Qld Health complexity tests IBM

Qld Health complexity tests IBM

Summary: IBM has described the SAP-based payroll/HR system it is implementing for Queensland Health as the most complicated it has ever seen in Australia.


IBM has described the SAP-based payroll/HR system it is implementing for Queensland Health as the most complicated it has ever seen in Australia.

Queensland ICT Minister Robert Schwarten
(Credit: Queensland government)

"I do not have the letter with me, but IBM wrote to me today and said that it is the most complicated system that they have ever had to deal with in Australia," Queensland ICT Minister Robert Schwarten told a Queensland budget estimates committee yesterday. IBM would be able to implement the system in three years instead of five, he said.

"Health would probably be the most complex department in terms of the award structures, the rostering that is required and the geographic diversity of people throughout the state," director general of the state's Department of Public Works and Queensland Government CIO Mal Grierson said.

Queensland had been hoping to roll all government departments onto one new SAP payroll/HR system. However, the credit crisis and the amalgamation of departments into 13 instead of over 20 had changed the focus to standardising and modernising financial systems. At least each new larger agency should internally have the same finance system, Grierson said.

"We looked at the state of the systems across the agencies. We realised that we had a variety of SAP versions out there. There were about five different versions of finance systems. So we have changed direction and have now moved to upgrade our finance systems, starting with the Department of Community Safety, to the modern last release of SAP," Grierson said.

Now the agency hopes to move to four or five payroll systems and two or three finance systems. Schwarten believed this would not incur any extra costs.

Topics: IBM, CXO, Government, Government AU, Health, SAP, IT Employment

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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  • Typical for Health

    EVERYTHING about Qld Health is about the most complicated that you can get. Rather than choosing a platform and sticking to it, Qld Health architects go out and pick the domain best product or solution.
    While this might sound good to Uni lecturers and academics, the result is a 1000 disparate, interconnected systems from different vendors, that result in massive upgrade, maintenance and support headaches. Go health.
  • Toil the Earth

    Guess we'll be hearing about the next slippage in the time line.

    IBM left out they are the most complex, difficult and obstinate IT company to deal with and spend more time ensuring they can blame shift project delays rather than delivering something.....
  • Overly Complex

    Nothing like using a highly inflexible platform that is very, very costly to adapt to something outside its core functionality - another grandiose project from the QLD SAP mafia.
  • Qld Health complexity tests IBM

    Please don't bother to comment unless you actually understand this particular issue. Two of the comments appear to be more of a gripe about missing out on IT contracts with QH or some other Govt dept.
    As stated by Anonymous, the issue is IBM. They take on a piece of work focussed primarily on the $$ prize, but with little understanding of the actual requirements or the suitability of their solution. They offered an untried HR/Pay solution & then bemoan the fact that it's all too complex & blame everyone else. Someone should have done the due diligence on the IBM offer 5 years ago. BTW QH has had a single SAP system (finance & procurement) for over 12 years, as well as a single payroll / HR system for about the same length of time. Additionally this issue has nothing to do with QH system architects. They have no decision, input or influence what so ever on the selection of an ERP system. This is a part of a whole of Govt process tied up in an unholy mess otherwise known as "Shared Services".
  • The most complex ?

    Very complicated, yes!. The most complicated, probably not. IBM's fault, partially. Queensland Health's fault, partially. SAP's fault, probably not. There are many public sector agencies across Australia and the globe running SAP payroll successfully with far less pain.

    So what is the issue ? SAP (or Oracle for that matter) is a packaged piece of software. The less flexible the organisation is (hiding beind the complexities of the industrial relations "industry") and the more you try to bend the packaged software to meet non-standard requirements, the more, time,effort and money you will consume. In the case of Queensland Health this is definitely at one end of the spectrum.
  • Health

    Maybe they should have gone for an Australian payroll/HR system that is successfully being used for HEALTH in 2 states.
  • Spot on...but QH please do something

    Anonymous #3 has hit the nail on the head. Sure it's hard work, but it's certainly not the most complicated. IBM would not have been able to deliver this on any platform. Their capability in ERP established through acquisition of PWC is long gone. The only people left in IBM are those they were either not good enough or brave enough to move on. The team is mostly contractors that lack consistency and cohesion - the blind leading the blind. The question here is why QH keep them on? Dump them for poor performance and breach of contract i say before they deliver an unsupportable pile of rubbish to the bunch of vulture contractors on the otherside of the fence waiting to get their next turn at the trough.
  • exactly...

    I agree completely - just look at Brisbane city council, a lesson in making the simple front page news.
  • Waste of Money

    This Whole of Government project for payroll has been rolling on now for nearly 6 years with nearly a billon dollars going down the tube. Currently there are only 1200 live employees. If Senior Public Servants listen to its own instead of the contractors who were going to make all the money in the first place QLD government and the Public Service would not be in the financial and de-motivated state we are in presently.