Editorial: Novopay nightmare must be sorted

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 27/11/2012

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OPINION: Have you ever heard of a story pinata? It's the type of news story that keeps giving the more it gets hit with a stick.

But in the case of the Novopay payroll system for schools, this is no child's game, this is real life.

For three months the Education Ministry and the company behind the new system, Australian firm Talent2, have been working to fix, or at least limit, the errors that have been happening every fortnightly payroll cycle.

Each time there are stories about staff who have been overpaid, underpaid and, worst of all, not paid at all.

What must be particularly galling for the principals, teachers and other staff is that this project was years in the making and worth tens of millions of dollars.

It raises all kinds of questions about what kind of practical testing was done before it went live. IT projects have a tendency to cost more than original quotes and can be rushed into use. This doesn't just cause problems for the users, but with the people who are swamped with complaints to fix up all kinds of errors.

Was the old payroll system so terrible that the launch of Novopay couldn't have been put off for a little longer? Because, before Novopay, you never heard any horror stories about the way things were done.

Novopay must have some great features if the ministry decided to ditch the old system, spend so much money, and cause so much disruption.

The problem is, those whiz-bang features have been hidden by the debacle of the past few months.

It may sound like a broken record, but there can't be any more errors with Novopay. It's time for this particular pinata to be taken down and put away.

Trust in the system is at an all-time low and people need to have at least some faith in it coming into the Christmas and January holidays.

Maybe the silver lining is that other government departments and agencies may learn a valuable lesson from this.

ONE MORE THING

If it had happened to one of our players, everyone would be up in arms.

All Black Andrew Hore's despicable swinging arm incident, which knocked out and hospitalised Welsh lock Bradley Davies, deserves a decent stint on the sidelines for the experienced hooker. His act was cowardly and inexcusable.

It's not as if the move was in retaliation; the match had been going only 30 seconds. Such behaviour should not be condoned and Hore's thuggish act deserves maximum punishment.

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- Manawatu Standard

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