plans for the business unit”, said Segole.
“The Performance Management System reduced the time it took to comply with regulatory requirements for performance management, reduce process ambiguity, enforce better measurement metrics thereby reducing disputes and employee unhappiness. The departments have been able to conclude and comply with submissions of employee performance on a quarterly and annual basis.”