Ministry defends school staff over Novopay debacle
Thursday 29 Nov 2012 9:58 a.m.
The Ministry of Education has hit back at criticism of school administrators from the company behind the error-ridden Novopay payroll system.
Novopay went live on August 20 and there have been thousands of errors that have seen some school staff miss out on pay fortnight after fortnight.
The Australian company behind the system, Talent2, has defended its technology and said part of the problem was that school administrators had not fully embraced it.
Talent2's chief executive John Rawlinson told media last week that many schools were faxing or phoning through payroll information, instead of entering it online, which created a backlog for staff at service centres.
Mr Rawlinson said school administrators had a lack of skills and training to use Novopay - partly because the training was largely online and some people were not able to take part.
He later said he was not blaming administrators for the issues.
Ministry spokeswoman Rebecca Elvy told Radio New Zealand she was "really disappointed" by Mr Rawlinson's comments - which the ministry asked him to retract.
She disputed Talent2's comments that software bugs weren't to blame.
"There were functions of the system that simply weren't working when we went live, in terms of leave applications and relief teachers, and those are the predominant weekly or fortnightly transactions that schools need to put in," she said.
"There was absolutely no fault in those early pay runs at all on the part of school administrators."
Ms Elvy agrees there have been issues around training, and face-to-face training should have started earlier.
A spokeswoman for the primary teachers' union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, told NZ Newswire that there had been no improvement in performance in the latest pay round on Tuesday night and teachers were still reporting errors.
However, the ministry says the latest pay round was the best yet under the new system.
“The last pay round was the cleanest the Ministry and Novopay have had,” Associate Education Minister Craig Foss says. “But the issues particularly around the first two pay periods were unacceptable and they are still playing out at the moment. Overall I think the system is on the right track.”
He says the issues will take a year to sort out because of the complexities of the system.
“Each pay period is actually different. When you’ve got 92,000 teachers to be paid, 10,000 different combinations of pay across 13 award, it is a very, very complex system.”
Novopay has to pay a fine when it doesn’t deliver a payroll that works, but Mr Foss says the details are commercially sensitive.
“There are key performance indicators and contractual obligations to be delivered upon.”
He says an independent review will be done next year with the focus now on getting it running.
“The review […] will look at what could have been, should have been done better when particularly the system was implemented.”
NZN / 3 News