Diamond miner, Lucara Botswana, the 100% owner of the Karowe Diamond Mine asset, headquartered in Gaborone, has not allowed the COVID-19 pandemic to stand in the way of its important transformation programme.
As part of its expansion strategy, the company embarked on a technology transformation journey with Deloitte in February 2020. The programme included the implementation of the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system—a suite of integrated business applications with core business processes in finance, sourcing, procurement, manufacturing, sales, supply chain, plant maintenance and project systems.
Lucara operates the Karowe mine, close to the Lethlakane village, mining large, high-value diamonds. It employs approximately 550 permanent workers, approximately 1,100 contractors, and turns over $192.5 million per annum.In March, the Deloitte team travelled to Gaborone and Lethlakane to kick-start the project. The SAP S4/HANA Public Cloud implementation was to be completed within a tight, four-month deadline. Two weeks into the work the team travelled back to South Africa, just as the country announced the COVID-19 lockdown. These restrictions meant they could not go back to Botswana to finish the job.
In adapting to the situation, the team strategised and came up with a plan on how to complete the task under the unusual circumstances of COVID-19 restrictions. Deloitte proposed a Project Continuity Plan, which allowed for the team to deliver the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud Implementation project remotely from Johannesburg. The plan included innovative governance forums that were optimised, streamlined and replaced with shorter, more frequent, interventions and engagements.
This approach continued during the lifecycle of the project and proved very effective. Quick, short, turnarounds and regular playbacks were also incorporated to ensure requirements were met and gaps identified early on to speed up the work. “The Executive Leadership team at Lucara, including the MD and CFO, provided much needed executive level sponsorship, and demonstrated courage, resilience and agility, by allowing the combined Lucara and Deloitte implementation to deliver the first ever SAP Public Cloud implementation remotely at a mining client on the African continent,” said Jaco van Niekerk, Lucara Lead Client Director.
“The Covid-19 pandemic presented a rare but perfect opportunity for both Deloitte and Lucara to explore and adopt a virtual SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud implementation approach - using various Deloitte remote methods and tools, which allowed for the continuation and successful implementation of the project,” says Kevin Govender, Deloitte Africa ERP Leader, Enterprise Technology & Performance.
The Lucara and Deloitte teams were able to execute the project despite the difficulties and challenges of working remotely from another country. All major milestones were achieved remotely, from across borders.
“The Lucara SAP project has shown that delivering complex ERP projects remotely is indeed possible. Through the commitment and support of Lucara’s exco and other team members it was proven that with the right attitude, focus, delivery approaches and methodologies these kinds of projects can be delivered on time and on budget. As a Deloitte delivery team, we were challenged to re-visit various aspects of project delivery methods and learnt that client relationships and empathy go a long way in the absence of being able to engage face-to -face,” says Christiaan Barnardo, Project Manager Deloitte Africa.
The Lucara SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud Project went live on 2 July 2020, on time and on budget, via a streaming go-live activation event. The launch was attended by the Lucara Managing Director, Naseem Lahri, Project Sponsor, and various other stakeholders at the Karowe mine and Lucara head office in Gaborone, as well as Deloitte team members who connected remotely from locations in South Africa and Botswana.
“Lucara Botswana was required to be agile and responsive to the requirements of the organisation and its strategic objective during the pandemic. As a result of the dynamic team within Lucara, the decision to go ahead with the project in these uncertain times was an easy one. The teams of Deloitte and Lucara worked well together to ensure that the project was delivered successfully,” says Naseem Lahri, Managing Director at Lucara Botswana, “The success of this project was based on the clear collaboration of both teams and the ability to correct any anomalies immediately and move on to deliver an extremely successful project. Both teams worked extremely hard during these uncertain times to deliver the objective. This was as a direct result of their resilience, determination and commitment to make this work and understanding of the objective at hand.”