Computerworld Honors 2013: Fighting disease with better tech gets better results

The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, the 21st Century Achievement Award winner for world good, implements an integrated ERP system that allows it to focus even more resources on its core mission.

Computerworld Honors medal

The Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation is on the front lines in the fight against HIV and tuberculosis in South Africa, whose population has been hit hard by both diseases.

Founded in 2004, the DTHF was one of the first public clinics to offer anti-retroviral therapy to HIV patients. It provides free education, testing and treatment for HIV and tuberculosis from multiple locations as well as access to clinical trials. The foundation also has a mobile unit that travels to outlying townships.

Not surprisingly, as DTHF projects and services have grown over the past decade, so have its administrative costs, operational complexities and regulatory requirements.

The DTHF in March 2012 implemented SAP Business One, an integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, to help it better manage its operations as well as its compliance with stringent governance requirements.

The foundation already has seen several significant benefits from the system.

First, SAP Business One is substantially reducing the organization's audit costs even as it grows. The system reduced transaction processing times by 30%, which gives traveling project leaders the ability to authorize and approve projects from anywhere on their mobile devices. Creditor summary reports have improved creditor management while multicurrency reports automatically calculate exchange rate risks, a capability the DTHF didn't have prior to the implementation.

The organization estimates that the new software system will help it save more than $45,000 annually.

The system has brought other improvements, too. SAP Business One enables greater operational transparency, so physicians managing individual clinical trials have better insight into their budgets and, as a result, are making spending decisions that they were previously hesitant to make. And because they can ascertain budget information more quickly, they now have more time to spend on patient care.

Moreover, SAP Business One is supporting the foundation's management staff as they work around the world, giving the foundation the ability to utilize personnel resources in the best ways to serve patients and focus on the services that improve patient health -- instead of on administrative support functions. For instance, users can see with just a few clicks of a computer button where procurement processes might be held up, rather than having to contact multiple staff members to get updates and status reports, as had been done in the past.

SAP Business One, with its centralized, credible and robust financial system, also has increased the organization's ability to receive grants and extend social benefits. It enables the DTHF to efficiently and transparently manage money as well as track and measure donor funds. Such insight ensures that the DTHF can attract future grants, so it can continue to serve all those who need its help.

Next: Life-changing lessons via mobile device

Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at

Read more about the 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureates.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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