“Information Technology Has Allowed Me To Explore Creative Thinking”

Hailing from Inanda Township, north Durban, the 34-year-old information technologist Xolani Phakathi has not only made a name for himself; but he has also put his passion to good use in a quest to help save lives. Phakathi has designed a range of innovative computer programmes that are helping KwaZulu-Natal’s Health Department to save mine while notably enhancing its ability to deliver quality services to the people. He shared his life story with the Daily Vox.

I began my career as a teacher in 2003. Realising that this was not my calling, I took the necessary steps to achieve my milestones. I left for United Kingdom in 2004 where I studied and gained skills and knowledge in Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

I obtained a Diploma for IT Practitioner (Systems Support), an Advanced Diploma for IT Professionals (ICT Systems Support), BTech Higher National Diploma in Computer Science and a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic Business Information Technology at Coventry College.

My experience within ICT industry has given me a wide range of experience. I am a creative individual, working in ICT has allowed me to explore my creative thinking and take initiatives to showcase my innovative projects. By developing in-house systems of great calibre and save the public sector millions of rands that it would have to spend to procure off-the-shelf solutions. This reduces operational costs as it eliminate licence and maintenance fees that private contractors charge.

I have been involved with planning and conceptualisation and implementation of a number of IT-related innovative solutions for the department of health. Prior to 2016, the department did not have consolidated and electronic system in place for the accurate consolidation of procurement plans captured at the head office, district offices and institutions (hospitals).

The central supply chain management had been using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets thereby resulting in institutions or districts submitting their procurement plans via memory sticks because it could not be e-mailed due to size worksheet exceeding email quotas. This resulted in institutions driving to CSCM at the head office and as a result this was costly to the department.

The data received by CSCM varied from institution to institution, which made consolidation strenuous. The department did not have a consolidated data report to submit to the provincial treasury. Subsequently, CSCM approached IT requiring assistance with their Microsoft Excel format. I concluded that the Microsoft Excel format would be a short term solution which would later continue to give the Department hassles. Thus with the approval of CSCM and my supervisor I took the initiative of developing a web based E-Procurement Plan System.

The E-Procurement Plan System is a web based application through which authorised users or institutions are required to capture and submit their annual procurement plans. This provides a seamless transfer of data from institutions or districts to the CSCM because the information is in real time, meaning it is available as soon as it is captured.

It allows the accurate consolidation of procurement plans which have been captured at head office, districts and institutions. The system allows for reports to be exported to Ms Excel or e-mailed. The KwaZulu-Natal department of health is one of the departments in the province that now use the E-Procurement Plan System.

My advice to young people would be, to never give up, to pursue their dreams and always strive for excellence.  Always keep yourself relevant by keeping abreast of the latest developments in information technology. Be passionate about what you do, focused and determined to succeed. Deliver more than what customers expect. Understand your industry and keep your vision clear.

The interview was edited for clarity and brevity.

Featured image by Lizeka Maduna