NSW Education splits LMBR rollout in two

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NSW Education splits LMBR rollout in two

Exclusive: Primary, high schools in staggered go-live.

High school administrators in NSW are facing a two-year wait for the already long-overdue arrival of the state's new finance and student admin platforms for education.

The department informed educators and admin staff last week of new dates for the rollout of the software to schools. It had previously declined to provide a timeline for the implementation.

iTnews can reveal the SAP-based finance, and Tribal ebs4-based student administration and learning management (SALM) rollout will begin to the majority of primary schools in term two of 2016, which begins on 26 April.

High schools will follow in September 2017.

Once that is complete, the department will need to finalise configuration and testing of the HR/payroll solution before it is deployed.

The department refused to comment on the new dates.

A spokesperson for Education Minister Adrian Piccoli confirmed the rollout dates and said primary and high schools had been split for "operational reasons" but declined to comment further.

The new system has been rolled out to a subset of 229 NSW schools as pilot sites.

Premier Mike Baird in September said the remainder of the learning business management reform (LMBR) project was expected to be implemented throughout 2016.

"Yes, the LMBR project has had its challenges. We acknowledge that," Baird told NSW parliament at the time.

"Obviously this is a significant program that brings its own complexities. It is not an easy project to roll out. But we are doing everything we can to get it out as quickly as possible to make as much difference as we can to the schools in this state."

The LMBR project was established to replace legacy finance, human resources, payroll and student administration systems across the department, TAFEs and 2230 public schools.

It was scheduled to be delivered over eight years for $386 million.

The finance software was rolled out to TAFEs in 2010, and to 229 pilot schools in 2013. The 229 pilot schools also received the SALM platform in 2013.

All TAFEs received the HR and payroll systems in 2013, and the SALM system the year after.

But the project has stalled in the last two years, with around 2000 schools still yet to receive the SALM and finance platforms.

Additionally, no schools at all are on the new HR and payroll systems, nor is the Education department itself.

The project is now almost $200 million over its original budget at $579 million, and the department is expected to ask for more funding from the state government to finish the project.

According to NSW auditor Grant Hehir, the major causes of the cost increases and delays to the program are changing requirements and scope, a "high level" of uncertainty in business cases, governance weakness, and lack of program and contract management.

Schools complain of problems with new software

The department will start offering more dedicated training and support for staff from the beginning of next year, after complaints flooded in from schools struggling to resource the system overhaul.

The extra funds expected to be granted to the department will also go towards remediating problems with the software deployed so far.

NSW auditor Grant Hehir last year found more than 70 percent of the 229 pilot schools said the installed components did not deliver on their promise.

Piccoli has previously admitted school staff had found the transition difficult.

"Always when there is a significant change in the administration of an organisation there are going to be people who find the change challenging," he said in September.

"That is the reality of changing something for the first time in 30 years. Part of the technical challenge has been that this organisation, one of the biggest in the country, has 100,000 staff."

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