Consultant for Technical Review Of Digital Field Application (DFA) Solution

  • Contract
  • Kenya
  • TBD USD / Year

BRAC

About BRAC and BRAC International Holdings B.V

BRAC was established in 1972 after the independence of Bangladesh and currently operates in all 64 districts in the country, providing services to millions. BRAC aims to achieve large-scale positive changes through economic and social programmes that enable men and women to realise their potential. It provides services in the areas of human rights and social empowerment, education and health, economic empowerment and enterprise development, livelihood training, environmental sustainability, and disaster preparedness.

Stichting BRAC International (BI) was legally registered in the Netherlands since 2009 as a non-profit foundation to govern and manage all BRAC entities outside Bangladesh, except its fundraising affiliates (BRAC USA and BRAC UK). BRAC International Holdings B.V. (BI MF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stitching BRAC International, is a socially responsible for-profit organization, engaging people in sustainable economic and income-generating activities. BI MF’s core focus is to provide microfinance services to people who are financially constrained and marginalized, and who do not have access to financing facilities offered by banks and other non-bank financial institutions.

Our mission is “To provide a range of financial services responsibly to people at the bottom of the pyramid. We particularly focus on women living in poverty in rural and hard to reach areas to create self-employment opportunities, build financial resilience, and harness women’s entrepreneurial spirit by empowering them economically.” Our microfinance operations currently reach over 800,000 clients, primarily women living in poverty in rural and hard-to-reach areas, in seven countries: Myanmar, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ghana and Uganda. As of June 2023, 96% of its clients are women, 57% live in rural areas, and 70% are living in poverty.

Please visit www.bracinternational.org for more details.

Project Overview and Objectives

BI MF seeks an experienced technical consultant and/or firm to conduct a technical review of our Digital Field Application (DFA) solution currently in use in three countries – Rwanda, Liberia, and Ghana. Our DFA solution is provided by BRAC IT Service Ltd, Bangladesh. The DFA uses customised smartphones and web-enabled IT solutions to manage our microfinance field activities. The following front-end microfinance processes/aspects are conducted using DFA:

  • Household Survey/Market Survey
  • Client onboarding and Approval
  • Group meeting management
  • Client follow-up and training
  • Loan application and approval process
  • Savings and loan repayment collection from the field.
  • SPM reporting
  • Key operational reporting for front-line staff
  • In-depth analysis of the application’s architecture, including system components and modules.

Our primary goal of implementing the DFA solution is to improve efficiency and staff productivity by eliminating paper-based front-end processes, streamlining client onboarding and loan origination processes in the field, and improving data capture to ensure high-quality data. Additionally, the DFA aims to lay a foundation for social performance tracking and poverty tracking.

The DFA solution has been implemented since 2018, with Rwanda being the first country to kick off operations with DFA. In the back -end BRAC IT maintains two separate code bases for DFA – one code base in Rwanda and one code base in Liberia. The Liberia code base was customised as per country-specific requirements and rolled out in Ghana.

In Rwanda and Ghana, DFA is integrated with a core banking system – Temenos Financial Inclusion Suite and in Liberia DFA solution is integrated with an ERP system – sbiCloud developed by BRAC IT. Our microfinance front-end processes in Uganda, Tanzania, Sierra Leone and Myanmar are currently paper-based processes and have not yet rolled out the DFA solution. These countries have plans to roll out the DFA solution in 2024/2025 as DFA is a critical strategic solution that will power our operations into the foreseeable future.

In addition, all our microfinance entities are in the process of transitioning from an ERP system – sbiCloud to core banking system – Temenos Financial Inclusion Suite. Consequently, BHIBV would like to understand DFA’s technical fit to the new core banking system – Temenos Financial Inclusion Suite.

In line with our mission, we aspire to leverage technology to grow our reach to more customers and improve customer experience. As such, we are also implementing alternative delivery channels – mobile payments and agent banking.

Project Objectives

We seek a technology firm/consultant to conduct an in-depth technical analysis of DFA architecture and the technical capability of the system to support current and future business and technical needs. Working with BRAC IT and BHIBV technology team, the consultant will::

  1. Conduct a systematic assessment of the overall DFA system – its design and architecture (hardware, software, access methods and protocols, et al). The aim is to assess both code bases, identify potential performance bottlenecks, opportunities for code base optimization, and software’s compliance with established standards and specifications.
  2. Assess T24-DFA system integration approach that was applied when we deployed the core banking system – Temenos Financial Inclusion Suite in Rwanda. The aim is to:

a) Understand the extent to which the implemented integration approach best supports current and future business activities

b) Investigate recurring integration issues and propose long-term solutions. During integration with T24, Rwanda has faced various issues including data syncing issues between the two systems. Although the number of issues has decreased in Rwanda, some data synchronisation problems still persist.

c) Identify areas to optimise the integration and apply learnings in the Liberia code base before Liberia goes live with T24 in 2024. Also, ensure that the Ghana code is also optimised.

  1. Assess the current approach for deploying DFA across all BI MF countries. The aim is to recommend how best to optimise the approach to ensure we efficiently provide timely and quality support to all our microfinance entities (who are at different stages of implementation of DFA) and exploit the full capabilities of the system in the long term. This will include an assessment of the current team structure and capabilities.

Scope of work for the technical review:

Architecture Evaluation:

  • Assessment of data flow and communication between components.
  • Examination of the technologies, frameworks, and tools used in the application’s development.
  • Identification of performance bottlenecks and recommendations for optimization.
  • Evaluation of the rationale behind the technology choices.
  • Evaluation of data storage solutions for reliability and efficiency.
  • Evaluation of security components in existing architecture.

Performance and Reliability Testing:

  • Assessment of the application’s overall performance, including response times, throughput, and scalability.
  • Documentation of performance benchmarks and test results.
  • Conducting load testing and performance benchmarks.
  • Examination of redundancy and failover mechanisms.
  • Analysis of monitoring and error handling processes.
  • Assess the capabilities of the automated notification/alert system for events, errors, or delays.
  • Functionality and User Experience (UX) Evaluation:
  • Evaluation of the application’s user interface (UI) for usability and accessibility.
  • Feedback on user experience and any usability issues.
  • Recommendations for improving the application’s functionality and user-centric design.
  • Integration and Compatibility:
  • Assessment of the application’s integration capabilities with the existing core banking system (T24) and external APIs (For example, CRB, national ID system, Aggregators).
  • Recommendations for data synchronization and backup improvements.
  • Functionality of DFA vis-a-vis CBS and DARS:
  • Review functionality of the DFA (App and Mission Control) vis-a-vis equivalent functionality in CBS and DARS to determine duplicates and make recommendations on which system is best placed to handle duplicated functionalities
  • Mobile and Offline Capabilities:
  • Testing of offline functionality and data synchronization mechanisms.
  • Recommendations for enhancing performance in low-bandwidth or offline scenarios.
  • Recommendations for Improvement:
  • Clear and prioritized recommendations for enhancing the application’s performance, security, and functionality.
  • Actionable steps and timelines for implementing the recommended improvements.
  • Summary and Conclusion:
  • A concise summary of the key findings and observations from the technical review and subsequent recommendations.
  • Identify pain points/challenges and recommend remediation/improvement

Deliverables

  • FINAL REPORT: Share a final report compiling all recommendations with justifications and provide detailed modalities for each prototype/redesigned process. Ensure structured handover of project documents and plans to BRAC project manager for proper implementation and conduct short training sessions if necessary
  • VALIDATION WORKSHOP: A validation workshop with key stakeholders with initial findings, recommendations, and proposed improvement areas.
  • SUMMARY PRESENTATION: A summary presentation with final findings and recommendations needs to be presented to the BRAC management team.

Timeline:

Given the time-sensitive nature of the project, it is anticipated that the engagement will last a period

of two months, commencing from the date of contract signing and expected to be completed by the 29

March 2024.

Deliverable & Timeline:

  1. Submission of the first draft of the report with the BIMF team for initial findings and recommendations with proper justification – 15 March 2024
  2. Validation workshop with country teams with initial findings and recommendations with proper justification – 29 March 2024
  3. Final Report – 1st Week of April

At the conclusion of the project, all deliverables must be handed over to BRAC project manager for implementation.

Qualification of the Consultant/Firm

  • Software Development including Data modelling
  • Familiarity with application development framework & tools – Native / Flutter/Xamarin/Hybrid, local data storage – local caching/SQLite/firebase/realm, Programming language – JAVA/objective c/ javascript etc
  • Application Programming Interface (JSON, REST, Web Services, IRIS etc..)
  • Knowledge of Temenos Transact (Financial Inclusion R20) and its integration capabilities will be an added advantage
  • Excellent documentation skills
  • Familiar with ActiveMQ or any other messaging system.
  • Experience in the microfinance sector.
  • Experience in Offline app development and management for large data sets.
  • Understanding of web middleware system design
  • Deep understanding of working with Microfinance institutions and process digitization and redesigning.
  • Preferably have experience in HCD (Human-centred design) approach (or other client-centric methodologies) to understand the needs, behaviours, and motivations for staff and clients.
  • Knowledge of regulatory environments of the target markets
  • Strong analytical, research, and writing skills with expertise in survey and qualitative research in the form of interviews and focus groups.
  • Proactive project management skills with strong attention to detail. Experience working under tight deadlines with a multilateral team across time zones and managing a rigorous schedule of data collection
  • Fluency in English required.

How to apply

If you meet the above qualifications, please submit a proposal detailing your previous experience in conducting similar work, a proposed work plan with a tentative timeline, a proposed budget, and CVs.

All proposals must be submitted by email to [email protected]and [email protected]no later than Thursday, 15th Feb 2024 at 11.59 pm East African Time (EAT).

Kindly submit any questions/clarification to the email address above by Monday 12th February, 2024.

BRAC is committed to safeguarding children, young people and adults, and expects all employees and volunteers to share the same commitment. We believe every stakeholder and every member of the communities we work with has the right to be protected from all forms of harm, abuse, neglect, harassment, and exploitation – regardless of age, race, religion, and gender, status as an individual with a disability or ethnic origin. Therefore, our recruitment policy and procedure include extensive background checks and disclosure of criminal records in order to ensure safeguarding to the fullest extent.

BRAC is an equal opportunities employer


Deadline: 15-Feb-24