Leaving Novopay behind, Education Payroll wins Red Hat innovation award

Leaving Novopay behind, Education Payroll wins Red Hat innovation award

Efforts to fix a troubled payroll system appear to be succeeding

Anna Brodie (Education Payroll)

Anna Brodie (Education Payroll)

Credit: Supplied

IBM-owned open source company Red Hat has named New Zealand’s Education Payroll (EPL) a winner of this years’ Red Hat innovation awards.

The award marks quite a turnaround for New Zealand's troubled schools payroll system, once known as Novopay, which was rolled out over the past decade at a cost off $182 million only to become a case study in project failure.

Even as recently as 2018, $26 million more had to be invested to prevent "almost certain failure" of the system.

It was that final investment, however, that appears to have delivered the turnaround by helping to replace and automate stop-gap and error prone manual workarounds.

EPL manages payroll services for New Zealand’s 2500 schools every two weeks, paying 99,000 teachers and support staff. 

Seeking to fix its processes and supporting technology, EPL decided to replace manual, paper-based systems with a new digital application, EdPay.

Previously, the organisation received more than 14,000 handwritten forms from school administrators at its processing centre every two weeks. 

These forms had to be manually entered into the payroll system, following a variety of business rules that created complexity and introduced risk of errors.

Working with local partner Deloitte NZ, EPL deployed Red Hat OpenShift and Red Hat Ansible Automation to create a reliable, scalable foundation for EdPay.

Now, transactions are processed in near real-time, providing information on the resulting changes to teacher pay, allowances, or other categories. 

The shift to digital helped reduce payroll administrative time by 25 per cent and increased customer satisfaction from 56 per cent to 80 per cent.

Replacing its traditional, monolithic system foundations with an automated, container-based Red Hat OpenShift environment also helped EPL build, test and deliver services faster.

EPL also adopted several new workflow approaches to improve efficiency and collaboration. 

With Red Hat OpenShift as the foundation, EPL is able to enhance and streamline EdPay into an application that is intuitive and easy-to-use, with reduced technical and operational risk, and increased payroll capabilities for the schools it supports.

“Administrators can go into their application, see their staff list, review details, and immediately get feedback on their submissions,” said Anna Brodie, head of technology and products, Education Payroll. 

“EdPay has transformed the entire experience with incredible improvements to visibility and usability.”

Even though EdPay operated on premise, Education Payroll gets capabilities similar to if it was cloud native, Brodie said.

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