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Providing customer support in an age of POPI

Writer: Menwil Gordon, Support Manager at SYSPRO Africa

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Menwil Gordon, POPI
Menwil Gordon

When dealing with business software, technical problems and software issues are unfortunately unavoidable and do arise from time to time.

These software issues and technical problems can impact organisations and cause severe disruptions to their operations.

Due to the importance of business software today, these issues can lead to missed deadlines, production delays, and in the worst-case scenario, bring business operations to a complete halt.

This can have serious consequences, resulting in reputational damage to the customer and impact their bottom line.

Customer focus has and always will be core component of SYSPRO’s corporate culture and providing ongoing support to our customers and end-users is an essential part of our business.

Resolving these issues and providing a clear and simple solution that minimizes business interruption is vital, which is why our post-implementation ERP support remains a core part of our service offering.

Our support processes

Simply put, within our support process, we identify where the problem originated by understanding the environment and circumstances that caused the issue.

Reproducing experiments is one of the cornerstones of any scientific process, which is why we recreate the scenario that led to the issue.

Technically speaking, you can’t be sure you are fixing the problem unless you can run through the same steps, see the problem happen yourself, fix it, and then run through the same steps and make sure that the problem has been resolved. While this may seem like a tedious task, it is a crucial step in software testing and resolving software issues.

However, at times, this cannot be done without customer data. Although you have demo data to try and reproduce the issue, it is unfortunately not always as easy as that.

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Customer (live) data is mostly very different to demo data and therefore you can only reproduce errors. In order to fix a bug, our support analysts need to have access to the history of the program up until the point at which the bug manifested itself, along with other business data which may be highly confidential and extremely sensitive.

Handling customer data in compliance with POPIA

We’ve all heard about the POPI (Protection of Personal Information) Act, which came into full effect (barring a subset in terms of individual consent which was moved to the 1st of February 2022) on the 30th of June 2021. This ground-breaking act aims to strengthen how personal information is governed, used and stored by organisations.

According to the POPI Act, “A responsible party must secure the integrity and confidentiality of personal information in its possession or under its control by taking appropriate, reasonable technical and organisational measures.” Ultimately, when South African citizens and businesses entrust their data to an organisation, that organisation is responsible for protecting it.

It is therefore our responsibility to ensure that all information and data we collect and store is secure and managed correctly.

As a global organisation, data compliance is not a new phenomenon to us as operating across such a vast area requires us to comply with various regulations within each global region.

SYSPRO and your data

One of the key points of the new regulation is transparency for the data subjects. This means that businesses whose data we have collected are able to find out what we have collected, our intentions, who has access to the data and how long the data lives within our systems.

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At the start of the support process, we request all relevant customer data, accompanied by a non-disclosure agreement to provide further assurance to end-users that their data will only be used for support purposes.

As a POPIA compliant organisation, we ensure that all customer data is stored on-site in a secure environment that follows best business practices, such as authentication, access management and audit trails of all actions taken.

Once we have gathered all the data, it is then secured, and our support analysts take a hands-on approach, running simulations to reproduce the events that led to the software issue. Once the issue has been resolved, all departments who have handled the customer data will delete any and all traces, assuring end-users that their data has been handled responsibly and in compliance with the POPI Act.

A compliant ecosystem

As a highly partner-centric organisation, it is our responsibility to ensure that all partners within our ecosystem have conformed to the criteria and regulations which we uphold. Those who have met our standards, join SYSPRO PartnerUP, a leading partner programme consisting of ERP channel partners.

Those within the programme have full access to our Support Desk, consisting of SYSPRO experts dedicated to helping our customers quickly resolve issues should they arise.

Having access to the right support adds an incredible amount of post-purchase value to your ERP system, as a highly-skilled and POPIA compliant support team can be the difference between business continuity and disruption.

Ultimately, creating support relationships are based on trust that is earned and protecting end-user data has and always will be a priority for us at SYSPRO.

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End-user privacy is a responsibility that we fully embrace and see as a business requirement that is here to stay.

@TechEconomyNG connects past-present-emerging technological impacts on Businesses, People and Cities. All Correspondence to: [email protected]my.ng

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