Novo­pay ‘nightmare’ slowly fad­ing

For nearly two years Novo­pay has caused headaches for schools na­tion­wide. Rose Cawley and Jenny Ling dis­cover cen­tral Auck­land schools are still strug­gling with the pay­roll pro­gramme.

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

La­bo­ri­ous, time con­sum­ing and a nightmare.

They’re not words used to de­scribe get­ting a Rus­sian visa or or­gan­is­ing a wed­ding in win­ter.

It’s how Auck­land prin­ci­pals de­scribe Novo­pay, a con­tro­ver­sial $182 mil­lion web-based pay­roll sys­tem im­ple­mented in 2012 which has been plagued by on­go­ing prob­lems.

But it’s get­ting bet­ter – very slowly.

Western Springs Col­lege’s fi­nance of­fi­cer Anne Mil­lan says Novo­pay can still be a ‘‘nightmare’’ at times.

‘‘It is ba­si­cally just a mat­ter of tak­ing a deep breath, plod­ding through it and hop­ing that no­body wants any­thing changed on their pay,’’ she says.

‘‘The mo­ment you change things on people’s pay you end up with prob­lems.’’

But as the trou­bles start to slowly abate the vi­sion and po­ten­tial of Novo­pay is be­com­ing clearer, she says.

‘‘I can see that once they fix the pro­gramme and get on­line work­ing well it will be the kind of pay pack­age that I’d like to deal with.’’

Auck­land Girls’ Gram­mar ad­min­is­tra­tion man­ager Ains­ley Perry says she spends as much time on pay­roll as she did be­fore Novo­pay.

‘‘What we are get­ting now are not fun­da­men­tal sys­tem er­rors, they are er­rors in the way the data is en­tered on their end. It can take two or three goes to get things right – when one prob­lem is fixed, an­other one is cre­ated.’’

Novo­pay pro­cesses the pay of 110,000 teach­ing and sup­port staff at 2457 schools.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion pur­chased the sys­tem at a cost of $182 mil­lion over 10 years.

In the first pay round, 5000 Kiwi school staff were un­der­paid and 15 were not paid at all.

Pon­sonby Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Anne Mal­colm says the big­gest glitch this year has been the de­lay Novo­pay cre­ated with get­ting the school’s au­dited ac­counts to the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion.

It held her up for nearly two months.

‘‘We couldn’t get signed off by our au­di­tors be­cause we were wait­ing for our staffing us­age to be con­firmed by Novo­pay.’’ Things are im­prov­ing, she says. ‘‘It slowly gets bet­ter. We don’t have the num­ber of er­rors we were hav­ing but we need no er­rors in pay – if that can be done.’’

Water­view Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Brett Skeen says his school is ‘‘one of the lucky ones’’.

‘‘Be­ing a smaller school we don’t have too many prob­lems. It seems the big­ger the school the more prob­lems you have with Novo­pay.’’

He says about three or four er­rors have crept in over the last six months.

‘‘From our point of view it is func­tion­ing quite well. A lot of the is­sues seem to have been ironed out. There are still a few though.’’

So far it has cost about $30 mil­lion to fix Novo­pay.

Labour’s ed­u­ca­tion spokesman Chris Hip­kins says al­most 2000 schools still face prob­lems with it.

‘‘Novo­pay still has more than $9.3 mil­lion in debts to re­cover and on­go­ing er­rors are cre­at­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in new debt,’’ he says.

Min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for Novo­pay Steven Joyce says work is con­tin­u­ing to fur­ther im­prove its de­liv­ery.

New Zealand Ed­u­ca­tional In­sti­tute spokesman Andrew Cas­sidy says money isn’t the only is­sue.

‘‘What schools are telling us is that they’re still spend­ing an in­or­di­nate amount of time en­sur­ing the pay is ac­cu­rate,’’ he says.

Western Springs Col­lege fi­nance of­fi­cer Anne Mil­lan

Pon­sonby Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Anne Mal­colm

Water­view Pri­mary School prin­ci­pal Brett Skeen

Auck­land Girls’ Gram­mar ad­min man­ager Ains­ley Perry

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