ServiceNow and channel partner FlyForm worked with Ndlovu Care to understand how teams operate, their challenges without Internet, data to be captured, and implemented the Now Platform.
When Dr Hugo Tempelman arrived in the South African province of Limpopo in 1994, he had a burning desire to use his medical skills to improve the health and life prospects of local people in its many remote, rural communities. It was a challenge on an epic scale, in a region with few doctors and little medical infrastructure. Undeterred, he re-mortgaged his own home, bought 60,000 bricks, and built his own clinic.
Now nonprofit, Ndlovu Care Group’s health, water infrastructure, and community programmes transform the lives of countless people, helping children to grow up free from the life limiting effects of disease and malnutrition.
A child’s first one-thousand days are the most important of its life, establishing foundations for healthy growth and development. But in isolated communities in South Africa, malnourishment and lack of essential minerals and vitamins continue to cause neurodevelopmental disadvantages and health problems, reducing energy levels and interest in learning.
One in five South African children grow up with the effects of malnourishment and a lack of food security, and many who reach adulthood have reduced life expectancy. Tackling the root causes of these problems has been a top priority for Ndlovu Care Group for more than 25 years.
“Treating a sick child can work in the short-term, but unless we address the underlying causes, they will continue to get sick,” explains Hugo Tempelman, CEO of Ndlovu Care Group. “We needed to reach out to families and communities in remote villages, gain their confidence, and work with them to improve their situation for the long term. So, we set up five Nutritional Units and went to work.”
Over the years Ndlovu Care and its teams of healthcare workers have delivered across-the-board improvements in a region that is home to 140,000 people, through health education, access to clean water, better sanitation and hygiene, and support for local people to grow and cook more nutritious food.
For its healthcare workers, all drawn from within the communities they serve, the vital task of capturing the health data of thousands of children, to enable assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, and to track progress, was slow and time consuming. Notes were handwritten on paper and manually transferred to paper-based systems back at the clinic.
Community Healthcare Worker, Debbie Ditshego, has been supporting children and families in Limpopo since 1998. “When I began working for Ndlovu Care we had many severely malnourished children out in remote communities. But through education, raising awareness, and delivering support and encouragement the situation has been steadily improving. Using paper created a huge workload for everyone.”
ServiceNow and its Elite Partner, FlyForm, came together to work with Ndlovu Care to understand how its Nutritional Unit teams operate in the field, the data they needed to capture, the challenges created working in areas without Internet connectivity, the need for data security, and their familiarity with technology. These insights enabled ServiceNow and FlyForm to harness the Now Platform to build a simplified digital experience for the Ndlovu Care team.
Implementing the solution
The solution, launched in July 2022, is a custom low-code ServiceNow application built in App Engine. Its user-friendly interface, features, and functionality quickly won the confidence of Ndlovu Care’s teams, while its ability to function offline enables vital work to continue until a connection is re-established and data can be downloaded.
Using the application, all Ndlovu Care’s Nutritional Units can manage their outreach work, organise health screenings, use checklists to create and update the records of everyone in their care, and track their progress. There is now confidence in the data, ensuring accurate diagnoses by doctors, informing interventions for children, families, and communities.
More accurate data capturing and data management has also improved the feedback Ndlovu Care is able to provide to donors, giving donors the confidence that their funds are being well spent. As one contributor remarked to Ndlovu Care Group you do not donate, you invest in the better next generation.
“We have replaced five manual data capture steps with one, greatly reducing the risk of mistakes,” says Tempelman. “We now have data management and reporting tool, and our teams can spend much more time with the children in their care using a tool that they trust and value.”
“With our ServiceNow application, everything is much easier, and we have extra time to fit in more visits. It was difficult at first, but we had lots of support while we got used to it. The families we care for really appreciate the work we do and the improvement in their children’s health,” says Ditshego.
Transforming the NGO
The application also crunches the data to create easy-to-understand dashboards and reports, providing actional insights and a clear, up-to-date demonstration of the impacts of Ndlovu Care’s programmes.
The data is managed centrally by Moses Mashingaidze, Ndlovu Care’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Manager. “Ndlovu Care has been doing fabulous work for many years, but we did not have reliable data to demonstrate this. We had cumbersome, paper-based systems, data quality was questionable, and things got lost. My role was to create systems to rectify this and to capture and manage our data effectively. But there is only so much you can do in Excel.”
“We worked very closely with Debbie and her colleagues to find out what they needed to do their jobs and to train and support them to use the technology, often for the very first time.”
Operations are now digitised and automated in ServiceNow, with activities and the GPS location of each beneficiary captured in the new application. Real-time, high-quality data is available at fingertips.
Mashingaidze identifies the ability of the application to remain fully functioning while offline and the ease of integration with other IT systems as strengths of the ServiceNow application. “When everyone came together to find a solution for us, the collaboration was very productive, everyone was very committed.”
The data is available in real time and Ndlovu Care can track the progress of every child and the number of children we are supporting has increased. Ndlovu Care is pleased that its work has been recognised in 2022 when they won South Africa’s leading monitoring and evaluation technology award for nonprofit organisations.
Most importantly, Ndlovu Care can now accurately report that using the ServiceNow application has helped the NGO to reduce malnutrition rates amongst more than 5,000 children cared for by its Nutritional Units from 45% to 21%.
ServiceNow has given Ndlovu Care the ability to show its supporters that their donations are being spent wisely and efficiently, and contributing to measurable, life-changing outcomes for thousands of children and families, improving their prospects for the rest of their lives.
“When we have the evidence available, captured in ServiceNow, it makes it easier to explain our success when we are seeking financial support for new programmes or fresh investments in infrastructure,” says Tempelman.
As data volumes increase over time, Tempelman expects to use the application to identify health trends and patterns that enable Ndlovu Care to predict health issues before they occur, enabling timely preventative measures to be put in place.
The success of the ServiceNow application in its Nutritional Units has opened huge opportunities for this digital template to be used to drive Ndlovu Care’s other programmes, such as its education, after-school, and disability initiatives.
Since the ServiceNow application has transformed the way things are done at Ndlovu Care in Limpopo, it can help to deliver the same results for NGOs in the rest of South Africa. ServiceNow applications can play a vital role in helping to reduce poverty and inequality, and promote stability, helping people to move out of survival mode and build a productive life for themselves.Click below to share this article