Monthly Archives: July 2016

India’s Campus Labs heads for TT100 again

The vast geographical distance between India and South Africa has not stopped Campus Labs, an Indian company based in Delhi NCR, from participating fully in the TT100 awards programme.

With two TT100 awards under its belt already, Campus Labs, specialising in academic, financial and administrative applications for the higher education market, is planning to take part for the third time in 2016.

“We look forward to it,” says Ashish Srivastava, CEO of Campus Labs, which entered the programme for the first time in 2014 – the same year that the TT100 was opened up to companies beyond South Africa’s borders.

In that year, Campus Labs won the management of innovation award in the category for emerging enterprises. In the following year, 2015, the company won the Minister’s Award for Sustainable Performance, also in the category for emerging enterprises.

“We enter because we believe the programme could be a good way to help build our profile in Africa, and because there are similarities in the higher education market in India and South Africa,” says Ashish, who heard about the TT100 through a business contact in Africa.

The awards Campus Labs has won have also been good for the company’s image in India. “Our clients are impressed that we have won international awards.”

TT100 participants from abroad receive exactly the same treatment as South African-based companies, except they interact with the adjudicators via videoconference instead of in person.

“The videoconference session with the adjudicators took a couple of hours and was very detailed. They had many questions for us and we had the opportunity to gain an African perspective on our business. It was a great experience.”



TT100 an opportunity to learn from the best, says X/procure

How often does a small business have the opportunity to learn directly from the best and most successful companies in the country across all industries? That’s relatively rare in the normal course of business. On the TT100 Awards Programme, it’s one of the benefits of participating, says JD Henderson, managing director of X/procure, a regular entrant since 2007.

“In the years when we didn’t win, we networked with the winners to find out what they were doing with their systems, people or technology that we weren’t. They were willing to share and we to listen, just as when we have won, we were willing to share,” says JD Henderson, managing director of X/procure.

Exposure to the best practices of top-performing small, medium and large companies in many different sectors has brought practical benefits to X/procure, whose electronic procurement software is now used by more than 65% of pharmacies in South Africa.

A simple but critical example of lessons taken to heart is the necessity of running failsafe systems that are fully redundant and comprehensively backed up so that clients restocking their pharmacies with medicines are never let down if one link or switch goes down.

“But what’s really amazing for us is that as we grow our technology platforms and stabilise our systems, we are expanding into other industries,” JD says. “We’re now expanding into liquor, where the supply chain is virtually the same as it is in pharmaceuticals.”

The inspiration for this expansion was none other than the TT100 programme. “While we were networking, we saw that these guys (winning companies) were diversifying, and we asked ourselves how we could do the same.”

Changing a weakness into a strength

However, the area where participating in the TT100 has been most valuable to X/procure, according to JD, is in the management of its people. “We identified that as a weakness,” he says. “Software developers and programmers are generally perceived to be introverts; they’re not really socially out there. So we wanted to know what others are doing to win in that category.”

The lessons X/procure brought home from its networking included introducing flexible working hours and leave, and innovative employee wellness initiatives. As a result, by 2015, the company had turned its perceived weakness in managing people into a strength: X/procure won the Management of People category in the small enterprises section of the TT100 in 2015.

Also in 2015, by the way, X/procure won the Management of Innovation category for small enterprises, the Minister’s Award for Sustainable Performance and the DST Director-General’s Award for Overall Excellence. And the company was a finalist in two other categories, the Management of Systems and the Management of Technology.

Interestingly, JD says X/procure has been invited to participate in other awards programmes but would rather stay with the TT100. “None of the others are as focused on our core business as the TT100. Nobody else has a model like the TIPS model. For us, it works.”

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Carol Varga at

How to be SMART and CLEAR in Planning

The art of planning can sometimes seem like a complicated and complex environment. Where does one begin with the planning phase? Which stakeholders should be involved? What objectives should be concluded and in what order should these be achieved?

Fortunately, there are some great techniques one can use in order to simplify the planning process and in fact, any task whether related to business or life in general.
These methods are utilised in project management and planning in order to establish the correct goals. One of these techniques is well-known in the business world and is articulated in the form of an easy-to-remember acronym.

SMART goals are:

Specific: Ensure that goals are clear, concise and detailed. The phrasing of the six ‘W’ questions become vital in making sure that the goals are specific.
Measurable: Goals should be able to be measured. This requires the phrasing of the ‘How’ question. How will this be achieved?
Attainable: Goals should be realistic and possible to achieve.
Relevant: Ensure that there is relevance in achieving these goals, as related to          the needs and long term strategy of the organisation.
Time-bound: There should be a defined starting point and ending point.
An additional tool that can be used in simplifying objectives and goals is to focus on being CLEAR. This approach is relatively new in the market and has been formulated to align with agile work environments that are now being seen in the business world.


Collaborative: Goals that encourage participation from employees and their teams provide a platform for different voices to be heard.
Limited: In addition to goals having a start and end point, they also need to be limited in terms of scope.
Emotional: Goals should be of the kind which promote a sense of passion and energy from stakeholders involved.
Appreciable: In this context, goals should be broken down into parts, in order to simplify and make sense of more complicated goals.
Refinable: Environments may change and the art of adapting and being agile is vital in achieving goals. Therefore, goals should be refined to ensure that the project is on the right course.
The success of an organisation is built on setting clear goals, those which are simple to follow, realistic in its approach and follows clearly defined scope and timelines.
Economy (2015) states “When you set a goal, whether in business, career, or life, it must be a clear and compelling statement–one that can be built out, embraced, and acted upon by every member of the team.

In conclusion, when initiating a plan, it is imperative to ensure that there is a clear road map. The road map should then have specific ‘stops’ which highlight the defined and specific goals.

Keep it SMART and keep it CLEAR!
Compiled by Storm Thomas: June 2016

Peter Economy. 2015. Forget SMART Goals — Try CLEAR Goals Instead. [ONLINE] Available at:
[Accessed 20 June 2016].
Smartsheet. 2016. Comprehensive Guide to the 5 Phases of Project Management. [ONLINE] Available at: 
[Accessed 20 June 2016].
Top Achievement. 2016. Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals. [ONLINE] Available at:

[Accessed 20 June 2016].

15 times and still counting: why Verirad keeps coming back

If Chris Adams of Verirad had a wall big enough, every square centimetre would be covered in the certificates the company has won during the 15 years it’s been entering the TT100 Awards Programme. Interestingly, the prospect of winning isn’t the only thing that keeps Verirad coming back again and again.

“In fact, the years we haven’t won or been a finalist have probably resulted in the most benefits,” says Chris, director of Verirad, specialists in health fund risk management and radiology and pathology spend management.

Those times have typically been when the adjudicators’ feedback has prompted them to make changes in the way Verirad does business.

“Two or three years ago, my partner and I, Paul Horn, were at a TT100 adjudication session and one of the adjudicators asked us why we needed a central office. We asked ourselves, ‘Why do we need a central office?’ and then we gave it up,” Chris recalls. “Now nearly everyone works virtually.”

It was an excellent decision. Productivity and morale are high and, as long as they get the job done, Verirad’s employees, most of them qualified radiographers and medical technologists, have the kind of work-life balance that most people only dream of.

As for Chris, working virtually “saves me a whole lot of stomach lining” from not having to commute through Johannesburg’s congested traffic.

He recalls another year when the adjudicators remarked on an apparent shortcoming at Verirad – how “pale’ and “male” it seemed to be.

“So the next year, Paul and I came back with seven or eight of our colleagues,” says Chris. “We ushered them into the adjudication room and then we left. We were a Management of People finalist that year.”

The insights of the adjudicators – who spend about two hours with every TT100 entrant – are one compelling reason why Verirad has entered every TT100 competition since 2002 (and plans to do so again in 2016). Another is the opportunity to be benchmarked against companies in other industries.

“It’s all very well to know how you compare in your own sphere,” says Chris. “It’s even better to understand how you are doing when compared to companies in financial services, energy, technology, etc. For example, if you are a South African company, do you just want to compare yourself to other South African companies, or do you want to benchmark yourself in a much bigger market?’

If all this wasn’t incentive enough to keep on entering the TT100 programme, yet another reason is that the annual entry process forces Verirad to do some introspection. “Once a year, we have to ask ourselves, ‘What have we done differently to impress the adjudication panel?’ That’s a great way to keep the pressure on ourselves to carry on being successful.”

Footnote: Since entering TT100 for the first time in 2002, first as an emerging business and then as a small company, Verirad has featured regularly as a category winner or finalist. Its TT100 awards include the 2015 HP Award for Excellence in the Management of Innovation, 2011 IDC Award for Management of Systems, 2009 PWC Award for Excellence in Management of people, 2012 JSE Award for Sustainable Excellence and a 2015 Minister’s Award for Sustainable Performance.