Category "Blog Articles"

If you look at some of the fastest growing economies in Africa, what sets them apart is not just the performance of the large and listed corporations but the robust and vibrant SME presence. SMEs form one of the most influential business sectors in African countries and remain the biggest contributor in accelerating economic growth.

In Kenya for instance, Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) contribute to about 40% of the GDP. Additionally, SME’s also contribute massively to job creation – about 50% of new jobs created, according to a 2018 World Bank Report on High Growth Firms.

Another report by the Central Bank of Kenya also indicated that SME’s constitute 98% of all businesses in Kenya, further underscoring their importance.

Crucially, in spite of their vital role, 46% of SMEs shut down within a year of founding and subsequently 15% fail in their second year of operation. This high collapse rate remains a threat to the effective development and growth of SME’s and can be attributed to some of the major challenges facing SME’s including inadequate capital, lack of market access, lack of adopting new and emerging technologies, poor infrastructure, lack of skills, unfavourable regulations and lack of proper management.

These challenges notwithstanding, one critical enabling factor for enhancing the performance and sustainability of SMEs is corporate governance. Good corporate governance practices present SMEs with robust business processes and risk management strategies or mechanisms of responding to crises.  It similarly provides a clear-cut path of employing better management practices, effective oversight and control mechanisms.

Regardless of the stage of development SMEs are in, corporate governance lays the crucial framework to ensure transparency and accountability hence making them less prone to system risks and effectively making them more attractive to investors. SMEs seeking to attract investors can thus leverage on good governance track-record as a value proposition to secure funding.

1. Instituting Proper Rules, Policies and Procedures

For SMEs to run as efficiently as possible, business founders and owners of Small and Medium Enterprises need to be clear in their vision on how the business is to be run. This is crucial in defining the strategic direction, financial expectations, roles and responsibilities of management/members, as well as clear-cut systems of achieving the organization’s goals and objectives.

2. Separation between Management and Owners

Lack of competent managerial skills has been cited in many scholarly articles as one of the banes to the growth and development of SMEs. Corporate governance makes room for the introduction of external directors away from the business owner who bring with them diversity of skills hence improve best practice methods of running the business and improving profits.

3. Board of Directors

External board members not only bring diverse skills that in turn lead to better

management decisions but can also provide an important avenue of attracting funds or resources for growth. Whereas SMEs may not have the resources to acquire skilled directors, they can put in place boards through seeking volunteer directors, offering equity as director’s compensation or recruiting board consultants on need basis.

4. Transparency and Accountability

SMEs need to establish clear communication channels and ensure timely and accurate sharing of information about their activities. Information disclosure with internal and external stakeholders creates a consistent track record infuses confidence of possible investors paving the way for attracting funding from financial institutions. Additionally, this also helps in safeguarding from internal fraud and issues pertaining to ethical liability.

5. Succession Planning

This is crucial in minimizing “key-person “risk especially in the start-up stage where the business is largely dependent on the founder in the day-to-day running of the business.

6. Proper Financial Reporting

Majority of SMEs do not do proper accounting nor have implemented international financial reporting standards.  Financial reporting provides a comprehensive and accurate picture of organization operations. Timely financial statements are important for effective business management be it a large or small enterprise.

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ESG is a core strategic mandate and principle of the WFE and this year’s survey mapped exchange activities to the WFE’s Sustainability Principles for the first time. These principles, published in October 2018, state that exchanges will: work to educate participants in the exchange ecosystem about the importance of sustainability issues; promote the enhanced availability of investor relevant, decision-useful ESG information; actively engage with stakeholders to advance the sustainable finance agenda; provide markets and products that support the scaling-up of sustainable finance and reorientation of financial flows; and establish effective internal governance and operational processes and policies to support their sustainability efforts.

Successful integration and effective management of sustainability at a company requires having committed leadership, clear direction, and strategic influence—and none of this will happen without a robust governance structure. Sustainability governance helps a company implement sustainability strategy across the business, manage goal-setting and reporting processes, strengthen relations with external stakeholders, and ensure overall accountability.

The WFE sustainability survey captures the nature and extent of member engagement with Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) issues in both developed and emerging markets. By carrying out this survey on an annual basis, the WFE is also able to track the evolution of members’ engagement with ESG issues.

Four Considerations to Keep in Mind when Building Effective Governance Structures:

  • Commitment begins at the top. Reporting to the CEO or other key C-suite leadership can help demonstrate that a company is serious about sustainability.
  • Accountability must be established and communicated clearly. Accountability helps ensure that sustainability is integrated with other business goals. Including sustainability performance into the company’s annual goals and employee performance review and compensation processes may be helpful mechanisms.
  • Alignment between the structure and the business is imperative. Sustainability governance structures that align with and complement the existing business model and organizational structures can be more successful than creating redundant or competing structures.
  • Flexibility to adapt and build up on the sustainability program across business units and regions can advance the sustainability agenda. Allowing for some adaptation can help ensure the sustainability program’s relevance to a business unit’s own strategies or region’s local conditions. It also can generate employee engagement.

Is your business as efficient as you’d like it to be? No, take your time, really think about it… Are all the processes as streamlined as you would like them to be? If not, how can you be better?

Business Process Automation (BPA) is simply a defined way to eliminate manual, time consuming and costly tasks within an organization and replace them with automated processes that work faster while reducing redundancy in tasks and overall operating costs. They’re designed to provide companies with a competitive advantage, whether it’s finding ways to provide customers with services more efficiently, reducing order errors, or fixing billing and payment issues, among dozens of other examples.

Why is Business Process Automation great?

  • It allows companies to orchestrate, integrate, and automatically execute.
  • It centralizes your processes for the greatest amount of transparency, as it keeps the computing architecture intact. It coalesces the business functions that should logically be more integrated and spreads them out across the company.
  • It addresses your human-centric tasks and minimizes the need for personal interaction.

“To be strategic is to concentrate on what is important, on those few objectives that can give us a comparative advantage, on what is important to us rather than others, and to plan and execute the resulting plan with determination and steadfastness.”

Richard Koch

How do you go about it?

  • Examine your business strategy and look at the key areas that may need automation
  • Are the key aspects of your business all working in sync? If not, why?
  • Do a customer/product journey map and highlight the areas that may need improvement based on efficiency, speed, effectiveness and environmental consideration i.e how much paper is used?

Software Technologies Limited (STL) was founded in 1991, and has since grown to deliver Software Solutions and Services around Africa and the Middle East. STL develops its own software and focuses on solutions that address the management of people, processes and governance. Our cloud-based solutions have enabled companies of all sizes to access simple and effective systems that allow them to focus on their core business. Call us today at +254 709 609000 / +254 722 207450

“Brilliance and intelligence have no gender,” Jyoti Mukherjee, CEO and Founder, Software Technologies Limited

Information Technology is a hot sector, and it’s exciting to see more women getting involved. But let’s not count our chickens before they hatch. We still have a long way to go before we reach gender equality at the core of the industry, and the recent boom of “women in tech” might be misleading. Just as having a website doesn’t necessarily make your new company a “tech startup,” having a blog doesn’t necessarily make you a “woman in tech.”

Literature examining the impact of women in the workplace (specifically women collaborating on teams and in leadership roles) demonstrates the need for and impact of having more women in technology. Greater gender diversity in technology can impact businesses’ bottom lines, as research from Morgan Stanley indicated.

Calls for more female participation in the economy have grown louder, often based on political or cultural arguments founded on fairness. Yet, a persuasive argument for diversity and equality can also be anchored to the bottom line, where ensuring that more women are working and leading in the workplace is simply good business, especially for investors who not only care about the ethics, but also want returns.

But the fundamental building blocks of tech—the magic, if you will—come from the engineers who write code. They are the conductors in this symphony of 1s and 0s. Amber Reyngoudt, software engineer at Milk Inc., likened computer scientists to painters or sculptors: “We actually create something with our own hands and then say, ‘I made this.’

So why is it so important to have more female coders in the tech world? Reyngoudt’s respect for the power to create highlights one of the most compelling reasons: Inspiring a new generation of women to learn computer science empowers female entrepreneurs to come up with unique solutions to new problems. Additionally, as more and more industries step into the digital age, tech will imbue every part of our economy. Computer science is a growing field, one in which we desperately need more top talent. And one in which women can’t be left behind.

Although tech industry women like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and HP’s Meg Whitman deserve praise for their leadership, the tech world needs more coder role models like Google’s Marisa Mayer. Only then are we ever going to convince the next generation that computer science isn’t just for boys.

Implementing Gender Diversity in Technology

How can businesses attract more women in technology roles and leadership positions? That’s a challenging task, according to Gianna Scorsone, chief operations officer at staffing agency Mondo, but there are a few ways to enhance gender diversity in technology.

  • Focus on unconscious biases: Hiring and management practices can involve unfairness and biases that occur unconsciously. Left unchecked, they can create defensiveness for employees about the way things are. Companies should check job postings for gendered wording, and anything else that might send the wrong message.
  • Include women in the hiring process: Having women interview and hire people can remove bias in the process. Another benefit is that strong female representation can lead to female employees wanting to join that type of organization.
  • Expand work-life policies: Inflexible work arrangements disproportionately impacts women, with the most common example of childcare. The technology industry is becoming more comfortable with non-traditional work arrangements, and that can provide a relatively easy way to help attract increase the number of women in technology.
  •  No matter where you are in your professional development, or what technology-related field you’re in, we offer a broad range of support, programs and resources through our internship and employment opportunities. 

Companies do not exist in isolation but are constantly interacting with external parties including vendors, partners, regulatory bodies, customers, employees or competitors. Considering the complications of such relations, there emerges the need of a mechanism to govern relations and operations that companies are involved in.

As a result, most businesses use contracts to specify the terms, expectations or commitments to stakeholders and vice versa. Contracts form a central part of an organization’s functioning – ensuring that businesses and their stakeholders are adhering to the best practices and standards hence creating strategic relationships.

Given the importance of contracts for effective business performance, it is pivotal to have in place a process that will guide the entire lifecycle of contracts – from creation, negotiation, managing changes, approval, execution, monitoring adherence and obligations, analysis & review and renewal or termination of contract data. Contract management involves the process of methodically administering contracts to ensure financial and operational risks are minimized while maximizing stakeholder’s performance.

Logically, effective contract management drives business performance in organizations. At the same time, unstructured contract management processes lead to costly operational and financial risks.

What Constitutes Effective Contract Lifecycle Management?

Contract Management involves various phases and cycles which can guide the framework of a contract management approach.

The stages include; Initiating requests for a contract, Contract Authoring, Negotiating the Contact, Approving the Contract, Contract Execution, Obligation Management, Revisions and amendments, Auditing and reporting and Renewal/termination.

Much of contract management revolves around lifecycle management. Having a good grasp of the contract management process minimizes the amount of time spent in the administrative tasks while also mitigating risks in a business relationship.

Additionally, for your contract management approach to be more useful, businesses need to implement certain best practices that ease the process of administering contracts.

  • Centralized Storage for all Contracts

Have all your contracts in a centralized repository where you can access all your contracts instantly and that is accessible to all stakeholders. This ensures accurate arrangement & storage of contracts as well as tracking of different contracts, while also providing instant access& retrieval of contract information including terms and conditions, parties involved, approval status, renewals etc.

  • Real-time Collaboration throughout the Contract Lifecycle

The drafting or approval of contracts is often a tedious and time consuming task. One goal of a contract is to ensure each side represented obtains what they’re obligated to in the contract. Through collaboration and communication between different parties involved, a contract can produce terms that are representative of all stakeholders.

  • Facilitate Compliance throughout the Contract Lifecycle

Putting in place an effective contract management process helps in providing the ability to manage or avoid risks and compliance issues through ensuring adherence to regulatory/legal and corporate requirements.

Our Contract Lifecycle Management System enables you to Practise Effective Contract Lifecycle Management

Contracts are essential to your business requirements and thus need to be allocated resources accordingly. With so much at stake, an effective contract management system is equally vital to your business operations. By investing in contract management software, you can turn contract management into a strategic process by eliminating risks while also reducing the manual effort that goes into process management. Our Contract Lifecycle Management platform, eHorizon Mkataba is a secure cloud-based platform that completely automates your processes by allowing you effectively manage contract timelines, to collaborate on all your contracts in real time,  record your contracts’ experience, and ultimately bring uniformity to all your organization’s contracts.

In the process, we not only help your organization to reduce cost and minimize risks but also save a lot of time spent in manual contract administration. Sign up for a free demo today and see how it helps in organizing and managing your contracts.

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