Aside from the sheer scale involved in delivering accurate pay packets to teachers and support staff every two weeks, EPL faces additional challenges which include the unusual way in which education personnel are remunerated. Rather than the 40-hour work week or 52-weeks-a-year cycle familiar to most of us, teachers are paid on a 365-day basis.
This necessitates a high degree of customisation of the payroll system, explains EPL Chief Executive Arlene White.
This results in an estimated 70% customisation to the underlying software. “It’s a spaghetti junction and the customisations, while crucial and necessary, make the similarly necessary, crucial and constant changes very challenging,” White adds.
The ongoing modernisation of the payroll process, which includes the introduction of the EdPay portal, is necessary for a simple reason. Previously, payroll was largely paper-based and prone to the shortcomings of manual processes – but at vast scale.
“This meant processing change requests and tickets manually to accurately make wage payments. We would receive up to 13,000 handwritten forms every fortnight and up to 1,000 phone calls a day, with particularly busy times at the start and end of the school year.”
In the 21st century, remarks White, this just is not a good way to do business. “We recognised several years ago that there was a better way and that led to a business case for a digital front end, where administrators and principals submit requests online. What we’ve built with EdPay will lead to close to 90% of interactions being non-paper-based.”
She adds that, due to complexities, there will always be exceptions that are better handled using manual processes, though these will see ‘lower-level’ digitisation, rather than the fully automated ‘straight through processing’.