Category Archives: Technology

Novopay #9 – some comments by others

In looking at this issue I came across an interesting post at Strathmore Park.

The writer puts forward the view that a return to the Datacom system, as it was, is simply not credible. I am inclined to agree, given the amount of time that has passed.


Novopay # 8 – Deloitte Review – Some Thoughts #1

The Deloitte Review found amongst other matters the following, see Pages 8 & 9:-

  • in some areas systems functionality does not adequately support business processes

  • user input issues and lack of data validations contribute to processing errors

  • school management visibility and control is limited by reports that are sometimes poorly presented or inconsistent

  • data quality has been affected by system issues, raising the risk of future errors

  • quality controls on data entry have not adequately prevented errors

  • a high degree of customisation in high impact areas has made on-going development more difficult

  • aspects of the application architecture make customisation difficult

  • service support processes have struggled to manage the volume of issues

Frankly, based on my past experience with projects which have gone off the rails, I am not surprised. Given some of the media comments and observations on various websites I was expecting some other findings, but these are perhaps more likely to surface in the forthcoming Ministerial Review Report.

Then as one goes through the Deloitte report there are a considerable number of other disturbing findings and observations.

I will be commenting one the above findings and other elements of the Deloitte Review in more detail over the next little while.

However, one initial comment I would make, is that given the time spent on this project the fact that system functionality does not fully support business processes is particularly disturbing and leads me to wonder just where the underlying cause of a number of the problems being experienced does in fact lie.

Novopay #7 – The Deloitte Review

Novopay_Technical_Review commissioned by Steven Joyce from Deloitte is attached.

At first looks it confirms some of my thoughts, does not address others, which may well reflect the terms of reference.

I will post some comments shortly.

Novopay #6 : the perils of big IT projects

As I started to look at the Novopay papers, my thoughts turned to a recent article I had read at the McKinsey Quarterly website on delivering large-scale IT projects.

Our research, conducted in collaboration with the University of Oxford, suggests that half of all large IT projects—defined as those with initial price tags exceeding $15 million—massively blow their budgets. On average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted. Software projects run the highest risk of cost and schedule overruns

These findings—consistent across industries—emerged from research recently conducted on more than 5,400 IT projectsby McKinsey and the BT Centre for Major Programme Management at the University of Oxford. After comparing budgets, schedules, and predicted performance benefits with the actual costs and results, we found that these IT projects, in total, had a cost overrun of $66 billion, more than the GDP of Luxembourg. We also found that the longer a project is scheduled to last, the more likely it is that it will run over time and budget, with every additional year spent on the project increasing cost overruns by 15 percent.

The findings are very interesting and correlate with other studies as well. I found the graph below of especial interest:-


The dollar figures are US dollars. Now MoE seem to indicate no major over run as such but I would infer that internal costs have escalated dramatically, especially when end user impact is factored in, plus costs incurred by Talent 2 as well as the some NZ$5 million so far set aside for resolution of issues.

It would be fascinating to know just how Novopay stacks up against these findings.

More commentary in the near future.

Novopay #5: The information dump

A huge amount of information has been made available for download on the MOE website.

I have downloaded it. One thing worth looking for will be what has not been made available.

In addition it appears that one or two documents appear to have been given the same PDF file as the download, so it may be necessary to ask MOE to make them available.

I will comment as I progress through the papers.

Novopay #4 : Not all was sweetness and light

with the prior system.

According to this article in the ODT problems existed in the old Datacom system:-

Principals around the country are criticising the Ministry of Education after major payroll errors, which have created a bureaucratic nightmare for many schools.

Datacom is contracted by the Ministry of Education to provide payroll services to more than 80,000 New Zealand teachers. The latest payroll round – the first of the school term – was filled with errors, New Zealand Principals Federation president and Balclutha Primary School principal Paddy Ford said.

‘‘A number of schools have not received any pay, and many support staff have been paid the incorrect amounts.

Sounds familiar does it not?

Then this most interesting comment:-

Kaikorai Valley College principal Philip Craigie said: ‘‘Some people haven’t been paid correctly. That’s typical at this time of year, but there seem to be a few more teachers with pay problems than previous years.”

Mr Craigie said some teachers had to be paid from school funds so they could afford groceries, but believed the pay problems were traditionally rectified within a couple of weeks.

So problems apparently happened with regular monotony in the past.

Then this comment:-

:‘‘Schools deserve better. It’s a nightmare. We are dealing with unnecessary bureaucracy and huge numbers of errors.

Payroll systems have changed for the worse and we need to have immediate action from the ministry, directing their payroll service providers to shape up or ship out.”

No not about Novopay, but about Datacom.

This article was datelined 15 February 2008.

This article raises questions such as were there major issues with data entry in the past?

Were there problems with information supplied by schools?

Was any effort made to simplify processes as part of Novopay design?

What proportion of the payroll actually has errors?

What is an acceptable error rate for a payroll system of this size and complexity?

How do the payroll errors breakdown as to nature of error?

Novopay #3 – More info emerges

It seems that the arrival of Steven Joyce has led to the issue of more information, either that of the OIA.

Still a lot to review

Though at least one link is incorrect

More later

Novopay #2

Some considerable while ago I wrote a post on project issues. As a scene setter it may be appropriate to revisit it in the context of Novopay.

The post looks at a number of key factors


It provides no answers, but posits some questions


Novopay #1

Much has been written, muttered and uttered re Novopay. Yet I wonder whether we have heard as yet the reality, as opposed to wishful thinking, union angst and media promotion.

I have no inside knowledge, but with the benefit of many years in assessing projects I will be writing a series of posts on the issue.

I suspect that fault, if there is fault, lies in a number of places and not just in one.


A new computer

After some years it is apparent that I need to retire my trusty Inspiron 9400.

The question is with what to replace it?

I am tempted to a Dell XPS 15 with lots of memory and disk, following my philosophy of over spec now, but get long life!