Ministry of Education to update payroll

The Ministry of Education says it's pleased with the number and standard of responses after receiving 11 expressions of interest in providing a new teacher payroll system.

The Ministry of Education says it’s pleased with the number and standard of responses after receiving 11 expressions of interest in providing a new teacher payroll system.

The new system will replace the once-troubled bespoke system provided by Datacom for 73,000 teachers at state schools in New Zealand.

It is the largest payroll system in New Zealand and has been provided by Datacom since 1996. It involves the payment of $2.5 billion a year in teacher salaries and consists of DataPay, the payroll system, and TeacherManager, a front-end application. Both were developed by Datacom for the ministry. Previously the ministry ran its own system inhouse.

The changeover resulted in major problems, particularly around 1997, and cost blow-outs.

Datacom inherited a large number of staff who had handled the payroll when it was still run by the ministry. However, the transition from the old mainframe system to the client-server-based operation run by Datacom called for a higher level of skills than many of those staff possessed, the company said at the time.

The request for information document released earlier this year states that “the ministry’s long-term vision for the payroll is to support schools by providing smarter services, enhanced services and improved access to payroll and HR information through a new payroll system”.

Goals for the new system include reducing the risk of payroll service failure, by replacing dated payroll software, reduced payroll errors, by placing greater reliance on automated business rules, improved access to better information and improved payroll service efficiency, “by migrating data from largely manual records to electronic payroll records”.

Requirements include that the system is able to be restored within an hour in the event of interruption, a graphical user interface for mouse and key strokes and the ability to be customised or reconfigured to cover new or extended functionality without hard coding.

The new system must also be able to maintain 40 years of employee history including service records. A successful few will be invited to submit formal tenders next year.

Datacom director Steve Matheson wouldn’t comment on whether Datacom is a respondent to the RFI, citing the ministry’s confidentiality requirements, but says “the tender is for the supply of software, not the service”.

Under its agreement with the ministry, Datacom is allowed an error rate of 30 pays per 10,000, or .03%. The company says it has “consistently operated significantly lower” than that.

The new system will be implemented after final tenders are called for next year.

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