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Interview with Chets Mukherjee, Operations Director at Software Technologies Limited

What is your assessment of the IT sector in Kenya? What are the latest trends?

The IT sector in Kenya is very diverse. It includes hardware, software, telecoms, etc. Increasingly, we have the fintech space that is taking off. There are a lot of fintech companies in Kenya and Nairobi has always been seen as the Silicon Savanna. People see us as this sort of hotbed for innovation in the region. We have a lot of tech incubators, some of which Software Technologies Limited helps incubate. We have hundreds of new ideas cropping up every day. The great thing about technology is that there is not a huge barrier to entry. Sometimes, you just need someone with a great idea and a laptop and they start writing their own code or they come up with a new mobile gateway or mobile payment platform. The tech space is thriving in Kenya and a lot of Kenyan companies have become benchmarks within Africa. I was recently in Ethiopia and everyone in the region compares themselves to Kenya. When you talk about M-PESA, mobile payments, software development in our space, Kenya really seems to be the benchmark for a lot of Africa to measure themselves against. It is a thriving sector and provided that the government keeps supporting the sector, there is a little bit of regulation but not too much so you do not kill the innovation aspects of it, then the sector will continue to thrive.

” We want to build Software Technologies into a pan-African brand where people recognize us for what we do. We want to go outside of Africa and have our solutions sold in Europe, North America and across Asia Pacific” – Chets Mukherjee, Operation Director, Software Technologies

What do you offer and what makes you different from the competition?

Software Technologies was founded in 1991, so we have been around a long time. We focus on three keys areas of software: people, processes, and governance. On the people side, we have our full HR human capital management system that is used by some of the largest corporates around Africa. We have our process management solutions around contract lifecycle management. Our final and probably best-selling solution on the governance platform is our eBoard platform. It basically helps customers manage what we consider governance risk and compliance. We help people run everything from their board meetings to their compliance issues to risk management across the enterprise. Over the last few years, we have had a very steady push towards what we call SAS, software as a service. Today, every eBoard customer is on SAS. eBoard has now been extended beyond the enterprise. We have recently put eBoard into the Kenyan Parliament. Every MP and senator is now running a version of eBoard called eParliament to essentially run all their legislation and manage all their papers. We have a training division as well called the Institute of Software Technologies which manages all our training requirements, both internally and for external clients.

What would you like to push more? What are the benefits for the clients?

On the governance side, out of the clients who come to us, many of them still run their board meetings manually on paper, etc. We try to change the way people think about governance and the way boards are run. Over the last few years, Directors now bear a lot more responsibility for the actions of their companies. Fifteen or twenty years ago, when things went wrong in a company, people would just point to the management and the CEO. Now, when you sit on a board, you have a legal responsibility for the actions of your business. It is no longer good enough to just turn around and say you did not know or were not aware because it is your job to know. More and more Directors are taking a more active view on compliance. There are different types of compliance. The first is regulatory compliance. If you are a bank in Kenya, you are regulated by the Central Bank. If you are listed on the Stock Exchange, you are regulated by the Capital Markets Authority or the Stock Exchange. Statutory compliance is where you have to comply with the Revenue Authority, Social Security, etc. You may have internal compliances that you wish to comply with yourself such as agreements with your internal shareholders or private equity funds that you have to comply with at certain dates and times. eBoard helps to bring all of this under one central repository and we help customers manage this. Your board meetings become a lot more efficient. We allow people to do things like approvals electronically and they can be tracked. All the board pacts and minutes you no longer print, so there is an environmental impact as well. We did studies with some of our clients where clients are saving on average 40-50,000 USD per year just in photocopying paper. It is nice to save the money, but of course, you are saving hundreds of trees along with that. A lot of our big corporate clients have an environmental policy. eBoard is also seen as a nice way of the board leading from the front. You stop printing and wasting all this paper and it makes the board more efficient and saves a lot of time.

What is your eParliament platform?

eParliament was deployed just a few months ago and it is really an extension of eBoard. We help manage all the paperwork that flows through Parliament. In the corporate world, we call it an “agenda”; they call it an “order paper”. It is essentially the same thing but a slightly different terminology. We call it “minutes of a meeting”; they call it “Hansard recordings”. We have “resolutions” at board level or corporate level; they have “bills” and “motions”. Of course, there are different workflows. A Parliament will have a first, second, and third reading of certain bills and motions before they get passed into law. So, we help track all that paper, and there is a lot of paperwork. Our Parliamentary system was actually presented by the Kenyan Parliament team in Europe this year. They found that in addition to all the monetary savings, they will save about 2,000 trees per year. Often, when people say you have saved one sheet or 1,000 sheets of paper, people are not able to quantify it. But when you tell people you have saved 2,000 trees, that is a small forest. The benefits kick in very quickly, such as the ability to retrieve historical information quickly. So, if I am debating something in Parliament today and I said it was related to something we debated last year or last quarter, you can find that information quickly. We are now in the process of rolling it out to some of the county governments. Kenya has 47 counties and all of them essentially mirror the structure of the National Assembly. We are confident that it will work lower down. We are also talking to some of the regional governments in Africa about them adopting this platform as well.

How international is your company? Is it easy to work with other governments or do they look more towards local suppliers rather than someone from out of country?

We have customers across anglophone Africa now. We have customers all the way down from Botswana right through to West Africa, NigeriaGhana, and almost everything in between. Over the last year or so, we have begun entering francophone Africa. There are different cultures and practices involved in francophone countries. We are building up our team and our skill sets. The products are now available in French. That is the easy thing to do. Supporting customers in French, implementing in French, training in French requires almost a whole new team. That is what we are building up right now over the next few years. In terms of doing business with governments across Africa, we work with partners in every country we go into. We work with local partners who have been established there for a while and who understand the local requirements. More than anything, they are able to offer local support. After we leave the ground, you do not want your customer halfway across Africa to have to pick up the phone and fly you out every time there is a problem. If you have good local partners that can offer that first line of support, it makes your end user or your customer feel much more secure.

Are you looking for partnerships?

We develop all of our own intellectual property so we are not re-sellers for any of the big vendors. One of the benefits of this is that it gives us real neutrality. When we recommend something to our clients and tell them to use a product or a solution, we have nothing to make from it. I am not getting a commission from Microsoft or SAP for recommending their products. We sometimes have to combine certain things, so if there is a project where there are severs required or certain operating systems required, we will then work with certain vendors to deliver a product that requires multiple components. We personally do not have a focus on selling third party products. We prefer to focus on our own intellectual property. Essentially, everything we sell is built by us. This gives us two benefits. We are masters of our own destiny. We control what we sell and we control the pricing. That has been our focus as a business. We want to keep the intellectual property in house as much as possible. We will outsource intellectual property if there are very specialized things we are doing around security or video conferencing that is now built into all our applications and we will use third party technology for that. We do try to embed that technology into our applications so the customer sees one product which is our product.

Are you looking for partnerships abroad? Do you want to attract investors?

There was a private equity fund that invested in Software Technologies Limited in October-November 2018. We have been with them about 9 months so they are relatively new in the company still. They injected a lot of capital into the business. We have a three-year plan with them so we cannot see ourselves raising more money in the next three years unless something drastic happens with the business. Things change so quickly in Africa. The situations are so liquid. If suddenly we do require more money, we would go back to the market and raise either venture capital money or we have the option of trying to list on the Stock Exchange, whether in Nairobi or somewhere else. Those options exist. A lot of the FDIs around Africa are willing to lend money and if it is for a specific project we are doing, that would also be an option.

What is your policy for CSR?

Much of our CSR is based around education. We have been strong believers that if you can train people and give them the skills to go forward and get jobs, that can be very beneficial. We partner with various NGOs, churches, and various projects. We help to train people using our Institute of Software Technologies, which is our training center. To date, we have trained over 3,000 underprivileged members of society such as those that are blind, deaf, mute. We have trained people with a range of disabilities and various disadvantaged groups of people. Our policy on this is focused on creating jobs. In Africa, one of the biggest challenges is getting aid. You are constantly relying on someone giving you a handout. If you can train a young person and help them get the skills they need to get a job and become productive members of society, they in turn create employment and it has a knock-on effect. The majority of our CSR is based around our free training program. We have recently partnered with the Kenya Forest Service who is also one of our clients. We recently planted 1,100 trees just last month. That was really reflective of each tree each of our clients saved using our governance platform in the last 12 months. We have pledged to plant another 2,000 next year. That is a constant push we are going forward with.

What is your vision for the company in two to three years’ time? What do you want to have achieved?

We want to build Software Technologies into a pan-African brand where people recognize us for what we do. We want to go outside of Africa and have our solutions sold in Europe, North America and across Asia Pacific. My personal vision for the business is to go beyond Africa and have Africa, and Nairobi especially, seen as more than just M-PESA because that is what a lot of people know Kenya for. There are a lot of other great software products and technology coming out of this part of the world.

On 13 June 2019, the East Africa Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) hosted the 5th Annual Private Equity in East Africa Conference at The Sheraton, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Centered on the theme Creating and Capturing Value through Private Investment, this year’s conference sought to probe the structure and role of funds in fulfilling the investment needs in the market, whilst diving into the barriers in the investment environment. With increased early stage investing in the region, the convening also hosted conversations on Scaling Access to Finance for early stage entrepreneurs in East Africa with a focus on trends, highlights and challenges unique to the ecosystem; plus additional dynamic sessions on the role of Mezzanine & Private Debt as sources of growth capital, investing in female-led businesses, value creation strategies & best practices for private equity in East Africa, technology, jobs & the future of work, and a-lot more.

The association was honored to be joined by key guests, H.E Dr. Eyob Tekalign Tolina,Ethiopia’s State Minister for Finance & Economic Development and H.E Abebe Abebayehu Chekol, Investment Commissioner at the Ethiopian Investment Commission.

Software Technologies was honoured to be a gold sponsor and our Operations Director, Mr. Chets Mukherjee, spoke about Good Corporate Governance in the Digital Age where he highlighted the different types of boards, importance of compliance and evaluations in a board and also automation of board processes for effective governance. This year’s conference marked the association’s fifth year of the renowned event, with over 250 from various sectors including; pension funds, commercial banks, private equity and venture capital funds, impact investors, high net worth investors, business owners, industry associations, government officials and regulators attending.

The National Assembly in March digitised its operations to complete the switch by the two Houses after Senate adopted an electronic platform last November.

The pair is now using an e-governance platform by local technology firm, Software Technologies Limited (STL), in a bid to cut on paper work and improve working speed.

Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) says adoption of the paperless platform has streamlined operations, increased speed and efficiencies as legislators can now get all documents on their iPads.

“It has increased the level of transparency, ease of accessing documents like bills, motions and order papers and generally, it is now easier to get information that would ordinarily take hours to sift through the millions of papers,” a source at PSC who did not want to be quoted said.

Legislators across both Houses can now view the Hansard, order papers, bills and the legislative calendar within a second through the STL-developed platform. Clerk of the National Assembly Michael Sialai had in April said that digitisation of the order paper alone will save the government at least Sh15 million annually in printing and photocopy costs.

“The amount we save is likely to go up once we fully integrate the system and use it in uploading all the information in the chamber,” Mr Sialai said.

The implementation incorporated a “Train the Trainer” concept. The training involved three phases with the first targeted at the ICT departments at both Houses.

The second was for House officials such as clerks, serjeant-at-arms and all staff who keep daily track of the vital information.

With 350 iPads for the National Assembly and 71 for the Senate, the government’s legislative arm embraced a move that is set to increase accountability.

“We have a server cluster in the PSC mirrored to a highly secured private cloud to maximise availability and security,” Chets Mukherjee the Operations Director at STL said.

With current conversations about climate change, deforestation, and the finite nature of natural resources, sustainability is on the minds of consumers, investors, and corporations.

But more than that, it’s also in our hands.

1.1 Hectares of Indigenous Trees

In an effort to help reforestation efforts in Kenya, Software Technologies Limited participated in a tree planting activity together with the Kenya Forest Service, Uplands CFA and the area Chief at Uplands Forest Station in Kiambu County where over 1.1 hectares of assorted indigenous trees were planted.

The Area Chief of the Uplands area highlighted that:

  1. Trees clean the air.
  2. Trees sequester around 20% of the carbon in the atmosphere (carbon contributes to climate change).
  3. Trees help clean the water. It actually is like a filter when there’s heavy rain. Trees absorb the water and release it gradually.
  4. Trees help with soil erosion.
  5. Trees have a social impact on it in terms of employment and life (1.6 billion people on this planet are somehow connected to forests for their livelihood).
  6. Trees are home to 80% of the world’s biodiversity (on land).

We lose about 46-58 thousand square miles of forest each year. Not for nothing—a large portion of those trees are turned into the products we buy and use every day. However, this would be unsustainable without active reforestation efforts, especially when you consider how long it takes for a tree to grow and mature.

“To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”
― Theodore Roosevelt

The annual AVCA Conference is the largest private equity gathering globally, attracting investors who collectively manage over US$1.5trn in assets. Over the past 16 years, the AVCA conference has become the most important forum for promoting, developing, and stimulating private investment in Africa. The conference continues to be a rallying beacon, shedding light on the vast opportunities available to global investors, and guiding the industry with informative research and thought leadership.

Starting in 2003 in Cameroon, AVCA has held conferences in Botswana, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia, with the goal of exposing investors to the diverse prospective investment markets across the continent.

The 16th Annual AVCA Conference was held in Nairobi, Kenya. Given its rising regional influence, Kenya is an increasingly attractive investment destination. AVCA’s data shows that Kenya is ranked the 2nd most attractive country for PE investments in Africa over the next three years.

As AVCA continued to showcase the fastest growing countries in the world to investors, Software Technologies was honoured to be sponsors with our Operations Director, Mr. Chets Mukherjee, speaking on a panel with Dean Alborough of OMAI, Hatim Ben Ahmed of Mediterranean Capital Partners and  Sandrine Henton of @EGF_Educate on exploring how ESG integration can be aligned with country-level SDGs.

In 1991, Jyoti Mukherjee opened an information and technology firm with her eyes set on developing patent software. This seemed a herculean task at the time, but looking back at the enterprise’s journey one would be correct to say hers was an idea worth every effort.  About two decades later, the company is forging a unique path, and giving the big boys in the sector a run for their money.

 

Software Technologies Limited (STL) started off with a capital base Sh300,000 and only two computers. However, over the years it has grown into company that develops original software and no longer sells third-party products.  “Everything we develop is our own intellectual property. We are basically able to adapt to the local challenges because it is our software,” Chets Mukherjee, the operations director and one of Jyoti’s children, told Enterprise.

 

STL mainly develops software in three core areas — human resource, people and governance. Chets says the company only develops software for the areas it has domain knowledge. Chets’ mother, a former chief executive officer of the company and a governance expert, laid the foundation for the three areas that has seen STL witness tremendous growth over the years and has remained strong and resilient in an environment where start-ups face a myriad of challenges with a good number of them shutting their doors before their fifth birthday.

 

The company currently has 100 staff — all Kenyans except one expatriate — who mostly train students in the firm’s educational subsidiary, Software Training Institute. Chets says that the lack of graduates with practical and up-to-date skills that form the core of any software developer compelled the company to establish the educational facility in 2004.  “We train students fresh from high school who mostly are unable to pursue their higher education.

 

The school provides us with ready talent pool,” he told Enterprise. The school trains between 200 and 300 students annually with the top five every year assured of employment at the Software Technologies Limited. Scores of others go on to join some of STL’s corporate clients and others have obtained opportunities in foreign companies, including those in the United States, UK, Germany and Australia.

 

Safaricom, the Kenya Pipeline Company, Equity, Commercial Bank of Africa, the Retirement Benefits Authority, the Energy Regulatory Commission and KenGen are some of the IT firm’s high-end clients. The firm recently developed its first e-board software in French targeting West Africa. This is part of the firm’s expansion plans which include set ting up an office in Mauritius to offer technical support and after-sales service to Cameroon and Ivory Coast among other nations it is targeting in the region.

 

Software Technologies has participated in Business Daily’s annual Top 100 competition for the last ten consecutive years. It was named category champion for the ICT sector at this year’s gala. The competition targets small and medium enterprises whose annual turnover is between Sh50 million and Sh1 billion. The founder of the software firm has a glittering track record of steering it into recording a number of milestones.  Amongst her notable achievements include winning the Top ICT businesswoman in Africa in 2007.

Software Technologies Ltd, Chief Executive, Jyoti Mukherjee was named a finalist for the Business Woman of the Year at All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA) 2018 in a gala dinner held at Movenpick Hotel, Nairobi on Thursday, 13th September 2018.

The All Africa Business Leaders Awards (AABLA™) in partnership with CNBC Africa honours remarkable leadership and salute game changers of business on the continent for their continuing commitment to excellence, developing best practices and innovative strategies.

Jyoti was among three other finalists from Kenya; Joanne Mwangi – PMS Group, Jane Mgige Kenya – Flower Council and Joyce Gikunda – Lintons Beauty, who were nominated for the Business Woman of the Year from East Africa Region.

The Business Woman of the Year nominees were vetted by judges based on exemplifying outstanding leadership in business. Other considerations in the vetting process include: achieving positive financial results, increased shareholder value and providing sound management, proven corporate governance, demonstrating innovation, best business practices and accountability, together with intangible qualities such as integrity and vision.

The award ceremony was dominated by Kenyans who took up half of the 24 slots available with finalists being picked from a range of industries. Among the Kenyans who made it to the finalists include Group, Barclays Bank CEO Jeremy Awori, Marini Naturals Founder and CEO Michelle Ntalami and Dr. Joyce Gikunda, Lintons Beauty founder.

 

The eBoard iPad use is very intuitive and learning to use eHorizon eBoard system is quite easy. Recently, our new Company Secretary was able to capture minutes using the eHorizon eBoard system without any formal training and for the first time; our board meeting minutes were ready immediately after the meeting. Samuel Karema, Information Services Assistant – KenGen

Kenya Electricity Generating Company Limited (KenGen) with an installed capacity of 1,631MW is the leading power producer in the Eastern Africa Region. Established in 1954, the company employs over 2,500 people and commands a market share of about 69%. The key to its survival has been the ability to change with the times. And doing that requires an effective governance approach.

The company has eleven board members, seven of who are non- executives and 5 board committees with 4 -5 members each. KenGen board meets physically at least eight times a year, including a board strategy conference while its committees meet quarterly or more often in accordance with the requirement of business. The board’s lineup of meetings calls for extensive information to be generated in advance.

The Challenge

KenGen old approach to board meeting materials was to create paper-based packs that could be quite large and then deliver them physically to each board member across the country. According to the Board Services Assistant, Afline Onyango“ that added up thousands of shillings in distribution cost annually, in addition, other staff cost and time spent in collating and copying each report.

The effort needed to produce board materials occupied as many as three people with photocopying, binding and collating – in what Judith Ndegwa, Board Services Officer referred to as “a nightmare process.” “We would have the boardroom booked for 4 – 5 days to spread the papers everywhere,” she adds. On the user side, the situation was equally unmanageable. Board packs ran up to 500 pages each. And when an exceptional issue arose, like approving a prospectus or reviewing an annual report that number doubled or even tripled so that reports at times ballooned to 800+ pages. Add in papers of average 130 pages for board committee sessions held alongside the board meeting, and directors often travelled with files full of paper.

Security was also an issue when it came to paper board packs. Sometimes the packs would be left with the secretaries of Directors. Disposing copies of older papers was challenging. “A few Directors would return them for shredding while majority stored them in their houses and the company would lose track of what happened to them,” explains Samuel Karema, Information Services Assistant at KenGen.

Approach

With the effort and expense of creating paper-based board packs mounting, KenGen began an extensive research into finding the most suitable solution able to meet their needs. They vetted several solutions from leading board software providers and settled for eHorizon eBoard. What board members liked most about eHorizon eBoard was the easy to use interface combined with a single view of all aspects of the Board from Minutes & Agendas through to Director Evaluation and Compliance as well as board calendar on their iPads dashboard.

Another top priority feature KenGen was evaluating was security. They were impressed by eHorizon eBoard security standards and extensive measures of data protection, control, availability, and application security that make sure that the integrity and confidentiality of the information is maintained.

The Results

eHorizon eBoard has made life easier for the board administrators. For Judith, the flexibility of eBoard is a heaven on earth. “So often, information arrives very late and we are in a rush. We used to stay in the office until 11.00 am to review and prepare information. Now, I receive information digitally and in the comfort of my home, I can upload and update the information available on an ongoing basis then share at the click of a button and directors will be notified.” What took up to 5 days, now takes minutes with the eBoard solution.

120 Days – Number of days saved in administrative work preparing board and committee meetings packs every year, in addition to the board going green; saving 6 trees annually from eliminating the printing of 53,617 pieces of paper board packs.

Whats more, Board members have their folders arranges by session and a date making it easier to refer to previous sessions, make enquiries into changes and keep more accurate records. In addition, eBoard allows collaboration and supports better decision making. Board members have at their fingertips, the most up-to-date information for current meetings and can also readily access an archive for key papers and minutes over the last years.

Further, “the iPad use is very intuitive and learning to use it is quite easy. Recently, our new Company Secretary was able to capture minutes using the eBoard system without any formal training and for the first time; our minutes were ready immediately after the board meeting,” explains Mr Karema.

It’s also a good reference point. “Recently I was searching a circular number for the year 2015 and it was so easy to find. I just typed the date and I found it in seconds” explains Judith.

For Karema, stability is the eBoard systems main asset. One time, Judith relates, they had trouble with the passwords of some of the board members who could not get access to their eBoard app on their iPads. Karema called IT support and “it was solved in less than 10 minutes.”

 

According to the bylaws of a company, board meeting notices have different protocols for how and when to be posted depending on the type of board meeting.

Giving notices of board meetings is crucial for effective governance as it enables board members to plan and prepare to attend the meetings and be productive. Serious consequences can arise if no notice is given for a meeting especially if important decisions are to be made during such meeting. Meeting attendees may fail to attend due to unawareness and may, therefore, dispute the decisions made during the meeting in their absence. Furthermore, notices of meetings act as written documentation that a meeting was called for.

According to the bylaws of a company, board meeting notices have different protocols for how and when to be posted depending on the type of board meeting. Some companies may choose to give notices electronically via emails or SMS. Whichever way the board meeting notice is disseminated, it should have all the important and correct information such as:

  • Name of the organization
  • Date of the meeting
  • Location of the meeting
  • Time of the meeting
  • The nature of the meeting
  • The preliminary agenda
  • Date of the notice

Companies should implement best practice drafting methods for notices of meeting. These include clearly communicating relevant information using simple and plain language and using a structure and layout that guarantees ease of understanding and readability by board members. Companies can provide board members with more secure and immediate access to notices and other board information by using the digital technologies of board portals designed to manage all aspects of board meetings and effective governance.

The notice of a meeting may be different in structure depending on the type of meeting such as regular meetings, annual, special or adjourned meetings.

Regular board meeting notice

Regular meetings are common in most organizations. The bylaws of the organization should clarify how the notices of regular meetings should be prepared and posted. In regular board meetings, board members discuss and vote on many issues. If voting is to take place in the meeting, it should be clearly stated in the notice.

Annual board meeting notice

There are many important activities that take place in an annual meeting like the election of new board members, making important decisions concerning the organization, reviewing reports and activities of the year, and making new resolutions. While writing the notice of an annual meeting, the agenda of the meeting and the minutes of the previous meeting should be attached to the notice.

Special board meeting notice

Special meetings always require prior notice since they are called for outside the regular meeting timetable. For a special meeting to be conducted, it has to be affirmed in the bylaws of an organization. To be safe, ensure your bylaws clearly state the time frame that the notice of a special meeting should be given. Since special meetings only occur when there is an urgent matter to be addressed before the next regular meeting, the special item should be included in the notice.

Adjourned meeting notice

An adjourned meeting takes place if a previous meeting ended without all the agendas being addressed due to a shortage of time. The adjourned meeting continues from where the previous meeting ended. The bylaws of an organization should guide on how and when the notice of an adjourned meeting should be disseminated.

Companies should endeavour in creating and sending notices of meetings to board members using technologies of privately hosted secure board portal such as eHorizon eBoard. eHorizon eBoard is a governance solution that simplifies the creation and sharing of notices to board members. A calendar feature allows board and committee members to view all approved notices of meetings. Directors can find any future meetings they are required to attend and in case of any change, they get an automatic notification through SMS. Further, the system provides a central repository of all meeting notices and other board documents for future reference. It eliminates printing saving companies thousands of papers and distribution costs.

 

“We like eBoard because it’s simple for me to create minutes from scratch or start from an existing board pack and have lists of attendees, dates and meeting topics added automatically to the minute’s template. It has made it easy to share documents at the click of a button and for the board members to always review the latest version of the documents,” Connie Ngachu – NTSA Legal Officer- Directorate of Legal Services.

BACKGROUND

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) is a statutory body of over 700 employees and 17 centres across Kenya established to bring about sanity on our roads. NTSA harmonizes the operations of the key road transport departments and helps in effectively managing the road transport sub-sector and minimizing loss of lives through road crashes. The organization’s 12 members governing board of directors 6 – 8 times annually while its four committees sit between 24 – 36 times every year.

NTSA has streamlined its operations and processes to ensure it works efficiently for the public. More than 32 directors, senior executives and administrative staff use over 105 separate meeting packs per month, some maintained daily. eHorizon eBoard solution supports NTSA’s executive communications platform, enabling more mobile, efficient access to information and timely decision-making.

THE CHALLENGE

Prior to making the digital switch to a board governance platform, the NTSA board administrators faced challenges in the process of collating and sharing materials for board meetings. Everything was going back and forth via email,” says Ms. Connie Ngachu, Legal Officer- Directorate of Legal Services NTSA.

“Our board books in the past were created as PDFs, but large email files would bounce yet some were urgent.  Further, there were often a lot of updates — sometimes at the last minute. That meant I had to email each updated PDF to the board directors who had difficulty keeping track of the latest version,” she adds.

Then the administrative team would print the meeting materials – averaging 700pages per board pack and 250pages for committee packs – and manually insert tab dividers and email or courier them to directors. “It was hectic. We spend a whole day printing and sometimes the machines would break down, so we issued a print notice in advance to other departments,” explains Ms. Ngachu.

Compounding the obstacles of using email and courier distribution of board materials, Connie had to deal with a paper-based storage system for sensitive board information such as records, contracts and other archives which was costly and cumbersome. “All of this wasn’t working. We simply wanted a secure way to manage the sharing of documents and somewhere to store historical documents.”

THE SOLUTION

While researching board governance platforms, NTSA learned that several executives and board directors had used eHorizon eBoard with great results. After evaluating other vendors and seeing STL’s eBoard demo, the choice was clear for NTSA.

“Implementing the eBoard solution was a simple and seamless experience,” says Connie. “The Directors found it intuitive and easy to use, and I personally logged into eBoard and started using it without any training.”

 THE BENEFITS

NTSA Board is now saving 104 hours of administrative work, over $1,563 of printing costs, in addition to saving 17 trees from paperless meetings every year, using eHorizon eBoard.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) have seen a variety of benefits since partnering with eHorizon eBoard. “We like eBoard because it’s simple for me to create minutes from scratch or start from an existing pack and have lists of attendees, dates and meeting topics added automatically to the minute’s template, ,” says Connie.

Whats more, “it’s easy to share documents at the click of a button and for the board members to always review the latest version of the documents,” she adds.

“Email notifications and SMS alerts sent to meeting attendees have eliminated follow up calls and blame from board members not receiving meeting materials,” she adds.

“It’s also easy to create a library of historical documents that Directors or board administrators can refer to for critical information necessary for governance if needed,” she adds.

Connie also notes the high level of customer support from the STL’s eBoard team. “The support provided by the eHorizon eBoard team is superior,” she says. “Questions from me or from my board members are answered immediately … even when we’ve asked them the same question countless times.”

With the new modules looks forward to continuing to partner with eBoard.

“Our board of directors loves eBoard. They receive email and SMS notifications when something is there, and they know where to find it. I also don’t have to worry or follow up if a Director received or not as I get automatic notifications upon receipt of the documents. Simple as that,” Connie says.

About the Author
Dorcas Karuana is the Marketing and Communication Manager at Software Technologies Ltd.

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