Queensland rethinks shared services, GCIO role

 

Addresses issues with Health payroll implementation.

Queensland Health, the Department of Education and Training and one other organisation will share responsibility for delivering the state's IT following an external review of its shared services model.

The state government this week accepted all recommendations of PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) review (pdf) of its whole-of-Government IT provider CorpTech.

The review was commissioned in the aftermath of an over-time, over-budget Queensland Health payroll implementation that was blamed for more than 35,000 payroll anomalies.

PwC recommended a mixed approach to deliver the cost benefits associated with centralisation, while allowing large organisations to be faster and more flexible when responding to changes.

Queensland Health and the DET were advised to maintain separate HR and payroll systems, while all other agencies outsourced those tasks to a Shared Service Agency.

"The substantial size of the Queensland Health and DET customer base means that no material additional economies of scale are likely through operation via a central shared services model," PwC wrote.

The state was advised to review its Government Chief Information Officer (GCIO) office to improve consistency, accountability and clarity of responsibilities.

On Tuesday, Queensland's ICT minister Robert Schwarten announced that the recommendations would be implemented as part of a "carefully planned transition project".

He said the Department of Premier and Cabinet's director-general, Ken Smith, would chair a new Shared Services CEO sub-committee that would be accountable for the delivery of shared services across the government.

"We will now consult with all staff and unions regarding the government's implementation of the PwC recommendations," Schwarten said.

"Staff affected by the review of the shared service model will be kept fully informed and supported during the transition to the new model."

Shared payroll needs expertise

According to Jason Lowe, head of The Association for Payroll Specialists (TAPS), organisations tended to underestimate the complexity of payroll processes.

"So many people see payroll as a simple data entry job," he said. "Certainly, Queensland Health has realised that is not the case."

Payroll staff and systems had to account for penalties, duties, overtime, the Australian legal landscape and workplace agreements, Lowe told iTnews.

While Queensland Health's SAP system was "a good system", the organisation may have put too much faith in the system and not enough emphasis on its users and configuration, he said.

He warned organisations against entering into shared payroll environments for cost reasons alone.

"Unfortunately, there's no one [payroll] system that's perfect at everything," he said. "It essentially comes down to personal preference."

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