IEC Election Performance From A Value Chain Execution Perspective

I was a few months too young to participate in the first democratic vote in 1994, so since then I have made it my duty to participate in every opportunity to cast my vote.

My recent experience with the municipal elections were not great as I was excluded through their technology hiccups.... or so I thought.

Listening to the interview on the radio, the day after the elections and hearing the feedback from the IEC, my Value Chain (Procurement, Demand, Supply Chain & Logistics) experience made me process what they communicated from a very different perspective, as I have spent much time on the receiving end of the issues they experienced.

If I could sum up the issues, they faced it would be these key important areas of Execution and Operational Strategy:

1. External Factors

COVID-19 safety protocols, load shedding, litigation and the pressure to carry out the project over a short period of time has clearly disrupted the focus of the IEC. The clear lack of a Plan B, C, D, E F etc. meant that the organisation had not thought through what could possibly go wrong. This is a key proponent in what we do within Value Chain.

Planning especially in high pressure situations and being flexible enough to change manage and communicate to stake holders while managing the project is key to the success of any organisation. Thinking on your feet is a key attribute of working in all Value Chain disciplines.

2. People

The IEC mentioned that their recruitment drive included time pressure for recruitment and found that the online training they provided had not adequately prepared officials for their task at hand.

In this day and age when social media is not so social, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics are all the rage, the key missing component is humanity. Most of us, myself included, if dealing with an issue around service would much rather talk to a human. Super car manufacturers charge exorbitant prices for their cars as they are 'Made by Hand'.

Bringing the right people with the right mindset and skillset into an organisation are key to its success. Allowing space for them to express their passions and getting recognition is priceless.

3. Process

I have been evangelical in my message around having great processes mapped before implementing any software. The IEC clearly had issues in this area as the processes were not only not mapped to the software solution, but they were not communicated effectively to the officials on the ground, resulting in many voters being turned away.

The over complication of their processes and the limited time period they had to execute created a great many challenges. This could have been simplified by having a manual backup process as I'm sure that many of us have experienced the frustrations of the 'Systems Offline' excuse we have had to deal with at various service centres.

4. Technology

Technology is only as brilliant as the process design behind it. The technology failures were key to most eligible voters missing out in participating in a process that is their constitutional right.

As a tech geek and someone who has held roles in IT Procurement, I am aware of the disconnect between what is specified vs what is really needed. In many instances we have found a Roll-Royce being specified where a Corolla was needed. Technical people always tend cut out procurement people as they see themselves as the subject matter experts. As much as most of us are not technical on the specific product, our superpowers lie in the governance, contracting, pricing and negotiation of the deal. We are looking at the deal from a more global outlook that just fulfilling the technical guy's need. We are like the Men-in-Black who do all the work in the background that is not seen or appreciated but must go up against the “angry alien” (irate supplier) when things go wrong.

I have been in the position that the IEC finds itself in currently and have found that being honest and transparent about the challenges you have faced is important and I applaud them for the communication they have done on various platforms. However, as an organisation governed by legislation you are not so easily forgiven for your errors, and I am certain that the political parties will make sure of that. As Procurement and Supply Chain professionals our work contributes to the success of an organisation especially in the areas of cost cutting and process efficiency.

Growthsmiths has a team of seasoned professionals who are eager to help solve the challenges you have in your Value Chain (Procurement, Demand, Supply Chain & Logistics).

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1 comment

  • Excellent analysis Kurt!

    Tania Knoetze

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