Driving a digital transformation
AfriSam decided to augment its existing IBM Notes® and IBM Domino® solution for email and calendaring with a business social network based on IBM Connections—bringing together email, task management, instant messaging, file sharing and collaborative document editing on a single platform.
Montague recalls: “We initially considered Microsoft SharePoint, as I had experience deploying the platform in other companies. However, when we compared the Microsoft solution with the IBM offering, we felt that the collaboration capabilities in Connections were a better fit for our specific business requirements.”
To put its digital strategy into action, AfriSam engaged IBM Platinum Business Partner i1 Solutions to shape collaborative workflows for key business processes such as ISO 9001 auditing using IBM Connections and IBM Forms Experience Builder.
“i1 Solutions provided us with the expert resources we needed to ensure our project was a success; and their consultants really went the extra mile for us,” Montague comments. “Because our collaboration solution is the foundation for other initiatives in our business transformation program, we were working to a tight deadline—and the i1 Solutions team worked with us day and night to get us across the finish line in time.”
The company also worked with IBM Business Partner Ukuvuma Solutions to implement the custom-built collaboration solution.
Today, AfriSam has rolled out IBM Connections to 1,011 users across the business. And to engage employees with the change process, AfriSam developed a new top-down, bottom-up communications strategy called the AfriSam Way.
“We wanted to build a centralized digital workspace for all of our employees, and thanks to our IBM solutions and the AfriSam Way, that’s exactly what we have achieved,” says Montague. “The minutes of all of our meetings—whether they take place virtually or face-to-face—are now captured in IBM Connections, as well as all of our documentation on policies and procedures.
“Since we embraced a social business approach, measuring and maintaining ISO standards has become a part of daily life. In fact, during our most recent gap analysis, our auditors went out of the way to comment on the positive difference that using IBM Connections to track actions and accountabilities has made.”
Laying the foundation for value-added services
With a business social network supporting its operations across Southern Africa, AfriSam is building the agile, digital culture it needs to surge ahead with its customer services transformation.
“In the past, closing down issues identified during an audit could take months—but today, that’s all changed,” explains Montague. “Any items we identify in a meeting or an internal audit go into an audit community in IBM Connections as an activity. We allocate these activities to the relevant line managers, who typically upload the evidence required to resolve the items in a matter of hours. Thanks to the increased visibility that IBM Connections offers us, we’ve already closed down several audit items this year and we’ve been able to reduce the number of documents in circulation from 25,700 to 4,700.”
She adds: “The IBM solution is also helping us to break down the barrier between enterprise risk management and the business. We recently created a self-auditing workflow using IBM Forms Experience Builder, with Ukuvuma Solutions’ Agility Integration Portal and IBM Domino Designer XPages to automatically transform the reported audit items into IBM Connections activities. We have significantly reduced our workload per year—freeing our people to focus on value-added activities.”
With a single source of truth for procedures and policy documentation in IBM Connections, AfriSam is helping to ensure that all its business units are following best practices.
“In the past, the combination of limited communication between departments and paper-based processes meant that there was always a risk that different parts of the business were following different approaches to procedures such as recruitment,” comments Montague. “In the process of digitizing our documentation and migrating it to IBM Connections, we were able to consolidate our processes and procedures by 98 percent—helping us to maintain clear, consistent standards across AfriSam.”
With an enterprise-class collaboration platform at the heart of its business, AfriSam is preparing to launch innovative value-added services to support its business growth.
“When we first embarked on our transformation process, we had a clear goal: that the technology should fade into the background,” says Montague. “Today, that’s exactly what’s happening. If one of our managers is standing in the control room of a manufacturing plant, they can respond to a message on their mobile device then and there. Our people increasingly start work with morning meetings in IBM Connections—it’s becoming the first place they visit to plan their days.”
She concludes: “Looking to the future, we see that becoming a digital business will be key to differentiate ourselves in a competitive market. Thanks to our new communications strategy and IBM Connections, we are building the foundational capabilities we need to support innovative services.”