Severe payroll problems arising directly from the Los Angeles Unifed School District's (LAUSD) SAP implementation continue unabated. Back in June, payroll problems had reached a boiling point, with the school union threatening boycotts and a lawsuit.
According to eWeek, the situation has not improved:
The situation for teachers—the vast majority of employees hit by the payroll snafu—is only getting worse as the district struggles to get the system errors corrected in time for tax season and other regulatory deadlines.
In the meantime, teachers are tired of waiting. The UTLA (United Teachers of Los Angeles) union has called for rolling boycotts of after-school administrative meetings on four separate dates in October. Two strikes are scheduled next week, on Oct. 8 and 9.
LAUSD teachers are paid once a month. In June, the worst month for system errors, about 30,000 paychecks were issued with errors. In September, an additional 3,800 teachers reported errors, according to media reports.
To understand more about the situation, I spoke with Marla Eby, Director of Communications for the union (United Teachers Los Angeles). According to Eby:
“Teacher payroll is complex, however, the old system did work. The system was rolled out too quickly, and without sufficient testing. The union requested that the system be run in parallel prior to full roll out, to ensure these problems would not occur. The school district chose not to follow this advice for budget reasons, which is ironic given all the cost overruns now. In some cases, union members must wait in line 4-6 hours to get their paycheck. From a union perspective, both SAP and Deloitte Consulting are at fault.
The issue of risk versus cost is always difficult. In this case, the attempt to save money on testing and roll out resulted in massive problems and cost overruns. Obviously, implementation management made some poor choices along the way. The most extraordinary aspect of this situation is that it's been going on since last February.
An after-hours email to SAP for further information was not immediately returned.
Related: Arizona State University has also suffered from payroll-related implementation problems. Click here to read more.
Update 10/8/07: According to a union press release obtained after this post was written:
The teachers’ union has rented an RV and will be at LAUSD “night and day” around the October 5th payroll date, providing moral support for teachers and health and human services professionals and keeping watch over the LAUSD response to the payroll crisis. UTLA officers will be meeting with teachers, providing refreshments and offering members the opportunity to videotape a message to the school board.
Since its introduction in February, the LAUSD payroll system’s flaws have resulted in tens of thousands of teachers and other employees being underpaid, overpaid or not paid at all. Problems have continued each month, despite District promises to the contrary. It is unclear whether the problems with the payroll system can be resolved.
UPDATE 10/15/07: For more information and the latest analysis, see this post.