While remote working solutions, and the challenges of managing teams that are not office-based, has become a sudden reality for many organisations across sectors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, PBT Group South Africa has been able to continue supporting its clients remotely without skipping a beat.
“Our remote working strategy and capability started just over 10-years ago, in 2010, following the successful implementation of our first integrated data warehouse solution for a well-known South African mobile company,” says Ken Wood, CEO for PBT Group South Africa and Europe.
This solution, and two more successful data implementations for the same company, were deployed on-site, with teams living and working in country. However, with an explosion of data solution requirements and a demand to implement a standardised solution in 20 more countries throughout Africa and the Middle East, PBT Group innovatively looked at a remote working operation – and achieved great success.
“Our remote working capabilities really took off from there,” Wood says. “And we took on the task to master remote delivery as we worked across locations, successfully managing the various challenges different locations and remote working brought our way.”
Working remotely across so many geographies, and maintaining its high quality and client service standards, did present a rapid learning curve. Besides the expected challenges around speaking different languages, each country had its own unique circumstances, its own unique data, and sometimes unique in-country requirements.
In spite of the numerous hurdles, PBT Group South Africa was able to interpret and adapt to each operation’s specific requirements, and provide data analysis, solutions architecture, adaptive data modelling (which is core to a metadata-driven solution) and data engineering, testing, implementation and overall project management.
The company’s consultants worked remotely from 30 different locations and centres at any given time, adapting quickly to each unique set of circumstances and requirements and learning valuable lessons along the way. These lessons are being applied and adapted to new projects constantly, ensuring the company remains at the forefront of remote delivery – no matter the circumstance.
The Group’s remote working experience is certainly not limited to Africa and the Middle East. The company recently supplied data engineering, modelling, analysis and agile management skills for a leading manufacturer of convenience foods in the UK, to consolidate data resulting from the company’s acquisition growth. PBT Group sourced data from various siloed ERP, manufacturing, supplier and product management systems to build a consolidated corporate data mart.
The project was led by the Group’s European business subsidiary (launched in 2018) and supported by the South African business, through a very effective collaborative service model. The total team ranged from 18-30 people during the phases of the project, which not only demonstrated that working remotely is no barrier to delivering this kind of work but also showed the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of remote work.
The PBT Group team members that were pooled and involved in this project reside in a number of locations – including the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and South Africa – and worked collaboratively with the manufacturer’s onsite business and subject matter experts at their various manufacturing and IT facilities across the UK.
“The technology available now does make it easier to work remotely,” Wood says. “When we did our first remote project there was no such thing as Microsoft Teams. Nowadays, video conferencing and the ability to connect to remote servers in UK data centres and various cloud environments certainly make it a lot easier.”
Technological advances, combined with the quality of skills, minimal time difference and effective English communication, as well as PBT Group’s extensive experience in successful remote working, provided a solid foundation for this client to be prepared for the new ways of working during this COVID-19 crisis.
“We expect remote work to remain part of the new normal for conducting professional services in the data space well after the pandemic passes – not only because it’s so efficient, but also cost-effective and because people are so much more productive when they can control their own working environment,” Wood says. “We are not only well-versed in delivering this way, having tried and tested this model over the years, but we’re able to help our clients adapt as well.”
If you are looking to partner with Data Specialists who understand the need to turn data into a strategic business asset and who can adapt to the new normal of remote working today, and well into the future, look no further.