TAFE NSW could take longer to deploy its new $80 million-plus student management system than first envisaged, as it tries to mitigate business risks associated with the “complex piece of work”.
The Oracle-based system is currently being developed to replace the education and training provider's now infamous Tribal solution that caused major issues when introduced as part of the state's learning management and business reform (LMBR).
DXC-owned Red Rock was chosen in September last year to deliver the system using a phased approach over 18 to 24 months.
But the “complex piece of work” – so described by TAFE NSW's chief information officer David Backley – is facing the prospect of delays at a time when the existing system continues to experience data accuracy issues.
An annual audit of the government’s industry cluster released by the state’s audit office last week casts doubt on the agency meeting the planned go-live.
“Modules of the new student enrolment system were planned to be in place in May 2019,” the auditor said.
“However, TAFE NSW has advised that this date is being reassessed.
The auditor also indicated that TAFE NSW expected to “spend up to $89 million” on the new system – just under $6 million more than the existing $83.2 million deal.
A spokesperson for TAFE NSW told iTnews it was “carefully managing the transition to minimise impacts on students, staff and customers”, but wouldn't indicate when the “complex piece of work” would go-live.
“Given the significance of the program, it’s important to take the time and care necessary to ensure that SMS is introduced successfully,” the spokesperson said.
“TAFE NSW remains on track to complete the build in March, which will enable detailed user testing and training from April, prior to implementation.
“TAFE will transition to the new system only when it is confident this critical infrastructure is working effectively, and its implementation will pose no risk to business continuity.”
Despite facing deadline stresses, a number of releases have already been deployed, resulting in “improved course search, a faster response to student enquiries and better tools for customer service staff”.
“Two of three significant releases have already been successfully deployed, which included rolling out Australia’s largest tertiary education sector Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system,” the spokesperson said.
When complete, the new SMS is expected to offer students, teachers and staff more than 100 different “simple and user friendly” services.
Continuing data issues
The audit also confirms ongoing system limitations issues with the existing Tribal SMS that first began when the system was deployed in October 2014.
It follows a report by the Sydney Morning Herald in July this year that revealed more than 400,000 marks were not entered into the system.
“TAFE NSW has experienced issues with its student administration system since 2014-15,” the auditor said.
“These system limitations have again required additional process to verify the accuracy and completeness of revenue from student fees.
“These procedures come at a cost to operations, caused delays in financial reporting and increased resource commitments for staff, contractors and audit.”
The education and training provider has spent millions fixing problems with the existing system, including $6 million in the 2016-17 year to deal with the Tribal platform issues in order to ensure integrity in its financial data.
TAFE NSW was also forced to spend $10 million on accountants to track down $138 million in missing course feeds from the 2014-15.