PRASA Corporate Real Estate Solutions (CRES) is a new division of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). It was established in 2010, and runs the facilities management, real estate asset management and project and development management functions that were previously handled by the Group (PRASA)’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Intersite Property Management Services.
It states “Enriched travelling experiences through innovative property solutions”.
The mission is underpinned by three key intentions:
- Travelling Experience – Superior client service, in secure built and public space environments, that enriches, empowers and delights.
- Innovation – Original, imaginative, novel and unique responses to defined client needs and aspirations, . Property solutions – Provision of creative property responses and packages that add shareholder and stakeholder value.
- Accessibility – To help South Africans attain a better quality of life by offering them access to socio-economic opportunities.
- Mobility – To connect individuals and communities through an integrated network of routes
The business case
PRASA CRES’ collective responsibility, is to deliver on the mandate that constitutes its mission and vision and thus relies on its automated operation IT systems for the everyday running of the business in order to process payments, access information and reports on its property portfolio.
There are currently two systems that PRASA CRES utilises; SAP’s financial system for HR and Finance related operations, and the Manhattan Real Estate Asset System for the operation of its Property Portfolio.
Both these application systems reside in the Oracle database. If downtime is experienced with the database, business comes to a standstill, making uptime an imperative. The database supports the companies on a national scale including offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and East London.
In the past when Intersite Property management was still managing PRASA’s property portfolio, the subsidiary employed an in-house database administrator (DBA) to handle its Information Technology Communication (ICT) requirements. However, a strategic decision was taken to outsource this function in an effort to mitigate risk (there was too much reliance on a single person that fulfilled the role) and reduce costs as it didn’t necessarily require a full time resource. It would also eliminate the human resource (HR) issue of attracting and maintaining this specialist skill — especially Oracle skills — in a skills scarce environment.
Choosing the right partner
In 2005, Intersite released a tender to find the right outsource partner that could provide the necessary skills and demonstrate additional benefits such as cost reduction and excellent service to mention a few.
“It was in light of this that the DBA function was outsourced to RDB Consulting on a ad-hoc basis,” says Sandile Ndaba, Business Relationship Manager at PRASA ICT. “When we took the decision to outsource the DBA function, PRASA being a state owned entity, was required to request potential outsourcing proposals through a formal tender process before selecting a suitable out-source partner.
The selection criterion included finding a company that best mirrored our goals, values and objectives. We also required a partner that featured the necessarily skills and service levels that we needed. RDB was selected as the ideal partner as the company met all the requirements, showed an impressive track record, a sound BEE rating and an impeccable reputation. In
2006 RDB were awarded the contract and since then, has been a successful partner to the then Intersite and currently PRASA CRES. RDB Consulting has flourished in this role for the past six years.
In 2010, PRASA CRES realised they needed to upgrade their Oracle database from 9i to 10g as in order for the newer applications to work optimally with the database, a new version of the database needed replace the older version. RDB Consulting assisted with the upgrade installation of the software and configuration thereof. The migration of the data to the new database was handled by a third-party consultant.
Says Ndaba, “As a result of the upgrade, performance and stability were improved and in addition made a significant improvement in the time for these transactions to be processed resulting in faster access to information.”
With RDB’s transparent service and expertise, PRASA CRES has improved its operation with a robust database and support, allowing the company to perform optimally in a highly demanding business environment.
Going the outsourced route
“RDB provided us with a service and the necessary skills to manage our Oracle database proactively, minimising downtime and delivering maximum uptime with a swift response in the event of any issues,” says Ndaba. In addition, the excellent service has helped us to yield results, increase reliability, speed of accessing information, sharing of information and improve communication amongst employees. This has helped PRASA CRES to reach its goals and objectives more accurately and efficiently.