Johannesburg, 22 Sep 2023
The Perishable Products Export Control Board (PPECB), Africa's official perishable produce export certification agency, recognised the need for digitalisation given its reliance on legacy systems dating back decades. The independent service provider of quality certification and cold chain management services turned towards a project that would integrate the richness of their history with contemporary business requirements. Enter Altron Karabina, with its deep Microsoft expertise and customer-focused approach.
Understanding the challenge
The PPECB has a rich history dating back nearly a century and, as such, the organisation has become reliant on legacy systems, many of which were customised, no longer supported by Microsoft and on the brink of becoming obsolete.
For the PPECB, replacing these systems was not just about embracing new technology, but preserving a work culture built over nearly a century. Their workforce, some of whom have been with the business for 25 to 41 years, were accustomed to a specific way of doing things, often manually. Therefore, a major concern was finding a solution that was flexible and considerate of the human elements of change.
Selecting the right partner
The PPECB embarked on the project by identifying the ERP solution that would provide a seamless fit for its vast financial and operational systems. Following an extensive internal process focused exclusively on selecting the right software, Microsoft D365 emerged as the optimal choice.
Subsequently, the PPECB commenced a tender process to find the right implementation partner. Altron Karabina was awarded the bid. As Pravesh Parbhoo, Head of Sales and Solutions at Altron Karabina, reflected: "It was a rigorous tender process given the PPECB governance framework. We always negotiated for win-win where both parties could benefit from the partnership." Their shared vision for a fair, sustainable outcome and Altron Karabina's reputation and expertise presented them as the ideal partner to work on this project.
Going beyond digital
"The engagement with the PPECB was Altron Karabina’s Public Sector's first ERP project," Parbhoo mentioned. "The ease of doing business with the PPECB is what has made it such a pleasurable project for the team to work on."
Altron Karabina initiated the process by implementing D365's financial modules. By November 2022, they had also integrated the supply chain management modules. The roadmap now includes the more diverse aspects of D365, encompassing product inspection as well as the food safety and BI business units, and more.
Aneesa Moosa-Camroodien, PPECB's Financial Accountant, expressed the importance of the project: "Our legacy system is so customised that we could never upgrade our previous financial system. Now the focus is on going on a standard D365 ERP system and only considering customisation after a long period of understanding our processes better."
Collaborating for success
Both Altron Karabina and the PPECB emphasised the significance of their strong partnership-driven approach. The project was not just about delivering an ERP system, but about understanding and working through each other's quirks. Their collaborative approach centred on communication, shared vision and seeking mutual ground in the face of challenges. As Moosa-Camroodien put it: "The journey with Altron Karabina has been symbiotic where, together, we always try to find the middle ground."
Altron Karabina's ethos is grounded in delivering innovation that matters, understanding intrinsic challenges and prioritising business value. Their approach to the PPECB was no different. "We adopted a consulting approach to understand the business requirements and work accordingly to give the company something that works for the business," Parbhoo noted.
For the PPECB, the tangible benefits of the project became evident fairly quickly. Despite challenges with implementing in a legacy-rich environment, all financial data was accurately captured in the new system without errors. The granularity of reporting allowed the PPECB to delve deeper into their general ledger and chart of accounts more than ever before.
Furthermore, this partnership stands as a testament to Altron Karabina's commitment to its core messages. They not only offered in-depth technological expertise but also prioritised a secure, relationship-driven, value-obsessed approach that empowered the PPECB's workforce and aimed to accelerate their business results.
The PPECB's journey with Altron Karabina is emblematic of modern digital transformations: navigating legacy, understanding human resistance to change, leveraging technology and, most importantly, fostering meaningful partnerships. The success of this venture is not merely in the seamless integration of a state-of-the-art ERP system, but in the alignment of visions, mutual respect and a commitment to collective growth.
As the PPECB continues on its digitalisation journey, it does so with an empowered workforce, a robust digital backbone and a trusted technology partner in Altron Karabina, together charting the course for a future that respects the past while embracing the possibilities of the future.