Botswana Postal Services (BotswanaPost) wanted to support the national vision for greatly enhanced citizen services. But before it could offer new e-services, BotswanaPost needed to upgrade its entire IT infrastructure and turned to Microsoft
Services for help. In just 18 months, BotswanaPost created a strategy, deployed a private cloud infrastructure, upgraded core infrastructure software, and deployed new communications solutions. Throughout, Microsoft Services provided BotswanaPost IT staff
with strategy, consulting, support, and training. By working with Microsoft Services, BotswanaPost will be able to deliver e-government services sooner. It has also been able to upgrade the skills of its IT staff and help other employees be more productive.
As a bonus, BotswanaPost expects to greatly increase its revenues from new e-services.
Botswana Postal Services (BotswanaPost) is one of the oldest public services in Botswana, having been established in 1875 by the London Missionary Society. In those days, pairs of runners carried mail between various points from Bulawayo to Mafikeng.
Since Botswana’s independence in 1966, BotswanaPost has evolved to keep pace with the country’s needs and changing modes of communications. Today, BotswanaPost is headquartered in the capital city of Gaborone, operates 122 post offices across the country,
and employs just under 1,000 people.
||The local post office will be a hub of Botswana life, offering postal, financial, and Internet services.… It’s all possible thanks to our modern technology infrastructure and Microsoft Services.
| Pele Moleta
Chief Executive, BotswanaPost
In 2008, Botswana elected a new president, Ian Khama, who challenged Botswana’s national ministries to increase citizen empowerment through technology by 2016, the fiftieth anniversary of Botswana’s independence. Vision 2016 is Botswana’s national strategy
to propel its socioeconomic and political development and become a competitive and prosperous nation. Vision 2016 includes seven key goals, one of which is to become “an educated and informed nation” with higher IT literacy and better citizen access to government
services through e-government services.
BotswanaPost is one of the largest public institutions in the country and already has more contact with citizens than most government agencies. For example, it disburses pensions to about 200,000 citizens every month—more than a tenth of the population.
Also, Botswana has a relatively small population spread over an enormous area—2 million people in an area the size of Texas or France. With 122 post offices—a large number for the population size—BotswanaPost wanted to take advantage of this large field
infrastructure to do more for citizens.
Outdated IT Infrastructure
To fulfill its role in Vision 2016, BotswanaPost adopted an ‘Icon of Excellence’ strategy, with eight key objectives and initiatives. However, BotswanaPost knew that its existing IT infrastructure would not support this strategy. Its servers and PCs
were up to 10 years old, all of its software was outdated, and many programs were no longer supported by vendors.
Insufficient Management Tools
The IT staff had no remote management tools or policies in place with which to manage the infrastructure. “Our computers were not standardized or connected to central management systems,” says Ahmed Mangera, Head of IT and Security for BotswanaPost.
“We had nearly 20 IT staffers, most at headquarters and a handful in the field for on-site support. Our field staff spent all their time driving around doing reactive break-fix activities.”
Additionally, because the IT infrastructure was so old, the BotswanaPost network was under constant attack by malware (malicious software), which made computers unusable, compromised data security, and impaired employee productivity. The BotswanaPost data
center did not have sufficient physical protection as it was housed inside a standard office environment.
Poor Employee Productivity
Non-standardized PCs and applications affected employee productivity, too. Employees wasted time downloading translators to open documents in different versions of Microsoft Office. BotswanaPost had no collaboration tools, so employees constantly picked
up the phone to verify data and processes. Working remotely was nearly impossible, and it was challenging to support branch offices.
The technology problems at BotswanaPost were so big and far-ranging that management knew it would need outside help to achieve its Icon of Excellence goals in a reasonable timeframe. The BotswanaPost IT staff began discussions with Microsoft Services,
which had a growing presence in Botswana.
“We recognized that Microsoft was an industry leader, and in Botswana there are several members of the Microsoft Partner Network,” Mangera says. “However, many of these partners specialize in certain areas, and we were looking for someone who could help
with everything—infrastructure, communication and collaboration, and support. We would have to engage with a number of partners to get all the help we needed. By engaging Microsoft Services, we could deal with Microsoft directly, and they could manage any
partners needed. We were reassured that Microsoft Services has a good implementation record worldwide; they could tap into a knowledge base far larger than our geographic area.”
Define Strategy for Achieving Vision 2016
BotswanaPost began by engaging the architecture and planning team in Microsoft Services for strategic help, looking at what employees needed to accomplish from a business perspective and designing an IT architecture to deliver those capabilities. “We
knew that we needed to standardize and modernize our infrastructure, but we needed a team with enough experience to validate our ideas,” Mangera says.
||Our computers were not standardized or connected to central management systems.
| Ahmed Mangera
Head of IT and Security, BotswanaPost
BotswanaPost started its strategic planning with Microsoft Services in January 2010, and one month later it had a vision/scope document. The scope document detailed the hardware and software needed, the kind of data center required to house it, and how BotswanaPost
would need to change its IT staff’s habits and even the larger organizational culture to adapt to these changes.
“Microsoft Services was not just a technology implementer but a trusted advisor,” says Pele Moleta, Chief Executive of BotswanaPost. “Microsoft helped us develop an IT strategy that directly reflected our business strategy requirements. It also mapped the
maturity of our organization with other postal agencies globally to help us realize where we are and where we needed to be.”
BotswanaPost and Microsoft Services then moved into the planning and design phase. BotswanaPost asked Microsoft Services to help write the hardware requests for proposals (RFPs) and also to help evaluate the proposals. The hardware procurement process took
about eight weeks.
Deploy Hardware and Core Infrastructure
With a clear strategic roadmap in hand, BotswanaPost then engaged Microsoft Services architects to help it implement the plan. “We could either build on what we had or use a greenfield approach and build our ideal infrastructure from scratch. We chose
the latter,” says Thato Kewakae, Manager of Special Projects at BotswanaPost. “Most of the changes were transformational, and our staff had anxiety about stepping outside their comfort zone. Microsoft provided workshops for our staff to help us understand
the changes and also provided steady knowledge transfer throughout the engagement. We also had our vision/scope document in front of us at all times, which helped us stay motivated through the change process.”
Once the new servers, desktop computers, and network components arrived, BotswanaPost and Microsoft Services architects and consultants created a private cloud environment using the Windows Server 2008 R2 operating system and Hyper-V technology. It used
the Active Directory Domain Services in Windows Server 2008 R2 to create a new directory service that simplifies access to applications while tightening security.
The team deployed Microsoft Forefront Endpoint Protection 2010 to gain desktop management and security through a single console. The IT staff can centrally set security policies that safeguard employee access to files, and Microsoft Services deployed Active
Directory Rights Management Services to help ensure that data was stored and transmitted securely.
To streamline the work of managing the IT infrastructure, Microsoft Services recommended Microsoft System Center solutions so that IT staff could centrally manage, monitor, and back up data throughout the postal system. BotswanaPost also uses Microsoft System
Center Configuration Manager 2007 R2 to improve power management in its PCs, since reliable power is currently a problem in Botswana.
Microsoft Services also helped BotswanaPost take advantage of high-availability features in Windows Server 2008 R2 and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 data management software to help meet its uptime requirements for critical systems. These features include failover
clustering, network load balancing, Volume Shadow Copy Service, and backup and recovery.
BotswanaPost licensed all of its Microsoft software using a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement for Government, which is a comprehensive Microsoft Volume Licensing agreement for government organizations that want to standardize on the latest Microsoft technology.
The Enterprise Agreement simplifies license management, provides predictable software costs, and includes Software Assurance, which provides software upgrades, deployment planning services, 24-hours-a day, seven-days-a-week phone and web support, and end-user
Upgrade Branch Infrastructure
With a virtualized core infrastructure in place, including a solid security infrastructure and tools for automated management, BotswanaPost and Microsoft Services turned to optimizing the branch infrastructure. BotswanaPost deployed new virtualized servers
in larger post offices and began an organizationwide upgrade to the Windows 7 Enterprise operating system and Microsoft Office Professional 2010.
Post office employees will be able to use the DirectAccess feature in Windows 7 to securely access corporate resources without connecting to a virtual private network (VPN).
Migrate Existing Applications
BotswanaPost is still upgrading desktop computers to Windows 7. Many of its line-of-business applications run without change under Windows 7.
||Microsoft Services was not just a technology implementer but a trusted advisor.
| Pele Moleta
Chief Executive, BotswanaPost
When the new data center was ready, in September 2011, Microsoft Services deployed the new services and ran them alongside the older applications. One by one, BotswanaPost went live with the new servers and applications, while the business continued to operate
without interruption and employees often never realizing that an infrastructure change had taken place.
Deploy New Communications and Collaboration Solutions
In addition to migrating existing applications to the new infrastructure, Microsoft Services consultants helped BotswanaPost deploy several new applications, notably Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, and Microsoft Lync
Server 2010. With these applications, BotswanaPost employees have a modern communications and collaboration toolset that they can use for collaborating, email messaging, instant messaging, and video conferencing.
Microsoft Services helped BotswanaPost create a Customer Immersion Experience lab at BotswanaPost where employees could try out the new programs. “The demo lab really helped ignite excitement around these new capabilities,” Mangera says. “It helped us gain
acceptance for the new programs from both employees and senior management.”
BotswanaPost also used a train-the-trainer model to train key representatives from each department and have them teach others. Microsoft Services also provided a wealth of web-based training materials that employees could use to learn the new tools at their
Support Ongoing Operational Excellence
BotswanaPost purchased a Microsoft Services Premier Support agreement to support the IT staff as it developed its operational maturity and transferred knowledge to the BotswanaPost staff. “As an organization, we were coming from a very rudimentary level,”
Kewakae says. “We needed a lot of hand-holding, and Premier Support offered that. We also gained many value-added services and Microsoft resources.”
Adds Mangera, “We are using Premier Support in two ways: to resolve support issues quickly and to help us set up our operational framework to best practices. We used ITIL [Information Technology Infrastructure Library] and MOF [Microsoft Operations Framework]
to structure our environment, and Premier Support helped us implement these methodologies and move from thinking of ourselves as just a support structure to understanding how to engage with and serve the business units.”
Deploying all the new infrastructure elements at BotswanaPost involved about six months of work spread over one year because of administrative delays. The new server and application infrastructure has been running since October 2011. Desktop PCs are currently
being migrated, and BotswanaPost expects to complete the entire infrastructure upgrade by spring 2012.
By engaging with Microsoft Services, BotswanaPost was able to create a foundation for achieving its Icon of Excellence vision in less than a year. Today it has a highly secure, highly available infrastructure that makes it easier for the IT staff and
other BotswanaPost employees to be more efficient and productive. The organization is eager to begin deploying new services that it expects will improve services for Botswana citizens and enable faster revenue growth.
Faster Achievement of E-Government Vision
With the assistance it gained from Microsoft Services, it took BotswanaPost only 18 months to build the technology foundation it needs to achieve its Icon of Excellence vision and deliver new e-government services to Botswana citizens. “The local post
office will be a hub of Botswana life, offering postal, financial, and Internet services,” Moleta says. ”We want to offer automated teller machines, PCs with Internet access, and also wireless Internet access. It’s all possible, thanks to our modern technology
infrastructure and Microsoft Services.”
Single-Point Access to Broad Expertise
BotswanaPost also gained access to a broad range of expertise in a number of critical areas, such as security and high availability, by using Microsoft Services.
||Microsoft provided workshops for our staff to help us understand the changes and also provided steady knowledge transfer throughout the engagement.
| Thato Kewakae
Manager of Projects, BotswanaPost
By working with Microsoft security experts, BotswanaPost was able to ensure that data stored on client computers is protected against possible data loss and the organization’s networks are secure to protect data in transit. Additionally, employees working from
remote locations can securely access applications and data running on the corporate network with no fear of security compromise.
BotswanaPost systems are also more available thanks to Microsoft Services input. “Microsoft Services helped us build redundancy and high availability into our infrastructure, and we will soon have a disaster recovery site to provide even greater redundancy,”
Mangera says. “There is a lot of resilience that prevents catastrophic failures. We can now confidently deliver Internet postal, financial, and other services around the clock.”
Greater IT Efficiency Through Knowledge Transfer
Through its work with Microsoft Services, BotswanaPost was able to transform applications into centrally managed virtual services, lower the cost of application deployment, eliminate application conflicts and reboots, reduce the number of software images
to expedite PC provisioning, and increase IT staff productivity.
“With our new infrastructure and the training our staff received from Microsoft Services, we anticipate being able to move people away from the current reactive mentality to adding more value, and helping the business develop new products and services,”
Mangera says. “With the help of Microsoft Services, we’ve changed the structure of the IT department to be more solution-focused.“
For example, instead of having IT technicians drive around the country replacing PC parts, Microsoft Services recommended a policy that if a technician can’t fix a remote PC problem over the phone within 30 minutes, the IT staff simply ships the employee
a new PC, which is far more efficient and cost-effective.
Improved Employee Productivity
With Lync Server and SharePoint Server, BotswanaPost employees can work more effectively. “In Botswana culture, communities have a meeting spot, called a kgotla, where people come together to share,” says Kewakae. “SharePoint Server will provide kgotla
for BotswanaPost. It presents a huge opportunity for us to share information as an organization.”
Using the voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capability of Lync Server will save money for BotswanaPost, since there is a charge for even local phone calls in Botswana. BotswanaPost branch managers currently meet regularly in person to discuss operational
issues, requiring that they be out of the office for most of the day. With Lync Server, they will be able to stay in their offices and confer via video or voice conferencing.
||Premier Support helped us implement [new] methodologies and move from thinking of ourselves as just a support structure to understanding how to engage with and serve the business units.
| Ahmed Mangera
Head of IT and Security, BotswanaPost
Lync Server will also help BotswanaPost departments distribute information on new products and services; instead of sending information through the mail or giving personal presentations, departments can schedule Lync Server video conferences to present the
information. Employees’ productivity is also enhanced from the new ability to access data from any corporate domain-connected computer and from their portable computers at home.
Dramatic Increase in Revenue from New Services
BotswanaPost expects to realize a significant savings from virtualizing its infrastructure, reducing power and cooling costs, reducing telephony charges, eliminating malware-related downtime, and improving IT staff productivity. But the organization
believes that its greatest return on investment will be introducing services that simply were not possible before—and generating new revenues from them.
“We expect our revenues to reach a half-billion Pula [US$66.5 million] by 2014 from new e-services made possible from our new infrastructure,” Moleta says. “We can move from being just a mail pusher to being a comprehensive service provider.”
Adds Mangera, “We are just in phase one, building the platform on which to build our future. We want to move into many new areas such as business intelligence, customer relationship management, and POS [point of sale] upgrade, all of which we can deliver
now that we have a stable platform. When we look at where we want to go and how fast we want to get there, there’s no way we could have moved so quickly without the help of Microsoft Services. Microsoft Services is not just on the ground briefly and then gone;
they continue to work alongside us and help us grow. Since this project began, we’ve received a great deal of attention from other parties as an IT innovator, and a lot of the attention and respect comes from seeing that we are working with Microsoft.”
Microsoft Services is a global team of professionals who are dedicated to helping customers maximize the value of their investment in Microsoft software. Microsoft Services touches customers more than 715 million times a year, helping them plan, deploy, support
and optimize our technologies. They also work closely with Microsoft Partners by sharing their technological expertise and product knowledge on a regular basis.
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For More Information
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For more information about Botswana Postal Services, call (267) 368 1000 or visit the website at: