In a deal worth R14.4m, JSE-listed CS Holdings, in partnership with Telkom, is to develop and implement an administration and financial management system for the Legal Aid Board, an independent statutory body that provides legal aid to SA citizens.

Telkom and CS Holdings recently concluded an alliance aimed at offering customers a complete solution with a single point of responsibility. The alliance is said to have added significantly to the two companiesâ⒬â"¢ service offerings, ensuring optimum operational delivery. The Legal Aid Board offers assistance in legal representation, as well as access to justice, necessary information and relevant resources, and ensures legal advice, accurate information and clear guidelines on the protection of human rights.

"The Legal Aid Board needed an efficient ICT system and infrastructure to enable it to offer informed legal counsel to citizens," says CS Holdings programme manager, Roy Kerr. "An integrated and fully functional ICT system became a critical factor in ensuring the organisationâ⒬â"¢s successful future operation, and a countrywide communications network infrastructure was needed to link its 60 nationally located Justice Centres to the head office in Johannesburg. "

"Each Justice Centre operates as a large legal firm, offering a one-stop service for criminal and civil cases, and also serving a number of courts," explains Legal Aid Board Finance and ICT executive, Kumaran Naidoo. "As legal representatives spend most of their time in court, we needed to use technology to simplify and speed up processes to allow our Justice Centre staff to spend their time effectively on service delivery. An integrated, online, real-time software solution was necessary to achieve this objective."

To this end, the Legal Aid Board has implemented a new wide area network (WAN) that connects all the Legal Aid Board’s Justice Centres to each other so that new business control systems, which include the new administrative and financial system, can be put in place.

The administrative and financial system, for which CS Holdings and Telkom are responsible, incorporates workflow (K2.NET), financial (Syspro) business intelligence (ProClarity) and document management modules (QuartzIT), all of which have been integrated into a single, comprehensive solution. "The fact that disparate products, which usually operate in isolation, have been seamlessly integrated to provide a virtually paperless workflow and document system makes it unique, specifically within the legal fraternity," says Kerr. "The new system will enable the Legal Aid Board to monitor standards and create uniform processes without centralising everything at head office and causing delays in decision-making, or relying on similarly cumbersome processes," he adds.

"Each Justice Centre will eventually be able to track the status of all the cases that it is handling, monitor its budgets, control expenditure and provide timeous on-line, real-time management information for decision making," adds Naidoo. "Additionally, staff members will be timeously and systematically managed in terms of case allocation, workflow and case progression. Being able to track the productivity levels of our attorneys will enable us to better manage our resources, while delivering an improved service to our clients." The system is scheduled to go live on 1 April 2004.

ICT World