Accsys, winner of the Management of Technology Award in the medium enterprise category
What drives technology is time – specifically, not wasting it
Meet Teryl Schroenn, Director of payroll and people management software company Accsys and lover of poetry. One of her favourite poems is TS Eliot’s The love song of J Alfred Prufrock, he of the immortal line, “I grow old, I grow old, I shall wear the bottom of my trousers rolled …”
While Prufrock agonises over the passing of time and whether he will have enough of it to finally profess his passion to the subject of his admiration, Teryl and her team at Accsys know how to make the most of time.
After all, this is what technology is all about: “The concept of not wasting time has driven technology. The human race is an impatient group and our expectations are just exponential,” says Teryl, pointing out that if something takes 10 minutes today, we want it to be five minutes tomorrow and then are extremely unhappy if it takes six. “The constant demand that we humans are not wasting our time has driven technology intensely in the last 12 months.”
Being in the payroll business, time has always mattered to Accsys. Clients’ employees must receive their salaries on time and to the cent, and there is no tolerance for delays and mistakes. “If you can’t pay your people, you can’t do business,” Teryl says.
So when the COVID-19 pandemic reached South Africa and the hard lockdown was announced, the pressure was on to ensure clients could continue to pay their people without skipping a beat.
Accsys sprang into action.
“In three days, we were able to move from an on-premises businesses to an at-home business in March 2020,” Teryl says. “Fortunately, a lot of our stuff was already in the cloud, so that enabled us to run everything from home, including our outsourcing department, services, sales, training – everything.”
Even before the hard lockdown started at midnight on 27 March 2020, every one of Accsys’s 100-strong staff was working from home, equipped with computers, connectivity and SIM cards to ensure that clients could pay their people without skipping a beat.
Then government introduced COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits and the Temporary Employee/Employer Relief Scheme (TERS), followed by a quick succession of changes in regulations to adapt to the unfolding pandemic. “At that point, there was a lot going on and, along with managing the technology, we had to become experts very quickly in the statutory requirements because that’s what our clients expected.”
Not content with that, Accsys started looking at what else it could do to assist its clients in coping with the fallout from the pandemic from a people management perspective.
“What we saw immediately was that businesses were going to have to go back to work and their first challenge would be to keep their people healthy.” Realising that its biometric readers for access control could come in handy with this, Accsys worked with one of its partners, ZKTeco, to introduce thermal detector readers to the market.
“These readers can detect whether someone is wearing a mask and their temperature, and is actually more accurate than those handheld temperature devices,” says Teryl.
Accsys wrote the code to align with the hardware, and within six weeks, by mid-May 2020, the first installations were done.
Hand in hand with this, Accsys and ZK hosted weekly webinars to demonstrate live how the software and hardware worked together. Hundreds of people attended.
“What this experience showed us is how quickly we were able to come to market with a solution as well as advise companies in making people’s workplaces safer.”
It also shows just how much can be achieved when time is of the essence and it is wisely used. Dream on, Mr Prufrock.
Cura Risk Management Software, winner of
the Management of Technology Award in the small enterprise category
‘Beautiful’ technological process
underpins Cura’s success
Steve Jobs’ aversion to focus groups and
surveys was well known but he was probably uniquely gifted in knowing what
solutions would work for customers. For the rest of us, the more open we can be
to quality input when designing our products, the better.
This doesn’t mean listening to whoever
talks the loudest or longest, and of course you need to be able to “filter out
the noise” and home in on the things that really matter. The important thing is
having the right sounding board and a good roadmap – or three – to take you to
where you need to go.
Cura Risk Management Software, winners of
five tt100 awards for 2020, including Management of Technology, attributes its
success – in the tt100 awards and its business performance – to its
three-in-one roadmap and Product Advisory Board.
“We have three individual roadmaps that
integrate into an overarching technology roadmap that includes a wide variety
of inputs and data gathering, this would be the main differentiator for winning
the Management of Technology award,” says Jessica Knight, Head of Strategy at
Cura, a software company focusing on
governance, risk, compliance and risk-based audit solutions, manages technology
across two fronts: as a technology solutions provider and as a business that itself
consumes technology. “Our roadmap enables us to deliver technology and software
platforms to the quality we would like and to align the business with
best technology practice,” she says.
The overarching roadmap is an integration
of the following three individual roadmaps:
Product suite roadmap – focusing
on the user experience and guided by global best practice, regulatory
requirements and advisory partners;
Functionality and platform
roadmap – derived from the company’s Product Advisory Board, with input from
customers, industry experts, thought leaders, internal innovators and subject
matter experts; and
Technological roadmap –
determined by global technology trends with the objective of maintaining Cura
as a technological leader.
“Our solutions are the end result of the
three roadmaps, all linked together and informed by the Product Advisory Board
and external sources,” says Jessica, adding that Cura is continually making
room for new solutions, improving existing solutions and retiring products that
are no longer relevant.
“Cura’s model for managing technology is
complex, detailed and fully functional,” she concludes. “It’s a beautiful
technological process that we get excited about. It’s amazing.”
BMP Properties, winner of the Management of
Technology Award in the emerging enterprise category
Cash and paper are a thing of the past
for this technology-wise stokvel
The stokvel industry in South Africa turns
over R10 billion a year and almost all of this is paid in cash and recorded on
paper, exposing stokvels and their members to all manner of risks. One that has
broken the mould is Soweto-based Buhla Mahlo Properties (BMP), which has gone
completely cashless and paperless.
“Yes, we are trailblazers in the use of
technology in our industry, and introducing a cashless, paperless environment
has solved a lot of problems for us,” says Archie Rantao, chairman of BMP Properties
(which, as its name suggests, it more than a burial society – but more about
Archie says the standard stokvel model is
for members to pay their contributions in cash, often on a Sunday when the
banks are closed. “The treasurer has to keep all that money until he can go to
the bank on Monday, putting his life at risk.”
But safety is not the only challenge that
cash transactions pose for stokvels.
“There also used to be a lot of conflict
about members’ payments,” Archie says, explaining that proving who has paid how
much and when is crucial for a stokvel.
“We are underwritten by a major insurer. If
a member passes and their contributions are more than three months in arrears,
the cover will not be paid. Before, members were always suspicious about the
record keeping; now we can prove who paid and who didn’t, and there is no more
Archie explains how this came about. “Cash
puts your life at risk; you can lose it or be robbed. To mitigate the risk, we
stopped accepting cash and asked members to deposit their contributions into
“We then downloaded the banking app to see
who has paid and created a computerised spreadsheet to record the transactions.
Once a month, the spreadsheet is circulated to all members on WhatsApp for everyone
was some resistance to the new way of doing things. “In the townships, cash is
still king,” Archie says. “It took some time to convert our members to cashless
and paperless processes, but people see the benefit. It’s more transparent.
Trust is key in everything we do in life. Without trust, there is no
are greater efficiency and better client service. “Using technology, you can
track and reconcile your earnings and you always know how many clients you
have,” he says. “And why put your life at risk or expose people to temptation
by working with cash?”
successfully introduced cashless, paperless business, BMP Properties is also
expanding its scope of activities. It has purchased a stand at Protea Glen in
Soweto and is seeking corporate partners either to establish a private school
or build student accommodation.
“We decided we
wanted to be more than a burial society and also contribute to access to
quality education in the townships so that our kids don’t need to travel to the
suburbs,” Archie says. “Kids have to wake up as early as 4.30am to get
transport and they come home at 6.30pm or 7pm, tired. It’s too much for them.
We want to bring services to the townships so that our kids can have a better