Ministry of Education seeks director for Novopay project

National payroll software project for schools is two years overdue

The Ministry of Education is advertising for a programme director for its much-delayed Novopay schools payroll project.

The new system was to have gone live originally in mid 2010 but complexities led the go-live date to be revised to July 2012.

Fiona McTavish, group manager Education Workforce, says that during work on the project in 2010 issues emerged when customising some of the schools’ payroll features.

“Customisation is the process of making changes to the core system to make sure that every feature of the payroll (such as leave, allowances, pay scales and service accumulators) is absolutely accurate for the Novopay online service,” she says,

“The project had made good progress with customising many aspects of the payroll service. However, due to the unique nature and complexity of this payroll, difficulties have emerged with how individual features work together.

“Early in 2011, the go-live date was revised to July 2012 to provide more time to complete customising the payroll system.

“The project is currently completing these customisations. System testing has begun but is not due to be completed until the end of this year.”

The school payroll is New Zealand’s biggest. Over the course of a year, it delivers a shared service to school boards of trustees, and pays more than 110,000 teaching and non-teaching staff.

McTavish says the current service is technologically aged and dependent on many manual interventions by pay clerks.

Back in 2003, the Ministry of Education said it was pleased with the number and standard of responses after receiving 11 expressions of interest in providing a new teacher payroll system to replace the one provided by Datacom since 1996.

A contract was eventually signed in 2008 with Australian company Talent 2. The new system was due to be operational in the South Island by the middle of last year and in the North Island toward the end of 2010.

The $62.7 million project is on the Government’s watch-list of high-risk projects.

Talent 2 recently advertised in New Zealand for additional staff.

Datacom continues to provide the payroll service which it developed as a bespoke system when it took over the ministry’s in-house service.

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