The Cost of Falling Behind in IT Upkeep – We Learn from SARS’ Mistakes!

13 Nov

Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane, head of SARS IT, has certainly made headlines recently, but it’s not for running a ship-shape department. In a recent SABC interview described as “disastrous” by the media, Mmamathe, provided incoherent responses to questions pertaining to the collapse of the SARS IT infrastructure.

Chances are good that you have seen the video that went viral on social media where Mmamathe says “please protect me from yourself”…which ironically is probably what she should have been doing for the SARS IT department: protect it from crumbling!

Not too sure of the details of SARS IT infrastructure collapse?

Many people aren’t. In fact, the media frenzy surrounding Mmamathe’s outrageous television interviews has stolen the limelight, when the real problem should be to focus on what can be done to rescue SARS’ IT system and the mammoth backlog that is being suffered as a result.

Read between the lines to pick out some of the information provided by Mmamathe, and you will discover that the real cost of the South African Revenue Service’s IT system rescue could be a whopping R 2.16 billion

Apparently, a budget of R377 million was initially requested to upgrade and maintain IT systems in 2017. While big, this is probably a reasonable figure considering that the SARS system had undergone no annual IT hardware upgrades or maintenance to digital infrastructure since 2014. No thanks to Tom Moyane who halted the SARS IT modernisation program when he was appointed in the same year.

Only R88 million was given. This, according to the head of SARS IT, is the reason for the collapse! Now, what could have cost the country R377 million may cost R2.16 billion. That is essentially what the crumbling IT system at SARS will rob the South African public of.

What’s Going to Cost so Much Money?

Much like any piece of equipment or technology, your IT system and infrastructure have to be maintained, upgraded and updated. In the instance of SARS, with no upgrades the eFiling system glitches or won’t run on many software programmes. In essence, browsers used such as Google and Chrome, or Adbobe reader have been updated while SARS eFiling remains antiquated!

To ensure that the programme runs efficiently, suffers no bugs/glitches, and is safe against the latest threats and risks a system such as eFiling needs constant upgrades and maintenance. A slow, outdated system only results in a massive backlog of processing too.

The fact of the matter is that with ongoing maintenance and upkeep, the cost of the system would not mount so exponentially.

And it’s no different for the average person on the street. This problem is not unique to large businesses and government departments like SARS. Business owners and private individuals need to ensure that they are always up to date with the latest IT infrastructure and systems and that they take advantage of upgrades as they become available. IT upkeep is as important as cybersecurity. Don’t be a victim like SARS!

Final Words on the Matter

“We have been allocated budget now. We are going to be looking at the [parts of the infrastructure] that are high risk across the country. Those are the ones that we are going to prioritise.” Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane

While Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane seems confident that the SARS IT issues will now be effectively addressed and solved, the nation waits with baited breath as another season of tax is filed away!

Is your IT infrastructure in ship-shape? If not, now is the time to start paying attention to it.

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