It's no secret that the bulk of the B‑BBEE compliance burden falls on two functions in an organisation: HR and Procurement. A central part of this is working with B‑BBEE data – sourcing, analysing and interpreting it, and ensuring that it flows smoothly throughout the compliance journey up to the point of independent verification.
"The silver bullet would be a single solution that provides a seamless flow of data, information, scorecards and evidence along the entire B‑BBEE compliance journey, from source to verification."
Both roles have unique challenges. HR must manage company-wide data and scorecards, while Procurement has the unenviable task of evaluating, monitoring and reporting on B‑BBEE suppliers.
This must be accomplished in the face of daily frustrations caused by inaccurate or incomplete data, and inconsistencies in interpretation by verification agencies.
It all places onerous demands on time and other resources. What's required is illumination that allows a clear view of all the data, and provides a roadmap for how to apply the data to achieve the desired level of B‑BBEE compliance, with minimum effort and error.
The silver bullet would be a single solution that provides a seamless flow of data, information, scorecards and evidence along the entire B‑BBEE compliance journey, from source to verification. Through digitisation, automation and integration, these solutions now exist.
The impact of B‑BBEE data management
"Personnel are required to use multiple ERP systems, each with its own data extraction process into a pivot table to feed another system. It's all too time-consuming, with the ever-present risk of human error."
On top of fulfilling their core roles, HR and Procurement professionals need to manage a mountain of B‑BBEE compliance management administration. Under the new codes, B‑BBEE administration can be so convoluted as to leave little time for anything else on too many days.
These professionals typically express frustration at a lack of clear, direct measures for self-assessment; a lack of planning tools; and cumbersome (or simply outdated), manual data management methods. A common lament is that they have no way of telling where and how to make improvements, in the absence of tools that can turn data in to meaningful gap analysis.
A lack of system or software integration is often the root of much this frustration. For instance, personnel are required to use multiple ERP systems, each with its own data extraction process into a pivot table to feed another system. It's all too time-consuming, with the ever-present risk of human error.
The bedrock of all of this is data – manage that correctly and many of the other problems are solved.
The smarter way to manage B‑BBEE data
A single software solution that can plug in to all existing systems, and automate and digitise as many data extraction, management, transfer and reporting functions as possible – that's what B‑BBEE data management actually requires. Using the right solution, personnel only need a light touch to put the data to work to execute their B‑BBEE tasks more accurately and easily, in as little time as possible.
"It is immensely powerful to have a solution that creates one dataset and one dashboard to satisfy the requirements of all the multiple systems in the B‑BBEE compliance journey."
Such a solution – for example, Mpowered’s BEEtoolkit – can distil everything into a central dashboard that can model and simplify the inherent complexity of the B‑BBEE data, in a way that matches an organisation’s strategic B‑BBEE aims. This in turn provides a tangible roadmap of what the company needs to do to achieve the desired level of B‑BBEE verification.
The solution must also solve the problem of a lack of consistency in interpretation as data flows from the internal HR and Procurement teams, through external consultants and on to verification agencies. In concrete terms this means streamlined electronic transfer of evidence for the verification agency, allowing the auditor to simply pull it off the system, scrutinise the data and recommend the samples that they need, which are sent back electronically to the company. HR then uploads the requested supporting documentation.
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The software expedites the whole process, cementing the link between quantitative data and supporting evidence throughout.
Crucially, the right solution will have to integrate into all legacy systems. Companies have multiple reporting requirements that all feed off the same data. Hence, the solution typically needs to interface with B‑BBEE scorecard calculation software, the Department of Labour's systems, SETA for work-based skills plans, and to the Y.E.S. programme administrators. It is immensely powerful to have a solution that creates one dataset and one dashboard to satisfy these multiple requirements.
Digitising and automating human manual processes enables complex reporting virtually at the touch of a button, consolidating data from multi-level structures and forever eradicating the multiple spreadsheet methodology.
It doesn't take much to imagine the impact of a software-driven BEE data world on the daily work life of HR or Procurement personnel.