Success of Cape Town Council SAP system to form battleground for election

Much to the chagrin of the ruling ANC government in South Africa, the national pearl that is Cape Town is ruled by the Democratic Alliance after it ousted the ANC at the last elections.

The Alliance has used the success of an SAP system to solidify political support, after improving services among citizens.

While the next municipal election isn't until 2016, the ANC has already started its campaign to try and win back the city, but the administration is already planning further SAP upgrades to improve services further, and possibly win votes as a result.

Cape Town CIO Andre Stelzner is on the political fence though when it comes to the end-to-end SAP deployment that seems to have made the Democratic Alliance's job easier to keep control.

Stelzner said, "I'm a bureaucrat, I want to know how do we make things more efficient. Politicians want a short term social upliftment. You have to make the two aspirations work together.

"We had to convince the politicians that we wanted to spend 354 million Rand on SAP to help deliver social upliftment."

Stelzner said, "Politicians were saying 'how can you spend that much on computers when people haven't got homes to live in'."

But Stelzner and his team won the argument to pay for a SAP system that runs the council's entire back office, which was completed in 2003.

The council is now considering further SAP investment to support the council's initiatives in improving land-use management, transport management, and safety and security areas, so the police and emergency services can tap into the operational advantages that others parts of the council have enjoyed.

SAP is in pole position to win the contract for these solutions as the council is a big fan of running an end-to-end system that is not customised and which allows various departments to be easily integrated.

With the help of SAP, council billing accuracy  has reached 98 percent and bill collection rates have risen from the "late eighties" in percentage terms to the "high nighties", according to Stelzner.

He says SAP, which includes a CRM system, has also improved council accountability to citizens and made sure their issues are dealt with more efficiently through a single call centre.

Deputy mayor Ald Ian Nielsen is a big advocate of the SAP system and is keen to make sure no change in the administration takes place in 2016, which he believes could potentially undo the progress the council has made on service delivery.

He says, "The administration before us (the ANC) set this city back, and could cause further problems if they did get back in."

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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