Company sorry for problem with School pay (computer payroll problem) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Company sorry for problems with school pay

Mike Berry of The Sentinel Staff

Published in The Orlando Sentinel on October 13, 1999.

The head of a software company apologized Tuesday night for the tremendous payroll headaches his product has caused the Orange County school system.

School officials took their share of the blame, too, at a special School Board meeting, saying they must find better ways to communicate with employees.

Hundreds of teachers, substitute teachers, bus drivers and other workers endured incorrect or missing paychecks after the school system switched to a complex new software system in July to become more efficient and Y2K-compliant.

"Let me apologize for the inconvenience and stress," Robert Salvucci, president of SAP Public Sector and Education Inc., told the School Board and dozens of employees who attended.

"It's obviously something we're not happy about and will take full responsibility for," said Salvucci, adding that senior SAP consultants will work on the problems at no charge. The new system cost $10.8 million.

Superintendent Dennis Smith also apologized, saying, "it is unacceptable that our hard-working employees . . . are not paid on time and accurately."

A team of school district officials and consultants updated the board on the problems. Among their points:

The number of employees who failed to get a paycheck dropped from about 1,000 in the school year's first payroll to nine in the latest payroll.

All employees should receive supplemental pay due them by the end of October. This is pay for such duties as coaching.

Paying substitute teachers correctly continues to be a sticky problem because of their unusual schedules. District officials were not sure when that will be resolved.

New paystubs with much better information are in the works. Consultant Linda Fenty said it may be a month or so before employees start seeing them.

An unspecified number of vendors have not been paid because of computer problems, but the district has not incurred late payment penalties, said budget director Henry Boekhoff.

Employees will probably not get back pay from summer raises until the first December payrolls, but Fenty said the district was "working very hard" to move that date up. Employees won't get interest on the delayed raise money.

School Board members said they felt better and more informed after the presentation, but concerns linger.

Board member Bert Carrier said bookkeepers who have had to adjust to the new system have reported huge stress and even loss of sleep adjusting to the new software.

"They're at the end of their ropes," Carrier said.

School officials said they are working to make the system less cumbersome. Much of the payroll problems were blamed on improper training.

One recurrent theme of the meeting was a sense that employees felt helpless and uninformed throughout the crisis.

Board member Linda Sutherland said she was bothered by reports that employees were reluctant to complain publicly. "There are people out there afraid to share what their frustrations are," she said.

Smith said he has assigned a committee to look into ways to improve communications. He said employees who complain will not face retribution.

[Posted 10/13/1999 11:46 AM EST]

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-- Homer Beanfang (, October 18, 1999


Here's what they are apologizing for:


Orange pay problems multiply

Mike Berry of The Sentinel Staff

Published in The Orlando Sentinel on October 12, 1999.

Orange County School Board members will ask tonight whether problems with a new computer system have gone beyond paying employees incorrectly.

Board member Linda Sutherland said she will ask about reports that school district vendors have not been paid on time and employee concerns that retirement money deducted from paychecks has not been sent to investment companies.

The School Board will meet at 7 p.m. with top executives of SAP, a German-based software company that provided the school system with a $10.5 million accounting software system.

Hundreds of employees were not correctly paid after the system went into effect in June. The problem was blamed on software glitches and inadequate staff training.

In addition, vendors have reported being owed thousands of dollars in past due bills, and employees have complained about being unable to order school supplies from those vendors.

One teacher said he has used his own money to buy basic supplies such as pencils, pens and staplers.

"There seems to be no money there," said the teacher. "This has been a real annoyance."

The teacher asked not to be identified, saying employees are under pressure not to complain publicly about the problems.

Other employees are wondering why money taken out of their paychecks four to six weeks ago for retirement investments has not shown up in the accounts of investment companies.

Bob Halback, an English teacher at Edgewater High School, said when he last checked almost $1,000 taken from two paychecks had not made it to the investment firm that handles his annuity.

"I would think it's somebody's job to tell us if this is normal or abnormal," he said.

School district officials said they were unaware of any vendors unpaid because of the change to the new software. They also said they were unaware of any unusual delay in getting investment money to financial companies.

But Sutherland said she does not recall hearing so many reports of unpaid vendors in the past.

And she said ordering supplies is apparently much more complex under the new system.

The school district's move last year to a decentralized system with five area superintendents has contributed to frustrations over the recent payroll problems, Sutherland said.

"People are not sure what to do and who to go to," she said. "I really think it's damaged morale."

[Posted 10/11/1999 10:08 PM EST]

-- Homer Beanfang (, October 18, 1999.


"Smith said he has assigned a committee to look into ways to improve communications..."

IMPROVING something that doesn't seem to exist in the FIRST place seems to be a logical impossibility. (And even if it DID exist in some embryonic form, the best way of killing it altogether is to assign a !@#$%^& "committee" to "look into" it!)

"He said employees who complain will not face retribution."

I'm sure they all believe in the Easter Bunny, too.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), October 18, 1999.

But it's all going to be fixed in 2 or 3 hours.

-- party on (no@Y2K.worries), October 18, 1999.

Since this is SAP, shouldn't our resident SAP guru, Hoffmeister, chime in here to tell us that since the problems are showing up now, everything is OK?

Oops, guess I just said it for him..........

-- mushroom (, October 18, 1999.


Let's cut Hoffy some slack here. There are more and more reports of payroll problems, not all are SAP related. One firm in the DeeCee area is fighting a subtle payroll bug in their Peoplesoft system.

There are other reports. Fortunately, all of us has a couple weeks of cash "walking around" money under the matress, now. We know that there might be banking and other financial problems so we're ready.

As the next 74 days unfold, we'll increase our cash on hand, some might feel secure with a few hundred dollars, others might clean out their savings, still others might buy some gold. Everyone's situation is different.

Even the pollies are getting nervous. Reports like the above, persisting software problems hitting large numbers of people, confirm what people like Ed Yourdon warned years ago.

The info that I have is that the mainframe, enterprise systems area is in worse shape than previously thought. We'll know in a few months.

Everyone, take care, watch the signs.

-- cory (, October 18, 1999.


Well DUH! It's PeopleSoft. Just like SAP, just comes with a different label on the CD.

If they haven't tested/applied patches for the 29th of Feb, boy are they in for one heck of a surprise!

-- (cannot-say@this.time), October 18, 1999.

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