Baseline data for Integrated systems management in the department of JusticeS&T has a long-standing relationship with the e-Justice programme, and we were approached to help gather qualitative data from senior managers for the ISM, the unit that provides strategic management services to e-Justice. S&T partner Nobayethi Dube ran the project, which she describes here.Introduction
The Department of Justice (DoJ) is in the midst of implementing the
e-Justice programme, which aims to thoroughly modernise the judicial process
in South Africa through appropriate technology. This programme - a cornerstone
of the broader South African transformation - is made up of four projects,
namely the Court Process System (CPS), Financial Administration System
(FAS), Digital Nervous System (DNS) and Management of Information System
At the heart of the programme lies the Information Systems Management
(ISM), which supports all the other projects through the provision of
infrastructure and broader strategic management. The ISM itself comprises
two units, Strategic Management and Systems Management & Optimisation.
The ISM appointed Ms Kalyani Pillay as General Manager: Systems Optimization
in February this year. Buffeted by demands and requests for support, she
in turn commissioned S&T to conduct a fast turn-around research project
geared to providing strategic baseline data needed to prioritise tasks
and develop a rational and measurable approach to the work of the ISM
and her unit in particular.
S&T used qualitative methods (in the form of in-depth interviews).
Interviews were conducted with members of the ISM, Project Heads, and
Managing Directors. In total fifteen face to face in-depth interviews
were conducted. Interviews were recorded and later transcribed and analysed.
The ISM itself
The ISM is a new unit in the DoJ, tasked with transforming DoJ from
a paper-based to an automated department. Respondents felt that the ISM
faced a huge challenge in that it has to change peoples' mind-set. People
in the department are used to a manual system and fear change. Respondents
also believe that the ISM should carry out public relations functions
for the Department. Overall, it was felt that the ISM is a crucial component
of the DoJ that can provide the DoJ with a competitive advantage in the
Because the ISM is a new unit, it lacks capacity (at the time of the
fieldwork appointments were being made). Respondents told us that the
current ISM staff had good strategic skills, a very positive advantage
for the Department. Respondents argued that because the ISM is such an
important unit, it required the following skills:
- Strategic planning,
- Analytic and evaluative capacity,
- Understanding of maintenance needs, and
- Excellent interpersonal skills.
Among the major problems mentioned by respondents was that of financial
constraints. Respondents mentioned that the ISM had limited resources
with which to respond to unlimited needs. In light of their financial
constraints, respondents agreed with the ISM that it has to prioritise
and has to be honest about what it can and cannot deliver to business
Communication emerged as a key function of the ISM, in raising its own
profile, explaining what it can and cannot do for business units, and
helping everyone understand how e-Justice functions.
The project showed how the business units regard the ISM as a vital
component of the programme. There is a great deal of goodwill towards
the ISM, which must be nurtured. Finally, the baseline data must be regularly
updated in order to measure ISM progress against priorities identified
In the past year Matthew, with help from Jowie, participated in two higher
education studies commissioned by CHET. Both explored the challenges facing
institutions as they bring themselves in line with the vision of the Minister
of Education. Both studies have just been published by CHET. The first
book explains the transformation of two institutions - the University
of Port Elizabeth and Peninsula Technikon. The second focuses on all higher
education institutions in the Eastern Cape, to assist them with the merger
proposals made by the Ministry of Education.