Thursday, 29 September 2011

Elections Visibility Project

Contributed by Haresh Karamchandani

We recently responded to a newspaper advertisement soliciting suppliers for Election Visibility Materials for the upcoming National Elections on October 11, 2011.

Our Head of Operations (HOO) felt that it was a good opportunity for the company to experience since we have excellent contacts in the manufacture and printing industry in the USA.

There was a pre-bid meeting at the clients’ office which was attended by our HOO.

The client clarified that they needed us to quote for Printed T-shirts, Caps, Stickers, Folders and Banners. We were asked to present samples along with our respective quotes.

We got the samples manufactured by our US contact and air freighted them to Monrovia, which was presented to the client along with our bid.

As expected, our samples were the best in terms of quality and surprisingly our prices too were the cheapest on offer. The client selected NATC and then began the rigmarole of getting a suitable final design approved by them.

Below is the sequence of designs presented, amended, presented, and amended and amended until we arrived at the final approved design.

This was the first design presented:

Design no.2: They said the ballot box was too boring and wanted something in 3-D:

I got my guy in the US to get more creative and present something more colorful and exciting with a 3-D ballot box, here was the next design:

Then the client wanted us to add the words Trust Fund; we obliged herewith:

Then the client changed his mind again and asked us to add the words Basket Fund, here we went:

Then the client decided that the words were too lengthy and should be cut down as follows, we obliged again:

Then the client wanted to add Project Managed By, we did so:

Then the client asked for some more creativity and we came up with the below:


All these changes in design cost us a lot of time and money, but we finally had a satisfied client. The manufacturer in the USA was paid and they began mass production of the following:
  • 2010 pcs of 4’x 6’ Flex PVC Banners
  • 1000 pcs of T-shirts assorted sizes, both Polo and Round Neck
  • 1000 pcs of Caps, Embroidered design!
  • 5000 pcs of SAV stickers and
  • 300 pcs of Folders
Front of the Cap

Back of the Cap

All the goods were shipped by Fedex and DHL and were received in time and supplied. We should be getting paid by the client in a few days.

Moral of the story: Even though it’s not your core line of business, if you are going to learn and experience something new and make some profit at the end then one must go for it.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Latest Update

Contributed by Patience Nyepanh (Admin/Finance) and Cecelia Cooper (Junior Tech)

Patience (Left) and Cecelia (Right): Best friends and colleagues

Hi everyone, we would like to take this time to update you on the latest jobs that New Africa Technology Company has been involved with for the past month (August) to present.

Recently, we have been engaged in so many works for some of our important clients. I will list the kind of jobs we have been dealing with, the challenges we faced in doing the jobs, and the result of each job. For the sake of the privacy of our clients, we are not mentioning the exact names but only the sectors. 

We have provided some details of the various jobs after the list below. 

  • Monthly Hardware Maintenance of 125 Machines & Networking of 25 data & telephone points (UN Agency)
  • Network Printer Malfunction and Breakdown (Mining Company)
  • Laptop Diagnosis & Repair (International NGO)
  • Monthly Maintenance (Insurance Company)
  • Installation of Software (Government Agency - UN Partner)
  • Replacement of Motherboard (International NGO)

Commencement of Hardware Maintenance Contract, Network Extension, and Drop Down Cables  (UN Agency)

We finally kicked off the maintenance contract which we were recently awarded by the UN Agency. The contract was won through a company presentation made by management. They also liked the forms we use and our attention to detail. 

The first day was a little tricky. The UN Agency is housed in a 4-floor building and has more than 200 staff. Apparently the staff was not aware of the scheduled maintenance. Below are the problems or challenges we dealt with on our first day:

a) Some staff asked us to confirm with the IT officer again whether it was the scheduled day or not!
b) Some asked us to wait for 10-15 minutes while they finished up their work. 

The rest we managed to convince the others by telling them the importance of the hardware maintenance in order to improve the performance of their computers. Eventually, the maintenance went  well. The maintenance was scheduled over a period of 7 working days during the morning hours. 

Despite previous experiences, our payment was received on time on completion of a brief report. 

We also completed a networking job at the same site. We started on the 15th and finished on the 18th of September. Some materials were provided by the client (0.5 boxes of Cat6e Cables, Equipment Rack) and the rest were supplied by us:

i) 72 pcs of cable channels size 25X40 and 7pcs of cable channels 50X80
ii)  3 packs of wall plugs and 3 packs of wall screws
iv) 19 Dual Port Wall Boxes
v) 2 x 24-port Patch Panel

Day one, the NATC technicians began removing of all the old channels, wall boxes, cables, did some drilling of the walls, and mounted few cable channels beginning at various points. 

Day two, the client's IT counterpart asked us to remove some channels and wall boxes from where it was mounted to mount it to another location. Drilling of walls, mounting of cable channels and wall boxes continued.

We ran the cables through the cable channels and wall boxes and terminated some cables on the wall boxes.

Day three, we terminated the remaining cables on the wall boxes and tested the various points for both telephone and data. We arranged the cables by labeling the dual port wall box using labeling machine to show Voice and Data.

We had some problem with the cable channels sizes (40X25); the client needed 19 telephone points and 19 data points. Hence we needed larger channels. The Junior Tech (Cecelia) was despatched to Beever Communications on Centre St for 50X80 cable channels. 

From the various offices to the open areas we used the 40X25 cable channels and from the open area to the rack we used the 80X50 channels because, all the cables came from different directions going in one direction to the rack. The 40X25 channel was very small for thirty-eight (38) cables to pass through it.

On the fourth day, we terminated the patch panel; labelled the dual-port wall boxes, showing the data points and voice; and did the final test using the cable tester.

The project was completed over the weekend and we managed to stick to our agreed completion date which was Monday morning so the client could expand their office. Result: happy customer! Let me correct that: happy paying customer!!

Furthermore, the client asked us to crimp 200 hundred cables: 100 drop down cables from the wall boxes to the system units and 100 patch cable from the patch panel to the switch. The job was completed over 3 working days. 

James crimping 200 cables - not an easy job oh!

Other Jobs

One of our most important client's (Mining Company) network printer (HP 5550dn) was brought to our office for repair. Diagnoses were made on the printer and we notice that the roller was damaged due to extensive use and improper insertion of paper. We received the part last week, inserted and tested it, printed out a test paper, and delivered the machine back to the client's site. Another network printer (same machine/model: HP 5550dn) from the same client is still awaiting another part (Paper Feeder) and apparently the part is in tonight's FEDEX shipment. We should have had the part more than a few weeks ago but the first part that was supplied to us was faulty and we had to order a new one. Hopefully, we will deliver that machine back to the client in the next day or two. 

Network Printer HP 5550dn

We are in discussion with the same client to enter into a printer specific maintenance contract. Hopefully, that will come through soon!

Faulty Laptop

We also received a faulty laptop from a client (international NGO). Both the keyboard and sound are faulty and, we are currently diagnosing it. We suspect we will have to replace the keyboard and as for the sound, we might have to re-install the Operation System (OS). In this case, we did charge the client fees for diagnosing the problem and, we will continue this trend. 

Head of IT,  Jonathan Barwon, diagnosing the faulty laptop.

Latest news in the administrative department!

NASSCORP Tax: We recently went to NASSCORP on 16th Street, Sinkor to file our social security taxes. Surprisingly, we were informed that the President of Liberia, Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said that no entity should pay NASSCORP Tax until after election, reason for this is not stated to me.

Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC): We have been noticing that our LEC bills have been decreasing. We are not sure why because our consumption has stayed the same: we have the same number of appliances and users! For instance, it has gone from $ 630.38 to $ 499.80 to $ 440.66. As they say, the LEC works in mysterious ways! 

NATC is also busy building our new offices at the loft on Randall Street. A month back we wrote a letter to LEC for a new connection in our LOFT, I took the letter to Mr. Othello, the head for new connections, at the LEC in Waterside.  He took a look at it and told me that they are not giving out new connections for the month of August so he asked me to check by first week in September.

September 9th I made a stop back at the LEC office to make follow-up on my connection unfortunately for me he was not in his  office and he's the only person responsible for that area. So I decided to make another trip. 

On Wednesday luckily for me I met him and talk to him that very day he gave a LEC form fill in and, he also sent two field technicians along with me to come and do the survey of the new office. Now the survey is done we are awaiting the registration bill.

Ecobank Blues - Ecobank is the main bank we operate from however we are thinking of making some other bank our main one. Ecobank is certainly the largest bank in Liberia with many branches in Monrovia giving one more than one option. However, it is always extremely busy and slow. One can stand in lines for hours just to cash a cheque or make a bank transfer. And these days, it is worse as they have been migrating account numbers to a new system. NATC staff are having trouble accessing their salaries which are paid directly into Ecobank individual accounts but because of the long lines and, a busy office routine, we are unable to withdraw salaries. The company has decided to investigate better options and pay salaries into a different bank. 

Staff Needed! Please apply if you have got what it takes – NATC is getting extremely busy every day with bigger jobs and now we are short of professional IT Technicians. We need more good IT Technicians to join hands with us so we can make NATC the best IT company in Liberia. Skilled technicians may apply as soon as possible. 

We leave you with some photos taken on the terrace of the building we are currently working out of. A new roof has just been built and we can go upstairs to get a nice breezy view of the city and take a break from our hectic routines. 

Until next time!