For children around New Zealand, school reports present a
measure of their progress and advise on areas for
improvement. With that in mind, the Otago Daily Times
has turned the tables and given schools a chance to provide
similar information on how well the Government is handling
Novopay. Education reporter John Lewis reports.
As Novopay prepares for the first pay period of 2014 next
week, it appears confidence in the beleaguered payroll system
is returning to the sector for the first time since it was
The payroll system was launched in August 2012, and issues
surfaced almost immediately as teachers and school staff
across the country were left underpaid, overpaid or unpaid.
The debacle destroyed the sector's faith in the ministry and
Novopay, and many believed it would take a long time to
But since Minister Responsible for Novopay Steven Joyce took
over the payroll system, the opinions of Otago principals and
IT specialists appear to have changed.
Otago Secondary Principals' Association president and
Cromwell College principal Mason Stretch was impressed with
the improvements in the system's performance, and gave
Novopay's performance a B.
''This time last year, it was causing major problems.
''It has definitely improved immensely, from my perspective.
''They've put a huge amount of resources into it. A lot of
the issues we have had appear to have been resolved.
''We're looking forward to the last few issues being
resolved,'' he said.
Otago Primary Principals' Association president and
Abbotsford School principal Stephanie Madden was not so
generous when it came to grading Novopay's performance, but
said she had more confidence in the system at the moment than
she did this time last year.
''It would be fair to say, people seem to be experiencing
less issues than previously.
''But there is still a really big backlog of issues that have
not been addressed.
''I would give a C+. They have made some progress but there
are a large number of issues still to be clarified and
''I'm much kinder to children when it comes to marking.''
Mrs Madden said next week would be a telling week, and her
grading might change, depending on what happened in the first
pay period for 2014.
Software specialist Prof Stephen MacDonell, from the
University of Otago School of Business, said he had been
tracking the performance of Novopay, and there was no
question those working on Novopay were making good progress.
''It's slower than anyone would like, but it is a complex
system and it's not uncommon that getting the fixes made and
functionality up to where people would like, is going to take
''They've put all the people, processes and resources in
place to try and get it right.
''The number of problems and complaints are decreasing. The
trajectory is moving in a positive direction at this stage.''
Prof MacDonell said he would be more generous with his
grading and give those working on Novopay a solid B.
''If I'm looking at it from an IT management point of view, I
would say they still have a lot of progress to make, but they
are doing the right things.''
Novopay passed one of its biggest tests late last year when
it managed a 100% completion rate for schools involved in the
end-of-year process, and gained an accompanying low error
However, Mr Joyce conceded earlier this month, there was
still a lot more work to be done.
Work was continuing to collect past overpayments, and plans
were being made to simplify the end-of-year and start-of-year
processes to ensure they would run as smoothly as possible in
Good progress had also been made with the 2014 start-of-year
process for getting payroll systems prepared, he said.