Communication across corporate boundaries is necessary, so why has anyone not developed a common language? A local crowd is addressing the issue.
Lumus, a cross industry development initiative, which launched earlier this year, has used a unique assessment standard and IT system to add sustainability to black economic empowerment, supply chain management and company development. The Lumus IT tool is built on an open source software platform that allows matching of suppliers and buyers to find the best fit in terms of supply risk and cost effectiveness. The assessment standard includes review of a range of performance areas based on a balanced scorecard. This rating is reflected as a maturity against world class standards.
It is proving useful for small suppliers, particularly emerging black companies, because it provides them with the means to identify their own development gaps and how to address these to gain additional business from a particular supplier. It also provides a strong marketing tool allowing suppliers to narrowly target potential buyers for their products - whilst giving them full visibility on the buyer's requirements and what areas in their company need to be developed in order to meet those requirements.
The department of trade and industry's (dti) BEE unit views Lumus as one of the most comprehensive BEE solutions currently available on a national level. "Projects like this further our aim to develop BEE as part of industry development and not at the expense of industry development," says the dti's Madile Mofammere.
The opening up of SA's economy to the rest of the world has increased the need for more visibility in order to make informed trading decisions. Lumus, which is Latin for light or visibility, focuses on this with the development and implementation of the assessment standard (The Lumus Standard) and the IT system, thereby exposing buyers and suppliers to a myriad of potential trading relationships locally and eventually internationally.
At the core of Lumus is The Lumus Standard. The IT system enables The Lumus Standard and provides a reliable knowledgebase of companies which can be assessed by other users of the products and services. The IT platform is based on open source software and is Internet-based. The main business issues that received focus, in the development of the IT system, are speed, reliability, ease of use, stability, access control, confidentiality of information and the ability to handle large amounts of data.
Open source systems are more standards-driven and easier to engineer. Furthermore, the Lumus development team believes that open source is extremely mature and stable. Using open source software allowed Lumus to go to market in less than half the amount of time it would have taken with a traditional solution. Lumus is not a website, it is an Internet application that allows the Lumus community to interact with one another and achieve the goals that Lumus set out to accomplish.