Novopay to get $10m fix

Last updated 12:00 15/03/2014

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The Government has announced it will be spending more money on the problematic Novopay system, a move a Nelson principal calls "throwing good money after bad".

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the Government had spent $33 million trying to sort out the troubled Novopay education payroll system and he expected that to increase to $43m by June.

Mr Joyce said "robust discussions" were continuing between the Education Ministry and Novopay's developer, Talent2, about who would ultimately pick up that tab.

Nelson College head master Gary O'Shea is looking to employ someone on a permanent part-time basis in a position created especially to deal with the Novopay problems the school has experienced since it was rolled out two years ago.

He said the latest announcement of another $10m due to go into the system was "throwing good money after bad. I think they will be throwing money at it for a long time . . . After two years of this and the 2 years of development, that's 4 years and they still require more money, when do you say enough is enough?

"It's fundamentally flawed, every time they try to fix something there's a new problems for them. It's like trying to fix a car while it's rolling down the road."

Don Christie, co-chairman of information technology industry body NZRise, said a "much overlooked" failing of Novopay was it was based on an Oracle Forms technology, created in the 1990s, that was "never going to be flexible or modern enough for a complex, distributed, process that was due to stay in use past 2020".

"You wouldn't get Google or Facebook building their business on that."

Mr Christie, who is also chief executive of Wellington technology company Catalyst IT, applauded "the good and hard work the teams have put it to get Novopay to the state it is in now", but said his advice would be to move on.

"I understand that is not easy."

NZEI Te Riu Roa spokesman Andrew Casidy the system was "a lemon".

"Staff continue to be underpaid, overpaid and unpaid and frustrated at the hours being spent fixing their problems. Resources need to go into fixes and training of service staff now.

"It's staggering that $33m has been spent fixing this system, with another $10m projected by June, but it's still a lemon," Mr Casidy said.

NZEI has recently undertaken a random phone survey of 30 schools found more than 80 per cent of schools having major problems with Novopay.

"We need immediate solutions to current issues, not ‘planned changes in the next six months'," he said.

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NZEI has been a member of an advisory group giving input to the ministry's Preferred Service Delivery Model for Novopay.

In a document tabled this week it said it could not "support further promotion and resourcing of the ‘Preferred Service Delivery Model' while there is insufficient focus and resources put into addressing the immediate problems with the current flawed system . . . Payroll processing has to improve before the sector can engage, not least because the level of frustration and lack of trust at the school level is now at dangerous levels". Fairfax NZ

- The Nelson Mail

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