The importance of education is constantly highlighted by government as a means of enabling disadvantaged citizens to overcome their existing situations and achieve a better life. Therefore, it is no surprise that government fast tracked the establishment of the new Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape Province. Of course, a new institution of this nature requires an efficient administrative infrastructure to support its operations, which is why the university turned to Adapt IT.
Adapt IT will provide the university business process outsource (BPO) services using the ITS Integrator enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, using infrastructure owned and operated by the company itself. The physical and logical infrastructure will be managed by Adapt IT, meaning that the university will not have to invest in any capital infrastructure, but will instead pay for services rendered on a usage/subscription basis.
According to Louis Lötter, executive manager for business solutions, timetabling, training and development at Adapt IT, the company will execute a range of administrative roles on behalf of the university.
“We are providing assistance in four main areas, the first of which is student administration. This entails maintaining the academic offerings, recording student applications and ensuring the enrolment of admitted students, as well as maintenance of the academic record of the students,” he says.
“We will take care of human resources and payroll by maintaining full records of all employees, ensure that leave records are kept up to date, perform monthly payroll processes and assist with the generation of IRP5 forms at the correct time.”
From a finance perspective, Lötter points out that Adapt IT will seek to maintain student debtor records, process orders, invoices and generate payments for creditors, maintain cash books and perform electronic payment activities and perform monthly reconciliations of sub ledgers with the general ledger, as well as providing monthly financial information. In addition, it will assist with the financial year-end process and the preparation of the audit pack for the auditors. Finally, he adds, the company will take care of the university’s asset register, starting with the process required to build such a register.
According to Prof Yunus Ballim, Interim Head at Sol Plaatje University, the fact that it is a brand new educational institution meant that there was an absence of appropriate processes, infrastructure and staff during the start-up phase.
“We needed assistance with financial transaction recording, processing and oversight. This included assistance with accounting and reporting of financial activities at the university, for use by management, governance structures and auditors. Utilising Adapt IT’s services means that we are assured of proper control, reporting and management of the finances of the university,” he says.
“Sol Plaatje University is in the process of appointing staff and expects to begin registering students from January 2014. In terms of the agreements, Adapt IT will provide BPO services from October 2013 through to March 2015. We are well aware of Adapt IT’s extensive experience within the higher education sector, so making them our BPO service provider was the most logical choice.”
Lötter adds that the objective is to assist the university to become operational without an upfront investment in information technology or training in the use of an ERP system. Transactions, he says, will simply be recorded on source documents which will be used by Adapt IT to store it in electronic form in a database.
“The ITS Integrator system will run on servers that are hosted by Adapt IT. The key advantage here is that the institution can initially focus on its core activity of teaching, while at the same time developing its administrative capability over a period of time. Thanks to our services, they are nonetheless able to ensure good corporate governance in the interim development phase. Clearly, Sol Plaatje University sees this as the most cost effective way to become fully operational in a very short period of time,” he concludes.