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Novopay going from bad to worse

Written By: - Date published: 10:01 am, February 7th, 2013 - 103 comments
Categories: schools, Steven Joyce, wages, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

Mr Fixit Steven Joyce has been handed the Novopay fiasco, and the first pay round under his watch is the worst yet:

Novopay round labelled a shocker

The Ministry of Education fielded hundreds of calls from school staff either not paid or underpaid by Novopay yesterday, but the real “carnage” will be when schools resume today.

Fielded calls from principals and administrators only. Mere teachers – many of them badly affected by this mess – are not allowed to call the “hotline”. These are the same teachers who are collectively owed almost $12 Million in missed wages. ($12 Million?! – ahhh, they’ll probably never miss it I can hear the Nats say – they’re only teachers after all.)

So is this a conspiracy to introduce bulk funding, as some believe, or just a good old fashioned cock up? For now I’m going with the latter. Signing off on a system to go live with repeated warnings of so many obvious errors, and such a poor track record, is just far far too stupid to be a plausible part of any cunning plan.

103 comments on “Novopay going from bad to worse ”

  1. Jackal 1

    It’s a result of having people like John Banks in power… It’s a result of the right wing wanting to demoralize teachers and destabilize any opposition to their plans to privatize our education system.

    • One Tāne Huna 1.1

      I’m with the incompetence theory. The poor Tories just aren’t that bright. John Banks knew nothing about the new private charter schools when Key announced them as ACT policy.

      • framu 1.1.1

        im going with the bit of both.

        initially a cock up, (due partly to ideological approach to such things) followed by a healthy dose of leverage to put the screws on

        • fatty 1.1.1.1

          I’d go with the ‘there ain’t no votes for us so who gives a shit’ theory.
          National don’t care about teachers because they supposedly vote Labour every time.
          Its fairly common for either Labour or National to ignore people/groups/communities if those people/groups/communities reliably vote for either red or blue.
          That’s why Labour aren’t bothered about east Chch.
          That’s why Labour did fuck-all for Maori for years (sadly, that can be seen as justification for the MP & Nats coalition, and also the Greens 2011 murmurings about jumping into be with the Nats)

          It appears as though the Nats will reward their reliable voters – farmers, greedy landowners etc…but then Nats will put their foot on the throat of those who supposedly vote Labour.

          In contrast, Labour will ignore those who supposedly vote for them – low paid workers, Maori, Pacific Islanders, students, youth & elderly…then try to seduce those who vote for the Nats – greedy landowners, farmers, Pakeha with racist tendencies.

          Unfortunately, the teachers will achieve nothing if they vote for National in the hope of waking up Labour. In the past Labour have refused to stop their flirting and they continue to ignore those who they supposedly represent. We can see from Shearer’s latest racist dogwhistle – ‘can’t we just all celebrate Waitangi’ – Labour still don’t give a shit about Maori.

          Sadly, the teachers historical support of Labour has left them without a voice, when it should have done the opposite. Teachers should vote Green/Mana if they want what they deserve.

          • Macro 1.1.1.1.1

            Yep! that’s just about it. And as more and more people wake up to the fact, Labour will become more of a spent force. They have only themselves to blame.

          • Scintilla 1.1.1.1.2

            I reckon it’s a bit of a myth that teachers are all Labour voters. I’ve met a lot of right-leaning, conservative, even Michael Laws-loving teachers. And remember all those under 35 have no concept of a New Zealand pre-rogering by Douglas.

            • Colonial Viper 1.1.1.1.2.1

              +1 although at this stage a few less national votes will be coming through

            • Macro 1.1.1.1.2.2

              Yes of course its a myth. It’s perception however that forms the basis of action, or in this case inaction.

            • millsy 1.1.1.1.2.3

              “And remember all those under 35 have no concept of a New Zealand pre-rogering by Douglas.”.

              NZ before 1984 feels like a totally different country, more than a few countries around the world tried to completely sever their past like we did and killed millions in the process. We managed to do it in 6 years completely bloodless.

      • muzza 1.1.2

        It’s not incompetance – There are frameworks and standards which are followed during implementations of such programmes of work.
        If those standards/frameworks were *bipassed or ignored* etc, then its more likely deliberately trying to ram something through, while reeking havoc on an industry that you want to disrupt!

        • One Tāne Huna 1.1.2.1

          🙄

          Five days into a two week ban, and once again we have to put up with this tiresome cretin.

          • muzza 1.1.2.1.1

            Jeez, have I managed to get banned again… [deleted]

            [indeed you have – sorry ’bout that – moderators please take note. r0b]

    • outofworkkiwi 1.2

      Jackal 100% Right. The Teachers are one of the last unionised bastions of a decent New Zealand Society, in my opinion this so called government would love to break them anyway it could,it stinks. 🙁

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    Time for court proceedings against the MoEd as a delinquent employer.

  3. Dimpost has an interesting take on the fiasco (http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/the-novopay-bim/)

    Essentially he thinks that part time teachers’ time sheets were not able to be entered into the system the way that full time teachers’ sheets were. They were emailed into the Novopay help desk and the staff were meant to enter these into the database. The only problem is that the job was not done properly and there was no “quality assurance” backup in place. Danyl thinks that the system was held together by work arounds rather than the code being fixed.

    If you look at the “go live” decision paper (http://www.minedu.govt.nz/~/media/MinEdu/Files/TheMinistry/NovopayProject/TestingNovopay/GoLive/EdReportFinalRecommendationV1.pdf) the Ministers were told that there were 147 identifed bugs, 10 of them significant and the report says “seven of the eight criteria associated with Confidence Point Two have been met, or are close to being met”. Obviously one criteria was not met and was not even close to being met. I wonder if this was the part time teachers data imput module?

    If I was the Minister I would have sent it back and told them to get the bugs sorted and all the criteria met before going live.

    The recommendation in the report jarrs with the content and it makes you wonder if there was pressure to put the recommendation to go live into the report.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      “If I was the Minister I would have sent it back and told them to get the bugs sorted”

      All software is released with bugs. The media in particular have pounced on this as if it is some important or amazing revelation, but frankly it isn’t. If the company judged that the bugs were not critical and it was possible to release with them, then you should trust their judgement. Obviously in this case TalentTwo have turned out to be completely useless, but you shouldn’t be second-guessing them at that stage (or if you were, the number of known bugs wouldn’t be the data you’d be moving on).

      Of course this doesn’t mean that there weren’t many more unknown bugs which could have been quite severe.

      • Jackal 3.1.1

        All software is not released with bugs Lanthanide. There are sometimes beta releases to the public to work out any problems, but generally this is after extensive testing on various platforms to validate that the software works.

        Sometimes a different team of developers is used to test software, especially with large scale programs, but this doesn’t seem to be the case with Novopay. After reading the reports, it was apparent that there were significant bugs within Novopay, therefore the disastrous software should not have gone live.

        It’s also not just the software development issues that were the problem… Talent2 was clearly incompetent before Novopay went live, and any competent government minister would have realized it.

        • Lanthanide 3.1.1.1

          “After reading the reports, it was apparent that there were significant bugs within Novopay, therefore the disastrous software should not have gone live.”

          Which the company judged were not “significant” enough to stop the roll out. That was my point. Unless you don’t trust the companies judgement, then the known bugs were not a reason to stop the rollout. Unknown bugs, or not trusting the companies judgement are different issues than whether they had known bugs or not.

          I also suspect you don’t understand the difference between “missing features” or “features not implemented to specifications” or “inadequate specifications” and “bugs”. The issues reported in the media look more like the former than the latter (in part because the errors have been so egregious that any bugs that caused them should be easily spotted and fixed, missing or incomplete features aren’t easily or quickly fixable).

          • Jackal 3.1.1.1.1

            Lanthanide

            Which the company judged were not “significant” enough to stop the roll out.

            Read the reports again Lanthanide… The implementation of Novopay was halted at least twice because of significant problems with the system.

            The ministry raised concerns that clearly showed they didn’t trust the judgement of Talent2… Their advice was ignored by the various ministers who signed off on the inferior program.

            The issues reported in the media look more like the former than the latter (in part because the errors have been so egregious that any bugs that caused them should be easily spotted and fixed, missing or incomplete features aren’t easily or quickly fixable).

            You’ve obviously never developed software Lanthanide if you think missing or incomplete features are worse than bugs.

            A missing or incomplete feature is usually rectified by adding that feature. A bug in the system can sometimes take considerable amounts of time to even locate, let alone fix or develope a workaround for.

            • Lanthanide 3.1.1.1.1.1

              “You’ve obviously never developed software Lanthanide if you think missing or incomplete features are worse than bugs.”

              LOL

            • McFlock 3.1.1.1.1.2

              Apart from the fact that “adding that feature” is a bit more complicated than simply adding a shelf to a desk. You need to ensure that everything works together and, e.g., don’t try to use the same memory space, or pass incorrect data types around, or leave some legacy issue that waits quietly until a user pings it, or whatever. Can be mitigated and made easier to fix by using good programming protocols, but then the same goes with bugs.

              • Jackal

                Yes McFlock… Adding features to programs is more difficult than just adding a shelf to a desk. The point is that programers who fix bugs are usually a bit specialized, whereas programers who write code usually aren’t. There’s no question that fixing bugs in programs is far more difficult than writing programing code.

                The other thing that should probably be highlighted is that some bugs can allow a program to be compromised… In other words there was no proper development method and critical bugs were allowed through the debugging process (if there was one), and it’s likely that there are other problems inherent with the Novopay system.

                My advice is to look for an alternative company that has already developed and implemented a large payroll system and start again. I would also look at court action against Talent2 to retrieve some of those millions the government has wasted. The ministers who signed off on such an obviously flawed system should be sacked!

                • Colonial Viper

                  *facepalm*

                • Fixing bugs is hard.

                  Writing new features without introducing bugs is hard in a different way, and I’m really not convinced that either is easier.

                  In any program written by multiple people new features will practically inevitably introduce bugs due to issues in interfacing with another person’s code. Introducing a new feature is more like adding a new person to a social dynamic and hoping the group doesn’t become dysfunctional in any way than it is like adding a shelf to a desk. Bugfixing is like trying to get people to talk about their problems and resolve the issues caused by their feelings. It’s difficult, but usually you have a lot more evidence of the problem than you do when you’re trying to avoid the issue altogether.

                  Also, with a critical system like payroll, when introducing a new system it should be introduced by testing in paralell, with some people using the new system and some the previous system until the new one is ready for full rollout. That this option wasn’t considered is very bad contingency planning on the Ministry’s part. (or perhaps another decision fouled up by an incompetent minister, I don’t know)

                  • Jackal

                    Often debugging takes just as long as writing the program in the first place. Although you’re correct that adding new features can add additional bugs, in general upgrading ie adding new features to a program is a lot easier than debugging.

                    Novopay appears to not have even gone through a final beta stage whereby all product features are in place and the application has been tested and found to be free of any serious bugs. As you say a payroll system should be run in parallel to see if it works or not.

                    The Ministry did inform various Nat ministers that Novopay had serious problems, they signed of on it going live anyway… That’s either malicious intent or gross incompetence.

                • Lanthanide

                  “The point is that programers who fix bugs are usually a bit specialized, whereas programers who write code usually aren’t. ”

                  More lols. And you think I don’t know anything about software development?

                  • Jackal

                    I didn’t realise we were having a pissing competition Lanthanide, but your comment makes me think you have very limited knowledge concerning software development.

                    • Lanthanide

                      Yeah, only seven years, now being promoted to a team lead position. Incidentally I’ve fixed the 5th most bugs out of anyone in my company over that time (out of about 120 people over these 7 years).

                      Just to give you a little idea about how software development actually works:

                      You have to learn the software you’re working on before you can implement new features in it, otherwise you’ll just make a mess. We use bug fixing as training for new staff so they can learn about the system – with their work being reviewed by experienced engineers. Generally more experienced engineers do more project work (new features) and less experienced engineers do more bug fixing, to help them learn the system. Of course more experienced engineers are also a lot more productive, so they generally end up fixing the most bugs while also doing the new feature work as well.

                      As for “features being so easy to implement” and “bugs being so difficult”, two salient examples from my team. Earlier last year one of my (most senior) team members was investigating a bug that, after 3 weeks of investigation, he determined was actually large hole that was left by a previous project – they simply had left out a lot of important functionality for part of the system – it worked very well 98% of the time but there were nasty corner cases that failed abysmally. He estimated it’d take him at least a month to finish up this feature work properly as it required implementing many new systems and testing them. Recently another project finished up and left a rather large hole in their implementation as well; an engineer has spent 25 business days (that’s over a month) working to fix up their work.

                      On the other hand, the typical bug will take 2-3 weeks from start to finish.

                      So, I repeat my original statement: all software has bugs. If the company has indicated the bugs are not show-stoppers and the product can be released with them unresolved, then it isn’t something to make a big song and dance about as the media (and yourself) have been.

                    • Jackal

                      Lanthanide

                      Of course more experienced engineers are also a lot more productive, so they generally end up fixing the most bugs while also doing the new feature work as well.

                      Yes! Many experienced engineers fix bugs as they go.

                      Earlier last year one of my (most senior) team members was investigating a bug that, after 3 weeks of investigation, he determined was actually large hole that was left by a previous project – they simply had left out a lot of important functionality for part of the system – it worked very well 98% of the time but there were nasty corner cases that failed abysmally.

                      Wow! One example is what your basing your argument on that writing new features is harder than fixing bugs.

                      We seem to be arguing about terminology… If a program fails because of a lack of code in any area, you’re calling that a lack of a feature or important functionality being left out… Whereas in many cases a lack of code is also determined as being a bug.

                      All software doesn’t have bugs… Some programming languages simply don’t allow for bugs to occur. Most software is released with minor bugs, however we’re not talking about minor bugs in the Novopay system.

                      The media hasn’t divulged whether the bugs were serious or minor.

                      The fact of the matter remains, Bill English, Hekia Parata and Craig Foss signed off on Novopay after being informed that there were bugs that could compromise the system, which would indicate that they were serious bugs. So, despite your obvious qualifications, your claims are largely unfounded Lanthanide.

                    • Lanthanide

                      Wow! One example is what your basing your argument on that writing new features is harder than fixing bugs.

                      No, it’s a salient example. It’s not what I’m basing my argument on: I’m basing my argument on my experience as a senior software engineer, and now team leader, in a global company that ranks among NZ’s largest tech exporters. I didn’t want to write a novel about why you were wrong, I figured some evidence to back up my opinion would help educate you, but obviously you cannot accept that other people might be a little more experienced at some things than you.

                      We seem to be arguing about terminology… If a program fails because of a lack of code in any area, you’re calling that a lack of a feature or important functionality being left out… Whereas in many cases a lack of code is also determined as being a bug.

                      I suspected as much. The broadest (and least helpful) definition of “bug” is “the software doesn’t do what I want it to do”. To give you an example of why this is an unhelpful definition, consider notepad in windows, hopefully you’re familiar with it. Under that definition of bug, I can say “man, notepad doesn’t let me add pictures into the documents I create, it’s a bug”. Except notepad was never designed to let you add pictures to documents: it’s purpose is to be a simple text-only editor. Calling this a bug is unhelpful because it is clearly a feature request.

                      To bring it back to novopay, one of the reports I read on stuff mentioned that the software was designed to pay staff as if they are on a collective contract, but some staff, while on the collective contract, actually have more flexible working conditions (for whatever reason) and the software could not cope with this. From the MOE’s point of view, that would probably be a “bug” in the software, but from TalentTwo’s point of view, it’s a missing feature, presumably because the requirement for that functionality was never properly captured. Either that or they simply failed to implement it. But the scope of the work required to fix that goes far beyond a “bug fix”.

                      And yes, the precise definition of a ‘bug’ is a bit vague. Generally we use the term ‘bug’ for anything that, to the best of our knowledge, should be expected to work, but doesn’t. Other things are clearly missing features: we know that something was simply not implemented (for whatever reason – human error of one sort or another, or changing requirements) so there is no way we could reasonably expect it to work. Often a gut-feel answer can demonstrate this quite easily: you ask someone “should the software do XYZ in this case?” and they say “no, that sounds like a bug” or “doh! we completely forgot about that!”.

                      All software doesn’t have bugs… Some programming languages simply don’t allow for bugs to occur.

                      Depends on your definition of “bug”, doesn’t it? I could easily write a program in ADA that is full of ‘bugs’. The only sorts of programs that are guaranteed to not have bugs are those written using “formal methods”, which is a very very arcane process of transforming requirements into code using complex mathematics and calculus. These programs don’t have bugs because they can be mathetmatically proven to not have bugs, however in order for this to work the requirements must be 100% correct to start with (or you end up with missing features, but at least you have no bugs: that is, it does exactly what you said it would do, and hopefully you didn’t make any mistakes when you said what it should do).

                      Generally the only things written using these formal methods are mission-critical life and death stuff: the code for hospital equipment, car and machinary control systems, airline systems, space shuttle systems. This code is mega expensive and very very time consuming. No pay roll software would be written in it. This is all a pointless aside, though.

                      Most software is released with minor bugs, however we’re not talking about minor bugs in the Novopay system.

                      You don’t know whether the problems with Novopay are because of “bugs” or “missing features”. I distinctly suggest it is the latter.

                      The media hasn’t divulged whether the bugs were serious or minor.

                      Actually they did, it was something like “147 known issues, 10 of which were serious” or something like that.

                      The fact of the matter remains, Bill English, Hekia Parata and Craig Foss signed off on Novopay after being informed that there were bugs that could compromise the system, which would indicate that they were serious bugs.

                      No, absolutely not true. They were informed that there were “known defects in the system” but that those defects would not stop the roll-out. That’s it. The ministers are not technical experts, and I suggest that asking for technical explanations of the bugs would be a waste of time, because 1. the ministers wouldn’t have the context to understand it, and 2. TalentTwo were probably right that the bugs wouldn’t stop the roll-out, and who would be there to tell them otherwise?

                      To give you an example, I’d estimate that our software has approximately 2,000 unresolved issues. When we come up to a major release, we have a process by which we draw up a short list (usually around 100-200 issues) that we consider need to be fixed before we can release the software. We fix them all and therefore release the software, even though we’re releasing with unresolved issues – just like TalentTwo did.

                      So, despite your obvious qualifications, your claims are largely unfounded Lanthanide.

                      No, it is you who don’t understand the subject at hand, as the responses from others in this thread demonstrates.

                    • Jackal

                      I suspected as much. The broadest (and least helpful) definition of “bug” is “the software doesn’t do what I want it to do”.

                      Well you had better go off and edit Wikipedia, which states:

                      A software bug is an error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program or system that produces an incorrect or unexpected result, or causes it to behave in unintended ways.

                      We haven’t even got past the first paragraph on Wikipedia before it starts telling you that you’re wrong Lanthanide.

                      So unless you’re arguing that Talent2 intended Novopay not to work, the media is correct in using the word bug to describe what’s wrong with the Novopay system.

                      To give you an example of why this is an unhelpful definition, consider notepad in windows, hopefully you’re familiar with it. Under that definition of bug, I can say “man, notepad doesn’t let me add pictures into the documents I create, it’s a bug”. Except notepad was never designed to let you add pictures to documents: it’s purpose is to be a simple text-only editor. Calling this a bug is unhelpful because it is clearly a feature request.

                      Yes! The lack of a design feature is not a bug. This debate has become ridiculous and I have better things to do.

                    • Lanthanide

                      “So unless you’re arguing that Talent2 intended Novopay not to work, the media is correct in using the word bug to describe what’s wrong with the Novopay system.”

                      It’s clear that you don’t even know what I’m talking about. I am specifically argueing with the media picking up and reporting the line about 147 software defects, 10 of which were major (but nothing big enough to stop the roll-out), as if that was an important point.

                      That’s it. Nothing more.

                      The reason I am picking on it has been the purpose of all of my replies: if Novopay say that they have 147 unresolved defects, but that none of them are show-stoppers, then we should take them at their word. It’s an unimportant / uninteresting minor fact precisely because all software has bugs, but the media picked it up because it sounds scary and like a damning indictment of the software, when truly it is an standard and unexceptional outcome for a software project of this size.

                      The true damning indictment is that they “met or nearly met” 7 of the 8 criteria. This speaks of unfinished or unimplemented features/requirements.

                • Andrew Scobie

                  “The point is that programers who fix bugs are usually a bit specialized, whereas programers who write code usually aren’t.”

                  WTF? seriously? in what universe would that be?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I love how Jackal just keeps digging and digging and digging. Wait he’s going to have a go at you next.

                    • Jackal

                      You’re the main reason The Standard’s page views have been steadily declining CV.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I have the power mate. Bow down before my page view suppressor.

                    • Andrew Scobie

                      “You’re the main reason The Standard’s page views have been steadily declining CV”

                      A bit harsh from someone who has no comments on their own blog?

                    • TheContrarian

                      It’s because Jackal deletes comments he doesn’t like and bans people who challenge him.

                    • Jackal

                      Colonial Viper

                      I have the power mate. Bow down before my page view suppressor.

                      I don’t think the fact that your negative commentary is stopping people from visiting The Standard is a joking matter CV… Especially as the main right wing blogs are increasing their pageviews while The Standard steadily declines.

                      Andrew Scobie

                      A bit harsh from someone who has no comments on their own blog?

                      There’s a few thousand comments on The Jackal blog Andrew… The point is that Coronial Wiper’s continued personal attacks and tr0lling of other peoples comments is detrimental to this site.

                      Here’s the effect (although I’m sure many won’t appreciate me highlighting the problem):

                      The Standard’s pageviews have decreased by 36% between October 2012 and January 2013.

                      To be fair, it’s not just CV… There’s a number of other commentators who don’t make for good reading.

                      There also seems to be a lack of articles in comparison to the right wing blogs and the whole anti-Shearer diatribe that occurred recently turned many people off (especially Labour supporters) from reading The Standard.

                      TheContrarian

                      It’s because Jackal deletes comments he doesn’t like and bans people who challenge him.

                      There’s a process I follow that’s perhaps a bit harsher than the admin here. However it’s not a process in the way you describe.

                      There’s currently nobody banned from commenting at The Jackal blogsite… Care to make up some other rubbish TC?

                    • r0b []

                      The Standard’s pageviews have decreased by 36% between October 2012 and January 2013.

                      Our page views always crater in January. It’s almost like folk are on holiday and not reading the Web or something. Spooky.

                    • TheContrarian

                      You banned me and deleted my comments some time back.

                      Don’t know if I am still banned because why bother commenting on a blogsite which deletes comments it doesn’t like?

                    • Jackal

                      r0b

                      Our page views always crater in January. It’s almost like folk are on holiday and not reading the Web or something. Spooky.

                      So how do you explain the main right wing websites increasing their pageviews then r0b?

                      People usually have more time to read things when they’re on holiday, which is what I put down to a 25% increase in traffic on The Jackal blogsite within the same timeframe.

                      TheContrarian

                      You banned me and deleted my comments some time back.

                      You attacked the author on spurious grounds TC… What usually happens when you do that sort of thing?

                      Don’t know if I am still banned because why bother commenting on a blogsite which deletes comments it doesn’t like?

                      You may have noticed that I said nobody is currently banned from The Jackal blogsite, which by normal deductive reasoning would include yourself.

                    • r0b []

                      So how do you explain the main right wing websites increasing their pageviews then r0b?

                      I don’t, I’ve never looked at stats for the right wing blogs. All I can tell you is that our stats always drop in January, and it seems obvious to me that it’s because folk are on holiday. (Perhaps righties don’t get out much and like to holiday at their computers?). Certainly we writers are on holiday – hardly anything gets posted in the early weeks of Jan. Again – other bloggers milage may vary…

                    • TheContrarian

                      “You attacked the author on spurious grounds TC… What usually happens when you do that sort of thing?”

                      Ummm, no I questioned the author on very reasonable ground.

                      But hey, if you can’t take criticism and have to ban and delete as opposed to discuss then that’s your own failing

                    • Tim

                      Rob: Take a step back and see http://thestandard.org.nz/open-mike-08022013/#comment-586328

                      Can anyone tell me (considering in context of technological advancement) that they’re better off – i.e. things are more efficient and effective, accountable, responsive and whatever other bulsh marker you want to apply) than they were with whatever the status quo ante was? (Let ALONE the additional costs)

                      Admittedly I’ve not actually read ALL the above ‘Intelectual Interchange of Ideas’ [or III, better still…3I for the bullshit artists] because the failures that now provide evidence of ideologically applied dogma are so widespread, they’ve become boring, and mostly a waste of time to read when life becomes more and more precious.

                      This whole Talent2 thing IS (and always was) a complete load of kaka!

                      The saddest thing is that we’re all still (as far as I can see) putting emphasis on how bad the technology is and how to fix it – RATHER than the fact that real people are being affected to the extent that their personal lives are becoming completely fucked – all in order to serve a few IT salesmen, politicians and others frikken EGO’s.

                      Please! Even GIVEN the info released to date – NovaPay (or NOPay – apply as you see fit, and whatever and whoever you choose to apply blame to) – IS A PIECE OF SHIT.

                      The only surprising thing is that we’ve been here before – SEVERAL times.

                      Hey, just btw….where’s that ‘Oh I’m the great pretender, connected and an expert Master of the Universe’ MoReece Willydick in all of this?
                      During the 90’s – that shallow prick contributed in no small way to the status of what we now refer to as IT….C.
                      I always wondered whether he [read ‘He’…the cat’s whisker, AS WELL AS those he held in his favour such as friends, family and so on] ever held shares in Telecom. Safer bet than a Lotto Lucky Dup

                    • fenderviper

                      Jackal,

                      “You’re the main reason The Standard’s page views have been steadily declining CV.”

                      You may be taking this “CV doesn’t have faith in Shearer” grudge a bit too far Jackal.

                      “To be fair, it’s not just CV… There’s a number of other commentators who don’t make for good reading.”

                      Would those be the ones that don’t endorse Shearer?

                    • Te Reo Putake

                      “To be fair, it’s not just CV… There’s a number of other commentators who don’t make for good reading.”

                      Having been called a few choice names in recent days for comments that might well have been applauded if the targets were right wing loons instead of immature lefties has given me some pause for thought. Just my two cents worth, but the lack of fresh right wing meat may have lead to us commentators feeding on each other in recent months. So, I promise in future to be less contrarian, more on message and generally agreeable and I will, er, I will …

                      Ah, fuck it. As you were, people.

      • mickysavage 3.1.2

        If the company judged that the bugs were not critical and it was possible to release with them, then you should trust their judgement.

        Agreed Lanth but if the missing criteria was the handling of part time teachers’ pay do you think the go live instruction should have been given?

        I also agree that some more detail would be helpful such as what the bugs were and when it was thought they were going to be fixed but there is no sign that any of the ministers asked what should have been glaringly obvious questions.

        • Lanthanide 3.1.2.1

          “Agreed Lanth but if the missing criteria was the handling of part time teachers’ pay do you think the go live instruction should have been given?”

          Yeah, I’m specifically responding to the media’s highlighting of ‘known bugs’ as being some huge red warning flag, when in reality it simply isn’t (again, assuming the company is doing their job properly in the first place and there aren’t serious unknown bugs lurking in the code).

          I think this is more a case of improper requirements gathering, or simply incomplete software implementation, rather than bugs. Those are the sorts of things that could imply a specific criteria had been missed.

          Certainly without any details provided, as a minister I’d be more concerned about 7 out of 8 criteria being “met or nearly met” than I would about known non-critical software defects.

          It seems obvious given the past poor performance of TalentTwo with many missed deadlines and quality issues, that a much more cautious approach should have been taken, at the very least with a much wider testing and staged rollout should have happened.

      • McFlock 3.1.3

        Some unimportant or undetected bugs is one thing.
        Activating a new system with no backup when it’s unclear if any of the required specs have been met (what was it – 7 out of 8 “met or close to being met”) is another thing entirely.

        • Lanthanide 3.1.3.1

          Yes, agreed.

        • Tiresias 3.1.3.2

          This isn’t just any old software you can roll out with a few bugs and missing features to be made up later with patches and servive packs and upgrades. This by its very nature was something that had to work 99.9% right fom day 1 – because it’s cumulative. What it does on day 2 depends on what happens on day 1, and what it does on day 3 depends on that data it stored on day 2, and what happens on day 100 is entirely dependent on what happened in the previous 99 days. You can’t just pull the plug, fix it, reboot it and start again afresh from day 1.

          In fact it’s a classic case of digital chinese-whispers where small errors going right back to the beginning get magnifed into a cascade effect across the entire system.

          I don’t believe this is some dastardly plot by a Union-hating government to get back at the teachers. A) if it was it would be by far the most subtly clever and effective thing it has done by a long way, and B) no way would Talent2 be staying silent watching its reputation go down the gurgler just to enable a petty governmental vendetta. This is simply a technically ignorant, penny-pinching Government letting itself be talked by a flash salesman into saving a few million by buying a the car at the back of the lot with an assurance that there might be a bit of rust here and there but “she’ll be all right”, and not even looking under the bonnet.

          Like most people who do that – when they’re young usually, well I was anyway – you end up paying out a whole lot more trying to keep it running than you would have spent buying a decent car to start with and it eventually lets you down anyway.

          • Matthew Whitehead 3.1.3.2.1

            Actually, to be clear, a payroll system of itself is NOT cumulative. To deal with PAYE in the ideal way, it has to deal with cumulative tax calculations, however.

  4. RJL 4

    I think it is a cock-up.

    However, I am sure that the likes of Joyce will see (and take) the opportunity to “fix” the system.

  5. The illegal strike action planned for 19 February in Christchurch is a sign the the sleeping giant of the generally compliant education sector is waking. NZEI has only gone on strike twice before in its 130 year history, it takes a Government as bad as this and treatment as appalling as this to take this kind of action. National’s hate for teachers is largely because they demand evidence for decisions and collaboration with any change and this is the antithesis of how National operates.

  6. Erentz 6

    Amazing example of incompetence at all levels. But unfortunately it will all be swept under the rug and no lessons will be learned come the next big government project.

    How on earth are we going to rebuild IRDs FIRST system, a paltry 1 billion dollar project to replace the entire tax system, if we can’t get a simple payroll system.

    I know it’s sometimes dangerous to say such things. But I really don’t understand these failings. They are all entirely down to an amazing case of mismanagement. Things like not having a web interface for uploading part time data and having to email it? It’s so inanely simple to develop such things and web you’ve had several years to do it. my mind absolutely boggles wondering what was going on inside talent2 and the ministry. You’re not exactly building the next google.

    • Hayden 6.1

      It’s so inanely simple to develop such things and web you’ve had several years to do it. my mind absolutely boggles wondering what was going on inside talent2 and the ministry. You’re not exactly building the next google.

      Exactly. Apparently it’s going to take 2 years to fix, but a handful of programmers should be able to build it from scratch in 1 year, if not less. It almost seems as though Government goes for the highest bidder in any tender process, as if the most expensive product is obviously the best.

    • Tim 6.2

      @ E… for the very same reasons as people have identified elsewhere (from memory on an OPEN MIKE a couple of days ago) – and for the reasons some Otago Uni fellas identified quite adequately several years ago. DATANET, INCIS, ABYSS (aka IBIS), a plethora of Health system projects, PlanWISE, etc., etc., etc.
      Same shit different stink as they say. I’m only really familiar with DATANET, ABYSS and PlanWISE in any depth, except that I did have contact with a IBM fella from the US involved with INCIS.
      Amazing too that often the good work some do gets besmirched (such as with INCIS and PlanWISE) whilst the culprits move on to the very next bugger’s muddle.
      For some reason, there always seems to be bean counters and non-tech people lacking trust in those that actually do have the nouse (and perhaps with good reason – I’ve seen some dooozies)…. but their interference in IT projects, their wish to go for add-ons and shifting goal posts never ceases to amaze me.

      Good luck with whatever it is that IRD wants.

  7. TheContrarian 7

    Sounds like total incompetence to me.

    From Labour, Talent2, National and everyone who was supposed to be testing the thing.

    A total fuck-up on every count

    • One Tāne Huna 7.1

      Can you outline what the Labour incompetence was? Can you explain how Labour was in any way responsible for the decision to go live with a buggy system?

      How do you know the National Party hadn’t “cut out the backroom wastage” that was “supposed to be testing the thing”?

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        Labour was the one to sign the contract and they really shouldn’t have signed with such a young company. But, then, I suppose rear vision is 20/20

        • One Tāne Huna 7.1.1.1

          “they really shouldn’t have signed with such a young company.”

          I have some sympathy with that opinion.

        • McFlock 7.1.1.2

          Dunno. My workplace uses Talent2 fine. There were some issues re:shift workers, but it was resolved quickly.

          There is a possibility that labour agreed crap deliverables, but by the sound of it the nats/minEd hoped that the cost of implementing a subpar system would be lower than the cost of calling talent2 out on a contract default, or procrastinated the decision until the situation was unrecoverable. Either of those options is poor supervision by the minister.

          • TheContrarian 7.1.1.2.1

            New Zealand Police use Peoplesoft and they used to have a shitload of problems.
            Not sure if they have sorted it out yet either

      • Tim 7.1.2

        I could ask OTH, WHO the other people were, asked to provide a “solution”, and what the process was that was used for the selection of Talent2 – over and above the others that tendered (if they did).
        You’ll recall that Helen was always a stickler (if that’s what the expression is) – for “Process”.

        I’m thinking that no formal process was ever applied, and IF it was, then I’d put money on a load of pop-up egos we see repeatedly were involved.

        • Pascal's bookie 7.1.2.1

          Or you could not be such a lazy shit and read the docs.

          Would probably pay to do that before you put the money down, tbh.

          • Tim 7.1.2.1.1

            It’s not laziness btw PB – its disability – but never mind …. would if I could and I don;t plane on going into detail on here for the sake of bitchiness

    • This is a line that has been spun a few times.

      All Labour did was tell Talent2 to go away and design a payroll system that was web based and data could be entered directly online.

      Talent2 said “yeah sure”.

      Then Labour was thrown out of office.

      Difficulties then arose and it became clear to all that what Talent2 had designed was a dog of a system and would not work.

      Despite this, and despite being told about all of the bugs three National Ministers approved the go live recommendation.

      And this is all Labour’s fault?

      Spare me …

      • TheContrarian 7.2.1

        I never said it ‘was all Labours fault’. But I’ll retract anyway.

        I was just reacting to a post I saw of Bomber’s where blames National for the purchase of Novopay when he knows that wasn’t the case.

        Anyway – retracting.

        • NoseViper (The Nose knows) 7.2.1.1

          TC If National signed off on it – THEY PURCHASED the Novopay package. That’s the way it works in business. You place the order and you pay for it and you get what you paid for, and you should make sure it’s what you want beforehand.

          • TheContrarian 7.2.1.1.1

            “TC If National signed off on it – THEY PURCHASED the Novopay package. ”

            “The Novopay contract was signed off in September 2008 by the previous Labour government.”

            http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/politics/7996945/Banks-clarifies-link-to-Novopay-firm

            “11/8/2008 Minister Carter signs contract with Talent2”

            http://www.minedu.govt.nz/~/media/MinEdu/Files/TheMinistry/NovopayProject/Background/MemoNovopayChronology.pdf

            But it is a moot point because it was the roll-out, not the purchase that is the problem

            • higherstandard 7.2.1.1.1.1

              Until we see the original tender and contract no-one here knows the true nature and size of the cock up – judging by previous IT debacles such as INCIS this is just more of the same. Most reasonable commercial contracts would be written in such a way that the govt should be in a position to sue Novopay’s owners to within a mm of bankruptcy.

              • Colonial Viper

                It would be very interesting to see if the Government is utilising all contractual mechanisms available to it. Or whether it’s giving the contractors a free pass.

                • higherstandard

                  From what I understand they’ve gone to Datacom, cap in hand, and asked them to get their system back up and running until Novopay is fixed (or fucked) and Datacom justifiably told them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine.

                  • Nah, Datacom would most likely have told them they’ve shut down their system and the Government would be stuck paying extra for it to be brought online again if they wanted it even for backup purposes, and they’d need a time period of years to do so. Again, this is why a paralell rollout should have been done.

                    • higherstandard

                      I suspect a parallel rollout was not an option under the original tender/RFP which was probably a winner takes all type proposal.

      • Tim 7.2.2

        @ MickyS – but did they tell ONLY Talent 2 to go away and design a payroll system or did they go through a legit RFP process?
        I’m wondering – I genuinely don’t know because (thankfully) I’m out of that industry of wheel re-inventors, egotists, people who define themselves by perceptions of their own cleverness, job title and employment status.
        I’d actually like to know though because it’d be a case of do as I say (abide by process designed to be fair), rather than as I do. (I know often “process” seems like bullshit, but was Talent2 the ONLY set of wankers told to go away and design a payroll system?) – If So – there goes another reason for me (NAct – lite won’t be getting my vote)

  8. Matthew Hooton 8

    It is extremely unlikely there is any link to any secret bulk funding plans, even if they actually exist. Under bulk funding, teachers are still paid under the central payroll system (it is just that schools get to choose how many teachers to employ and at what levels on the collective contract pay scale, within a fixed budget). So if you did have secret plans to implement bulk funding you would want your central pay roll system working properly first. Of course, it is possible that Parata didn’t know this, and thought, by saying yes to novopay, that she was implementing a cunning conspiracy to push bulk funding but, in a sense, that would be giving her too much credit.

    • One Tāne Huna 8.1

      🙄

    • Lanthanide 8.2

      I reckon it’s a backdoor trial of performance pay, rather than bulk funding. Now they’re simply not paying teachers anything, or paying them huge amounts, depending on their performance.

    • bad12 8.3

      i reckon that you being on the tory pecking order quite a number of steps below Hekia that you don’t know s**t from sugar except what those at the top of the food chain tell you like Hekia to parrot to the masses,

      Your only slight saving grace a the moment is you appear to have shat the very large plum which was previously constricting your vocal abilities although i fear that you may have retention issues which wont allow you to pass the seed successfully…

  9. NoseViper (The Nose knows) 9

    Novopayn. A Principal this morning on Radionz said that some Principals before Christmas had to pay staff out of their own pockets. The departmental and program staff were on holiday. Some have had to use credit cards.

    It has a resonance of the debacle after Muldoon’s refusal to accept the reality of having lost his role and mana and the control of the nation’s finances, when David Lange said money difficulties were so bad that diplomatic staff had to support their operation with their own credit cards.

  10. Fortran 10

    Can somebody please tell me that if Novopay disaster, as at present, having been signed off by MOE senior staff, and advised “to go” for Ministers to sign off –

    How would Labour handle this situation from hereon ?

    It is easy to criticise, but how about a suggested solution.
    The previous payroll company do not want a bar of it -they were happy to see the end of it, as they also had problems.

    Constructive comment please as this can be used to hold the Nacts to account politically rather than shout abuse.

    • TheContrarian 10.1

      ^^^ Good post

    • felixviper 10.2

      The clue is in the “if”.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.3

      Dedicated government IT department responsible for researching and developing all the governments needed software. This should bring about significant institutional knowledge over time that would help prevent BS like this happening.

      But that’s me and not Labour. Labour will continue the present use of private contractors and so we’ll keep getting shit like this.

    • McFlock 10.4

      There’s a couple of issues that come down to approach.

      Firstly, there’s how often ministers were updated on the progress of a major project. It almost looks like Labour gave the go ahead to start the contract, then nothing happened for three years until ministers rubberstamped whatever was in front of them. A better minister (not really a party thing, other than the general incompetence of the current cabinet) would have had progress updates and maybe intervened sooner, or even claimed default on the contract at the early stage before the costs of exit were as big as the costs of continuing.

      Secondly, there’s the issue of signing off the go live authorisation before all the ducks were in a row. How costly would it have been to ask which targets were operational and how close was the package to 100% status? I might have missed the memo where the ministry said that delay on it was impossible or prohibitive. Otherwise there was not good reason to go live before the project was 100% ready. My guess is that all concerned were worried that another delay, however brief, would have been bad publicity. They chose … poorly.

  11. Richard Down South 11

    At what point are they breaking the law on non payment of wages?

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      Not being a lawyer though…

      A pattern of missed or incorrect pays suggests either bad faith on the employer’s part, or an inability of the Ministry to meet the reasonable obligations expected of any employer. So from about that point.

      Plus if an employee has suffered costs and hardship through the employer’s actions/inaction (missed APs or mortgage payments leading to extra fees etc) they would have a reasonable claim for expenses plus damages.

  12. ianmac 12

    Let us suppose it was an accident that NOVA pay was a mess/cockup.
    Along comes Mr Joyce. OK it’s a mess. So how can he capitalise on the mess?
    Deliver the Bulk Funding to each school and they become their own paymasters. (And while you are at it Mr Joyce slip in Performance Pay based on success with National Standards.)
    Would Joyce/Key be this devious do you think?

    • tc 12.1

      I like your style, solves a few issues under the mask of an emergency, Nice work.

      Payroll is like aircraft systems they should have NO major flaws, only cosmetic minor ones that DO NOT impact gross/tax/nett and payment into recipients banks/IRD etc.

      cock up, incompetance whatever, heads should roll and ministers should be held accountable. End of story.

    • McFlock 12.2

      that is scary plausible. TINA the “solution” as a temporary measure in time of exigency, and just not come up with a replacement. Ouch.

      • Colonial Viper 12.2.1

        In a few months, principles and teachers alike will be begging the Ministry to be bulk funded.

  13. Scintilla 13

    You all realise, don’t you, that those stroppy secondary teachers quietly settled their Collective Agreement for 2013-2015 in December 2012? No strikes, no drama, no media hype.

    Teachers are keeping their powder dry to fight Charter schools and Novopay. I think Joyce will pull the plug before teachers feel it is necessary to strike.

  14. Daveosaurus 14

    I’d be interested in seeing a timeline comparing Cabinet’s being warned that Novopay was going pear-shaped, with Banks’ shareholdings in Talent2.

  15. bbfloyd 15

    Just stopped in to see if this site had cleaned up it’s act… Nope… still just a bunch of whiners, and apologists(lanthanide)… the typical chardonnay socialist whinges and wrings their hands over the “injustice” of tory theft, and societal sabotage, but is still happy to profit from that same abuse of power (lanth again)…

    Javkal is partly right… the readership is deserting… and for good reasons… Articles stating the bleeding obvious, combined with an inner clique of commenters that are obviously playacting at having some sort of “influence”, whilst stupidly ignoring thoughtful, and multi faceted comments, or attacking lifelong socialists using utterly innappropriate insults such as “right wing nut job”, thereby proving no more than a serious lack of true intelligence on the part of the majority of the “insiders”….

    Earth to “standardistas”… you are officially irrelevant… this site is now just an internet circle jerk…. bloody shame really… there was an opportunity to have apositive impact on necessary public debate, and it was blown away on a tide of egoism, and dishonesty….

    Pseudo intellectualism will always be exposed for what it is eventually… and this sites inner circle has been shown up… bye bye losers… I look forward to this site becoming anonimous any day soon…

    Although i know some of you halfwits won’t be able to resist some sort of bitchy comeback(lanthanide, lprent) you are wasting your time… I won’t be engaging at this low a level again….. I prefer proper debate.. One that has room for philosophical ideas to be aired, rather than just throwing “links” at each other, and descending into irrelevant minutae, or just straight out egotripping….

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      Javkal is partly right… the readership is deserting…

      Earth to “standardistas”… you are officially irrelevant… this site is now just an internet circle jerk….

      lprent, could you add some figures to these comments? How have page views and unique readership done over the last 12 months. I was under the impression from your last update things were going fine.

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