City council dumps ‘costly’ billing system

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Harare City Council has dumped the highly criticised BIQ billing system, saying it is not delivering the functionality of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) to the city and was expensive to run and maintain.

This comes after the systems’ vendor locked the city out of the system for failure to pay new fees. The city has been using BIQ for its core business since 2006.

Council was unable to perform system administrative functions as well as implement council resolutions such as cleaning the BIQ data.

The city says the local BIQ agent, Group View Technology, was not adding much value to the City of Harare as its technical officers had limited BIQ technical skills and despite the system being at 92 percent implementation overall it was not offering much to departments who deliver services to ratepayers.

 

According to the recent minutes of the Audit Committee, audit manager Mr Archbald Nyamurova told councillors that the South African-based developer of the system remained as its sole proprietor and the city continued to incur significant time and financial costs as the developer and his associates were regularly consulted to offer technical support.

The constant engagement of the vendor required payment in forex in transport costs from South Africa.

“In terms of accuracy of data and current information, the BIQ could not generate a reliable trial balance. The inaccurate data negatively impacted management’s ability to make timeous and valuable decisions,” read the minutes.

“The committee noted with concern that users were unable to generate instant ad hoc reports on the BIQ system. An Enterprise Resource Planning was not saving City of Harare users much time in executing their tasks.”

Mr Nyamurova told councillors that the BIQ system which came at a total cost of US$363 000 annually, excluding the initial purchase price and the cost of customisation, was expensive to run.

He said currently and over the years, some business processes continued to be conducted outside of the BIQ system, either manually or in Excel spreadsheets.

“There were no time savings of efficiency enjoyed in the use of the system since it was mainly the financial functions that were operating.

“Council resolved that Town Clerk Eng Hosiah Chisango replaces the BIQ system with an ERP which offers seamless integration of modules that automate business processes in every division and department in council.

“Council resolved that the town clerk considers ERPs that are developed specifically for municipalities, including compatibility with international public sector accounting (IPSAS).

“Council resolved that the town clerk selects a municipal ERP that is compatible with existing hardware so as to optimise savings. (Council also resolved to) select a municipal ERP that required a minimum amount of customisation, including IPSASA compliance”

More: herald

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