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Although we have an extensive range of CPD programmes running in South Africa, it was proving
increasingly difficult to administer the various schemes: process the test results, record event
attendance, capture the points the professionals earned and keep their records up to date.
In many cases, the professional may only remain registered with their professional body if they
earn a certain number of points in a year. But if these points aren’t captured or the professional’s
records aren’t updated in time, the system falls apart. This is where CPD Solutions saw a great
opportunity for the Web and SMS to make the CPD system work.
The company built an online dashboard that each CPD scheme can be customised and used to manage their
programmes and membership. Realising it would limit the usefulness of the service to have it only
accessible via the web, CPD Solutions signed up BulkSMS.com to add an SMS component to the service.
Adding an SMS channel allowed busy professionals to log attendance at off-site events, complete the
quizzes after hours and check their CPD points anytime, wherever they are.
In addition the SMS service allows the professionals to:
So, for instance, a professional body can publish a CPD article in its newsletter with a
multiple-choice test. The professional can then send an SMS with the test’s identifier and
their sequence of answers to the standard-rated short code. For example: test1 abcde abcde.
The system then decodes the SMS, scores the test and issues the CPD points to the individual.
Riaan Bezuidenhout, the programmer at CPD Solutions who developed the system, said he selected
BulkSMS.com as their SMS partner because it offered the functionality he needed to make CPS
Solutions work. Each incoming SMS is unique and is processed and replied to individually. In addition,
the message traffic flow is pretty lumpy and can spike hugely during an event attended by many professionals.
Bezuidenhout uses the HTTP API to receive the information that is then passed on to his system and processed.
He then sends the replies via the SMTP API. In addition, CPD Solutions charges its customers a flat fee for
the web service, plus a charge for each user that registers. BulkSMS.com’s reasonable costs and per message
billing make this model workable for Bezuidenhout.
“But, most important is that the system just works seamlessly,” said Bezuidenhout. Once it was set up I haven’t
needed to touch it, it just runs smoothly in the background. In addition, a large number of the professionals
prefer the SMS interface to the Web-based one because it is so simple and quick to use.”
“This is a great example of how you can extend the capabilities and convenience of the Web via a simple SMS
feature,” said Pieter Streicher, managing director of BulkSMS.com. “Whether thanks to circumstance or preference,
so many South Africans opt for the SMS channel above any other.”
Bezuidenhout hopes to see the service gain popularity amongst the nursing profession – giving nurses the
convenience of logging CPD points even if they are rarely in the office. He also has plans for a school
service that logs and reports teacher attendance via SMS first thing every morning.