news The Queensland Government has committed to replacing the ageing payroll systems used to support its emergency services (police, fire and ambulance) workers with a cloud computing platform, in the second major planned deployment of a cloud payroll application in the state following its billion-dollar on-premises payroll disaster at Queensland Health.
Queensland Health’s payroll systems upgrade, kicked off in 2007 and still suffering lengthy delays and budget overruns that have so far cost the Queensland Government more than $1.2 billion, was fundamentally intended as an upgrade of the department’s ageing Lattice and ESP software, which had been progressively implemented from 1996.
Following the extensive problems with the upgrade, which was based on an on-premises deployment of SAP’s ECC5 and Infor’s Workbrain software, in June last year the state committed to adopting a “cloud-first” approach to major enterprise IT projects, in a move which the state’s IT Minister Ian Walker hoped would avoid the problems associated with huge, monolithic software deployments.
The first example of such a deployment has been plans to consolidate eight “outmoded and heavily customised” payroll IT systems being used by the Department of Science, IT, Innovation and the Arts. That plan for that project is for it to be delivered as a managed service run by an external provider, although Queensland has not explicitly said it will be based on a software as a service (cloud computing) model.
However, this month the State Government revealed a second major payroll systems consolidation which will be explicitly deployed using a SaaS model.
Like the failed Queensland Health payroll systems upgrade, the project will also see Lattice-based payroll systems upgraded at a major department; in fact, two — the Queensland Police Service and Fire and Emergency Services. In total, the project has a budget of $101.5 million, and it will service the payroll and human resources needs of many thousands of staff.
As first reported by iTNews this week, information can be found about the project in two places. Firstly, the Queensland Government’s ICT Dashboard maintains an entry about the project, stating its budget, its start date (1 September 2012) and its planned end date (30 June 2016). The project has currently been rated as “Amber” by the dashboard, a rating which is given to projects which are still within ‘tolerance’ limits, but which are ‘pushing the bounds’.
The dashboard states that the Queensland Government’s recent Police and Community Safety Review delayed the Cabinet Budget Review Commission requesting approval to progress the project to the point where a request for tender for it could be issued.
A second source of data on the project was published this month on the state’s tendering system. It states that the Department of Community Safety had listed a tendering effort for the project on its forward procurement schedule. It is here that the Department (in the form of the Public Safety Business Agency, which supports the emergency services) acknowledged that it was planning to go to a SaaS model for the platform.
“The Public Safety Business Agency (PSBA) will be seeking offers from organisations (either Prime Contractor or a Consortium with a nominated Prime Contractor) with the capacity and capability for the provision of: Core Human Resource and Payroll Business-Process-as-a Service (BPaaS); and
Human Capital Management (HCM) Software-as-a-service (SaaS),” the document states.
The revelation that Queensland plans to deploy this major HR/payroll system as a cloud computing project comes as other State Governments are pursuing similar plans.
In August last year, the NSW State Government claimed initial success in its high-profile deployment of a cloud-based ERP consolidation project at the NSW agency of Trade and Investment, claiming that so far the project has been delivered “on time and on budget”, but with a large chunk of the work still to go.
The deployment, announced in July 2012, involves the transition and consolidation of NSW Trade & Investment’s legacy ERP system including 16 agencies – totalling over 8,500 employees – onto a single, consolidated SAP cloud platform. “As part of the three-year, $14.5 million agreement SAP will deliver a range of cloud solutions that includes SAP Business ByDesign, SAP Payroll, and cloud consulting services,” said SAP when the deal was announced.
The agency, according to SAP, expects to deliver savings of more than $12.5 million annually by enabling greater efficiencies across the entire organisation. At the time, SAP said the deal represented its largest Business ByDesign win globally, and the first cloud platform win in the Australian public sector. It is being deployed by Consulting Networks, part of the CN Group of companies.
The news also comes as enterprise IT analyst firm Gartner has recently warned that large, monolithic and heavily customised in-house enterprise resource planning systems will be relegated to the status of “legacy ERP” over the next several years, as smaller, nimbler and often cloud computing-based alternatives eat the lunch of this old mainstay of the IT application portfolio.
Looks like the Queensland Government is very serious about its ‘cloud-first’ pronouncement. We’re seeing the pedal hit the metal here in terms of major software as a service deployments. This payroll system, if it is implemented, will shortly become one of the largest SaaS payroll deployments within the Australian public sector. Very interesting.