Action Assist

Each Action Assist Database can be made up of one or more modules as decided by the subscriber. Access to the Action Assist system is managed through various user roles.  The Action Assist Database Administrator, user identified by the subscriber, is responsible for creating, managing and removing users on the system as needed. Once a user has been created on the system, they can be assigned user roles which defines which sections and functionality of Action Assist that they can access.

Accessibility and Usability

Action Assist, which can be accessed using a browser connected to the internet, is hosted on a virtual server solution offered by Internet Solutions (IS). The behaviour of the system is the same irrespective of the device or web browser used to access the system.

On accessing the system, the landing page for each individual user is a Dashboard of the actions for which they are accountable and responsible for.  This Dashboard allows the user to access all their immediate tasks from a single location and allows them to update their tasks using minimal clicks.

One of the key features of the Action Assist offering is that when a user logs into the system, they will see their personalised Dashboard which is updated on a real time basis.

A Screen Shot for a potential user is presented below:

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Please take note of the following:

  • Each user will have their own Dashboard displaying the modules and module information that is applicable to them directly;

  • Each user is identified when he / she logs in;

  • The administrator, Subscriber identified person, manages the module access and the level of user access to each module;

  • Users have short cuts (icons) to take them to the detailed functionality of each of the modules;

  • For each module activated for a user, they will see a dashboard reflecting the Actions Due Today, Overdue and Due in the next number of days as defined by the user;

  • When clicking on the action module on the Action Dashboard, the system generates a graphic on the top right of the screen displaying the completion status of the actions as well as a list of the actions to be completed below the graphic;

  • When the user clicks on the Update icon of a specific action, they are taken directly to the update page for the associated action;

  • Once the action has been completed, the action falls off the action list on the dashboard;

  • The above steps are referred to as the 3-CLICKs it takes to update actions from the front-page dashboard.

Server Management and Security:

Action Assist is hosted on a server farm based within Internet Solutions data centres.  These data centres are physically secured to prevent unauthorised access.  Processes are in place between Internet Solutions and Action iT so that only authorised personnel from Action iT can instruct Internet Solutions to make any changes to the physical structure of the Action Assist server farm.  The Action Assist server farm is further protected by a firewall that is managed by Internet Solutions.

Any connection to Action Assist is encrypted through a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Web Server Certificate with Extended Validation provided by Thawte.  This, in turn, ensures that any data transferred to/from Action Assist is encrypted and secured from authorised access.

The Action Assist system is remotely monitored by Alertra, an independent website monitoring service. Alertra uses multiple monitoring nodes situated in various locations in North America, Europe and Asia/Pacific regions to continuously check on the status of the Action Assist system. Each region has multiple monitoring nodes to minimise any risk of failure on the Alertra side and to increase the probability of early detection of any failure of the Action Assist system.  In the event that 3 consecutive monitoring node checks fail an outage event is declared and Action iT IT Personnel are immediately notified of the failure so that it can be attended to and resolved as quickly as possible. In the event of an outage, Alertra will automatically update the Assist System Uptime / Outages Report (available to Assist Administrators) as soon as the Assist system is back up and is responding to checks from the Alertra monitoring nodes. This happens automatically without any action required by Action iT IT personnel.

The health of each Action Assist server is monitored by Datadog, an infrastructure monitoring platform for cloud applications.  Any deviations from normal activity results in an alert being sent to the Action iT IT team ensuring that any performance issues are resolved timeously, thereby preventing any downtime on Action Assist.

Action Assist uses an external email service provider, SendGrid, to deliver all emails generated by the Assist system. SendGrid monitors the delivery of each email and provides feedback on any email failures.

From a security perspective, the Action Assist complies with the National Treasury Security Requirements;

User Access and Management:

User access to the Action Assist platform is governed by the Action Assist Database Administrator.

The Database Administrator has complete control of the users who access the Action Assist system and can easily add or remove users as required.

The Assist Database Administrator also has complete control over the password security rules that govern the users on the system.  Users can be defined as Super Users or Normal Users depending on their user roles within the system.  More stringent password security rules can be defined for the Super Users.  Password rules which can be defined include: password length, password complexity, password age (how often to force users to change passwords), password history (how many passwords to remember to prevent users repeating passwords).  Rules can also be defined regarding how many incorrect password attempts can be made before the user is locked out as well as how long that password lockout continues before the user can login again.

The database and module set-up functionality allow the administrator(s) to define the level of user access to the database and to each of the activated modules.

User access allows the subscriber to define user access for, typically, the following types of Users:

  • Action Assist Administrator: User responsible for the activation and maintenance of Users and for defining system defaults;

  • Module Administrator: User responsible for the set-up of the module and for defining User Access within the module;

  • User: The person(s) who uses Action Assist;

  • Admin User: The person(s) who has administrative rights;

  • Assurance Provider: The person(s) who is allowed to perform assurance functions;

  • Support User: The person(s) who is the support user to the database.

Backups and Recoverability from Failure:

The Assist system is supported by a strict backup policy. The system is backed up daily by an external service provider, RedStor. The backups are progressive. The backup process is entirely automated and requires no human intervention. All data on the server is encrypted before being transmitted for secure storage offsite. The status of the backup is available to the Assist Administrator via the System Backup report.  Backups are regularly tested, according to the Action Assist Backup policy (available to the Assist Administrator) and the results thereof are published on the System Backup Test Report.

A complete backup is performed on a weekly basis, managed by Action iT IT personnel, which is stored off-site in a secure data centre for 1 month before being archived.  Special backups are performed before and after any updates / changes to the Assist system and are treated in the same manner as weekly backups. The status of all backups is available to the Assist Database Administrator in the form of a Backup Report. Internet Solutions have given Action iT a written undertaking, that the servers and data is held in the boarders of the Republic of South Africa and that if required any of our subscribers can visit the infrastructure if accompanied by an authorised representative of Action iT.

Availability and Reliability:

We have outsourced our IT infrastructure to Internet Solutions. Internet Solutions manage secure data centres in several cities within the Republic of South Africa. The Action Assist servers are hosted within data centres in the Gauteng province. All data centres have the required security, backup solutions, back-up power generation etc. processes in place to maintain the availability and reliability of the Action Assist System.

Upload of POE (Proof of Evidence):

Action Assist includes standard functionality that allows for the upload of electronic POE’s. Users with the right level of user access can View the uploaded documentation.

Activity Logs and Audit trails:

Action Assist automatically logs all transactions processed on the system (i.e. date and time stamp). Users have functionality available to them whereby they can view activity logs and /or run Audit Log reports. Logs cannot be altered by any User.  The SDBIP Assist module also includes functionality for the assurance provider to generate a wide range of reports and audit log / trail reports.

Scalability and Flexibility:

Action Assist is specifically designed to allow for easy change and or expansion (scalability). The system is able to support changes within the business of subscribers and should additional server capacity be required, our agreement with Internet Solutions allows us to easily increase our server capacity.

The database administrator and module administrators are given standard functionality that allows them to customise their user experience based on their specific needs. This includes functionality to manage the naming convention of the various modules -i.e. the can rename any of the data fields to ensure alignment with municipal jargon and / or operational requirements.

All changes are automatically written to the activity logs.

System Opening and Closure:

The SDBIP Assist and Individual Performance Management Assist Modules allow the module administrators to set open and closure dates. The module administrator will need to manually open and close the system to users as specified by their profiles and permissions and/or as per timing within the cycle. The modules include functionality that give the module administrators an option to automate system closure for a performance period / evaluation event.

Reporting and Notifications:

Action Assist has a standard Reporting menu option in all their modules. The Reporting functionality includes the following types of reporting:

  • User defined report generation (facilitated through the ticking of boxes);

  • Quick Reports: Generating reports build by the User;

  • Fixed Reports: Generating Standard Reports at the click of a button;

  • Event Driven Reports: Automated reports that are generated when certain criteria are met e.g. Reminders; and

  • Activity and Audit logs.

It is currently a standard feature that all documents can be exported to Excel as either a plain text Comma-separated Values document or a Formatted Excel document.

Performance Manageability:

Currently there are in excess of 30 municipalities in South Africa subscribing to various modules of Action Assist. Given our experience and based on feedback received form our subscriber base we believe that we are providing a good level of system performance. We are confident that we have the required resources to scale up our offering if required.

Resilience of Service:

The Action Assist system is not reliant on specific architecture and is hosted on virtual servers which are continuously monitored by Internet Solutions engineers.  The nature of the virtual server means that the potential for a critical system failure is minimal while the non-reliance on a specific architecture means that Action Assist can be easily moved to alternative server should the need arise.

Please download the Action Assist Fact Sheet by clicking on the links below:

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Action Assist is an innovative South African online subscription offering which provides organisations with a secure, encrypted, web-based platform for the management of operational processes and data storage on the Internet. The tool reduces the administration burden on stakeholders in the day to day operational running of the organisation and clearly assigns responsibility and accountability to all users.  As Action Assist is a web-based offering, there are no hardware requirements to the subscriber in implementing the Action Assist system.

Action iT (Pty) Ltd is the owner and developer of Action Assist.  Our subscribers subscribe to the use of the system and the source code and Intellectual Property of the system (ownership) remains with Action iT (Pty) Ltd at all times. The intellectual property (ownership) of the data captured on to Action Assist, remains that of the subscriber.

The features of Action Assist include:

Web-based Action Assist Database per Subscriber

All the subscriber databases will be hosted on the Action Assist platform, as depicted below:

Assist Database Structure .jpg
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