June roll-out scheduled for Novopay face-lift

June roll-out scheduled for Novopay face-lift

Education Payroll has changed suppliers for its $26 million Novopay remediation development

A new user interface will help address some of Novopay's shortcomings.

A new user interface will help address some of Novopay's shortcomings.

The $26 million remediation work on New Zealand's troubled Novopay schools payroll system is continuing, with a new user interface expected mid-year.

Parliament's education and workforce committee has been told development got off to a slow start in 2018 due to Education Payroll Ltd (EPL), the Crown company that operates the payroll service, switching providers. 

EPL now has working software, however, and plans to roll it out gradually to schools in June 2019. 

"The Education Payroll development programme (EPDP) is a large project, and it is important that EPL gets it right after the initial difficulties experienced with Novopay," the committee reported this month.

"EPL assured us that the full roll-out would not happen until it is satisfied that the software is fit for purpose."

Last year, the $182 million Novopay system received a further $26 million in funding for further development.

Documents obtained by Reseller News under the Official Information Act revealed EPL warned government the system was facing "certain failure" after the end of 2019 without further investment.

That kicked off a ten-year project to future proof the core education payroll engine and its Novopay Online component and to provide a path off the technology to either a new system or an outsourced solution.

EPL has a governance board which includes the Government chief digital officer and a representative of the Teachers Council of Aotearoa New Zealand to help ensure that the key software is satisfactory.

The committee said it was pleased to hear that EPL is using the agile method of development.

"This allows it to avoid the problems of the past by delivering sections of the programme for schools to test, and making adjustments as it goes along."

In applying for the additional funding EPL revealed the technology, which manages $4.6 billion in payments a year, was on “very old release” and uses outdated technical components that are close to or already out of support.

The online system used by schools, Novopay Online, was impossible to maintain and enhance because it was built around a specific feature of Oracle Application Server, support for which ends in December 2019.

“The outcome of the detailed business case is to fund the replacement of limited elements of the customer facing Novopay systems while retaining the underlying pay engine, Ascender Pay,” EPL said in a note accompanying the release of the documents last year.

That will improve payroll accuracy, reduce the cost of the system and the administrative impact on schools, it said.

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