With governance and compliance requirements pressing, bandwidth and telecoms technologies improving, and companies seeking greater operational efficiencies, Business Process Management is on the verge of a boom in East and West Africa.
This is according to Jacques Wessels, the CEO of FlowCentric Technologies, a South Africa-based developer of smart business process management (BPM) systems. The company is working with channel development partner, Blue Pencil, to establish an active BPM channel in Africa, and has gained a firm foothold in African countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique.
“The opportunities for BPM in Africa are huge. In fact, we are on the cusp of a BPM boom. We’re experiencing a very reassuring surge in interest in BPM on the back of the maturation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) in Africa, particularly in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria. Companies that have successfully implemented ERP are now realising that to go beyond the transactional efficiencies accomplished with ERP and achieve the operational efficiencies that will give them the competitive edge, they need a BPM tool.
“A lot of companies, particularly those that are multinational, are also being prompted to implement BPM to automate processes and entrench controls that will ensure their compliance with the various pieces of legislation and other governance frameworks that apply to their industries.
“Africa-based companies face the same issues as organisations in South Africa and around the world when it comes to compliancy and implementing best practices in support of governance.
“Another factor lending to growth not only in BPM adoption but other technologies as well is the dramatic improvements in bandwidth and telecommunications technologies in a number of African countries in recent years. While the geographical nature of the region once hindered reaching and communicating with companies there, it is now easier and more cost effective to engage with them regularly. Improved communication capabilities also allow us to provide adequate support to our channel partners across the continent.
“Providing strong support to partners is essential to growing and strengthening the BPM channel into Africa. A fire and forget approach will never work. We have to ensure that we properly skill-up our partners so that they are empowered to effectively activate clients. Advancements in technologies ensure that we can deliver more effective and ongoing mentorship to them,” says Wessels.
Tallies Taljaard, Managing Director at Blue Pencil agrees that channel growth and sustainability is highly dependant on the recruitment, activation, mobilisation and management of partners on the ground.
“Partner selection has to be strategic. It’s not enough to simply choose partners that have a presence in Africa. They need to have an established customer base, credibility and the capacity to ramp up around their BPM offering.
“Of course, skills and consulting know-how are in short supply. A considerable investment in time, resources and financial investment to up-skill partners is also critical,” he says.
Taljaard adds that key to BPM growth in Africa is the commitment of vendors to create a demand for it.
“Lack of maturity in the Africa market impacts demand. After all it is not what you do, but how well you do it that differentiates organisations. BPM is the cornerstone for this differentiation. It facilitates efficiency and excellence in organisation. It is up to vendors to create demand through marketing, education and demonstrating the value of BPM,” he says, adding that demonstrations and joint workshops with customers such as SABMiller, which runs FlowCentric in 13 of its operations in Africa, are a key component in the campaign to showcase BPM value and unleash demand.
Wessels concludes saying that extending a footprint into Africa comes with unique set of challenges but these are far outweighed by the opportunities.
“We expect that at least 40% of our business will be reflected in Africa in the near future.”