I was sitting on an exercise bike in gym on rainy day in Newlands thinking of all the administrative tasks I am in the process of grappling with. I have just sent FICA documents to my bank, I need to be RICA’d when I apply for a mobile phone upgrade, I have to renew my driver’s licence before August, and I have had to get my business POPI compliant (these are but a few of the burdensome chores facing me in the not-too-distant future). I also thought of the number of unsolicited emails I have to unsubscribe to and the annoying robocalls I will rush to ‘kill’.
Sitting on my stationary bike gave me time to reflect on the positives of POPI and how it could turn this additional “burden” to my benefit.
A few months ago, my colleague contacted me to let me know that Labourwise was already getting numerous requests for assistance for POPI compliance from our subscribers given that the POPIA comes into full force on 1 July 2021 and everyone including ourselves was following the national pastime of leaving things to the last minute. I felt relieved that he had already done a lot of work around the policies and communications, and we agreed that Labourwise Human Resources would be the ideal vehicle to assist clients with POPI, as we already provide consulting and assistance for B-BBEE, Skills Development Facilitation, Employment Equity, Payroll and Recruitment.
With the decision made to add POPI compliance to our service offering, we went about setting up a team who would be capable of providing this service. We soon established that the best method would be to deal directly with clients and conduct a Gap Analysis to determine their compliance with POPI. To kickstart the process I asked one of our consultants to use Labourwise as a guinea pig before launching our services to clients.
During the interview process it quickly became apparent that although we have always maintained client confidentiality, there were a number of inefficiencies and vulnerabilities in the transfer of information particularly with clients using different means of communication including email and a combination of file sharing services (e.g. Dropbox). Our employees and consultants also have different methods of saving documents. The result of this is that we are forever looking for documents (which I know are somewhere) or regurgitating the same information, which is exceptionally timewasting. From my experience, I know that a number of other small to medium sized companies are in the same boat as us as they cannot afford the expensive bespoke IT systems that large enterprises use.
The results and recommendations of our Gap Analysis have meant that we have begun reviewing our systems and methods for saving documents and have begun implementing policies and developing standard operating procedures which are not only POPI compliant but are way more streamlined. Having thought through these procedures it will be easier for us to train our employees, consultants and dare I say our clients in POPI compliance and the efficient handling of documentation. Although the process will evolve over time, I look forward to the day when I can find all the relevant documents I need in the correct folder on one system and will consequently have the time to go and sit in a queue to renew my driver’s licence.
Taking into account my own experience, I have made the decision to embrace POPI compliance rather than begrudge it and use it as an opportunity to rethink and streamline a number of our business processes. I also know that POPI compliance is not merely a tick-box exercise and will require regular attention far beyond the mere drafting of policies and procedures. I also know that the privacy of my own information is paramount, and I don’t want it falling into the wrong hands or being misused and maybe I can dream of the day where I don’t receive any robocalls or other unsolicited advertising or approaches from organisations who have obtained my information from unscrupulous sources.
My conclusion is that POPI is a positive thing and should be embraced.
PS. If you need assistance with POPIA compliance contact us