SSG Consulting – Steven Golding

Winner of the Management of Innovation award for 2017, category for medium enterprises

Project overruns need not be the norm

Project overruns are notoriously common in South Africa, where power stations and high-speed trains have been built at significantly higher cost and over longer timeframes than originally planned. But it’s not just in South Africa that infrastructure and construction projects often drag out and cost more. Globally, overruns in costs and time range from 27% to 200%, according to Steven Golding of SSG Consulting.

“The software used is obviously ineffective,” says Steven, a mechanical engineer (and triathlete) who, after observing time and cost overruns on virtually every project he encountered in his 20 years in the construction industry, decided to do something about it.

He founded Pretoria-based SSG Consulting in 2008 – smack-bang in the middle of the global financial crisis – and started developing KEY360.

In a nutshell, KEY360 is a cloud-based and web-enabled platform for managing large-scale projects, on time and within budget, which it does by neatly integrating 140 different business systems and processes, with unlimited global access, data validation and real-time reporting.

It wasn’t long before SSG Consulting was doing well enough to move out of Steven’s Land Rover (“That’s where I started”) into proper offices and later into a Pretoria East property that is also a horse farm.

“We do things very differently from the norm,” he says. “Ever since we started out as an organisation, innovation has been part of what we do. We have a passion for developing new stuff and for helping organisations to develop their own innovation programmes.

“Although we started in project management as a core business, and this indeed still is, KEY360 has so many Enterprise functions that we now service many other industries.”

Recent innovations include the KEY360 app, called KEY30 10X, which provides mobile access to the KEY360 platform from a phone or iPad and speeds up business processes by 10 times. “We have the data to prove it,” Steven says.

He adds that it’s “easy” to innovate in an industry such as project management, precisely because there are so many problems to deal with.

One surprising aspect of SSG Consulting’s approach to innovation is that patenting innovations such as KEY360 and the KEY360 app are not priorities. Steven’s explanation is simple: “We’re not worried about anybody being able to do what we do. Our approach to challenges and to the required tech solutions is so unique and often subtle that it is not necessary to patent – thousands of ideas and innovations are built into the system. We are fundamentally different.”

Ends

PFK – Alan Sullivan – Chief Technical Officer

TIPS™ really works for multiple tt100 award-winner

After winning four tt100 awards and two finalist positions, you’d think that PFK Electronics would be patting itself on the back and basking in the glory of being one of the biggest winners yet in the tt100 Business Innovation Awards Programme.

Far from it. “Winning doesn’t mean you’ve made it. Winning means you are aware of your weaknesses and where you can improve,” says Alan Sullivan, chief technical officer of the multiple-award-winning Durban-based company.

This is not false modesty. As Alan points out, PFK Electronics is one of a handful of South African auto electronics manufacturers left, and upping its game constantly is a matter of sheer survival.

“Our market is international and it is becoming more and more difficult to keep competitors from the East at bay,” he says, adding that Indian and Chinese companies especially have the advantage of significant R&D support from their governments. “If the South African government only understood how thin our engineering industry is…”

PFK Electronics is definitely not waiting for government to come to the industry’s rescue. “We have the benefit of 40 years of R&D investment behind us and we are continually evolving, continually looking at ourselves to see where we are and where we can get better. In this business, if you’re going to say, ‘I’m a fat cat now, I can relax’, you’re lost.”

Put another away, “If you do not change, you can become extinct.” These famous words are from one of Alan’s favourite books, Who moved my cheese?, by best-selling author Dr Spencer Johnson.

Staying on its toes is part of the PFK Electronics ethos, and an important part of that in the past 10 years has been to embed the tt100 TIPS framework into the business.

Says Alan: “TIPS™ is not some fancy idea that is all theoretical. If you are aware of what it means and how it all fits together, TIPS makes it so much easier to understand the connection between technology, innovation and the human factor, and to bring it all together.”

Look no further than the *four tt100 awards that PFK Electronics walked off with in November 2017 in the category for large enterprises. It’s a hard act to follow, but then following isn’t how winners are made.

*MTN Award for Excellence in Innovation, Eskom Award for Excellence in the Management of Systems, Blank Canvas International Award for Sustainability and, last but not least, the Department of Science and Technology Minister Award for Overall Excellence.

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