Challenges faced in implementing software systems in UgandaSamuel Mugisha
I have been involved in implementing software systems in Uganda for many times now since this is what I do to live. The software industry in Uganda is just at the stage of start up. Because of lack of technical expertise and lack of funds to invest in building big software, many software companies in Uganda end up opting for reselling of software.Same way, we couldn’t sit down to build another accounting system,so, we decided to resell Quickbooks accounting package. Besides, there was no need to build a new accounting package yet there is Quickbooks which can do the job well at a reasonable cost.
Our first implementation was with Rugarama Hospital in Kabale district in Uganda. Rugarama Hospital is a non-profit church founded mission hospital. Like any other thing, the first implementation was really challenging. There were many technical issues that we faced but thanks to Google and the Quickbooks forum that helped us resolve all the issues.
Before the process of implementing software could begin, we had to upgrade the hospital’s Local Area Network, get more computer equipment for the hospital and get the infrastructure ready to handle the software solution. This ofcourse meant that the hospital had to invest in some money to have this done. This delayed the whole process. The management was cooperative and soon, we had all the equipment in place.In some places, computer systems never get implemented because of expensive infrastructure needed to run the systems.
After installing and customising the software, we now had to begin training the users. This was one of the most challenging things that we went through. Funny as it may sound for someone in the Western world, some of the users had never used a computer. They were scared from the beginning. At the back of their minds, they knew they would never learn the software package. So, we had to train the users basic computer skills and then train them on how to use the accounting package. This is the same challenge that we faced when implementing a software solution for Health Child Uganda. We went down to the villages of Bushenyi where we found Village Health Teams many of whom have had education only up to primary school level. 90% of these Village Health Team members did not know how to use a feature phone. They had to use the mobile phone application on the phone.
Well, we trained the group at Rugarama for over six months. This was tedious but the group caught up. At that time, Rugarama Hospital did not have a technical person on site. They had no I.T. department. So, we often received calls for even the smallest of issues. This was a major challenge too. I stay in Mbarara district which is a four-hour drive away from Kabale district. Even when I would travel in the shortest possible time to solve the issues, I needed facilitation. I needed transport facilitation from the hospital and a pay for the support I would give while in the field. This became expensive for the hospital. However, Rugarama later hired an on-site computer expert whom I am sure will go a long way in helping the hospital.