Transition: from the old to the new

By Mwazvita Machiri, Project strategist and evaluator

The exponential rate at which technology is developing, and adapting is so fast that you can’t help but be swept away by this tidal wave of technological advancement.

Following eight months of intense development and troubleshooting, the MobiSAM website was launched on 6 March. How did we get here and what’s to follow?

The implementation of MobiSAM has not been a one day occurrence, but rather a series of events, or phases based on an ongoing process of evaluation. In order to integrate the MobiSAM software with Makana the team adhered to the phases of Business Process Re-engineering.

“Business process re-engineering (BPR) is a business management strategy focusing on the analysis and design of workflows and business processes within an organization. BPR aims to help organizations fundamentally rethink how they do their work in order to dramatically improve customer service, cut operational costs, and become more efficient.”

The aim of the transition was to improve access to relevant information, communication and coordination across municipal departments. As the strategy and evaluation team we went through a number of development and later training phases with municipal staff in a bid to better understand how they communicate and manage the flow of internal information.

BPR is powerful in that it can create new process design options, rather than simply supporting present ones. However, as MobiSAM we were focused on integrating processes that improve the current system whilst still supporting it.

The first phase was to understand the existing processes. This was done through various meetings with the people responsible for receiving and lodging complaints. The aspects of the communication process that were destined for a re-design were identified as: communication processes and issues with communicating feedback to colleagues as well as residents.

The subsequent launch of the website and all the software involved in running the system seeks to implement these collaboratively designed processes. This has been achieved through integrating the MobiSAM website with a Municipal ticketing system, thus offering the community a platform to communicate and receive feedback on a wide range of service delivery issues.

Despite the care and thorough approach to developing a tailor made software solution to local government, there remains a need for continuous support and evaluation in order to make the project sustainable. Therefore we have been going to each department of the Municipality to evaluate the implementation of the new system and to assist with troubleshooting any issues that arise. This will be an ongoing process which hopes to facilitate a smooth transition from the now old system to the new ticketing software and system. The following figure (below) represents the processes diagrammatically.

BPR schematic sourced: Organisational development resources, 2016,

With this in mind the Municipality has been going through a lot of change; old systems cannot be removed abruptly and therefore they are being used in conjunction with the new system to improve the communication.

For example, those issues that had been reported by walk-ins before implementation will still be entered manually by the employees onto the website to ensure the successful integration of the system. MobiSAM’s software development team have also been monitoring the use of the system, constantly troubleshooting when any unexpected issues pop up as the system is implemented and used by increasing amounts of people across Makana.

An example of this would be the continued use of the MobiSAM Facebook page, as opposed to using the website directly. Although not a pressing issue, which is being tended to by the MobiSAM team, we encourage people to register and direct all complaints via the MobiSAM website.

The MobiSAM Facebook page has gathered a lot of momentum over the past few months, bolstering public trust in MobiSAM as a useful agent in reporting local service delivery issues. The current modus operandi has required the MobiSAM team to repost reports on Facebook to the site so as to drive the transition as communication on the site gives benefits of direct interaction between you, the citizens and agents of local government whilst being able to keep track of the status of the issue you reported.

To get in touch and keep up to date with all developments that are MobiSAM related, listen out for the following:
– Wednesday morning insert on Radio Grahamstown: 9:30 – 10am
– Bi-monthly publication in Grocott’s Mail
– Regular posts and update on our Facebook and Twitter accounts
– Weekly posts on our blog

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