State hires new contractor to complete long-delayed software upgrade

Far more than a calendar year soon after the meltdown of its most current attempt to change the state’s outdated human resources administration software program, the state of Maine has quietly picked a new organization to try to finally bring the system on-line.

Accenture, a global consulting powerhouse integrated in Eire for tax explanations, was provisionally awarded a $10.9 million agreement in February to apply the very long-delayed technique to deal with all payroll, getaway time, taxes, wellbeing treatment and retirement added benefits for 12,000 point out workforce. The phrases of the deal are nonetheless being negotiated.

“We are hopeful that the mix of a new program (implementer), interior changes built to section procedures, and an unbiased, third-occasion validation vendor will make it possible for the department to make development in implementing the Workday product and outcome in an up-to-date process that improved serves the wants of the point out,” Anya Trundy, spokesperson for the Section of Administrative and Financial Companies explained in an e-mail.

The condition by now has used at the very least $35 million about the previous six years and two gubernatorial administrations with minimal to nothing to exhibit for it other than a partially functional method that hasn’t yet been put on the internet. The division believed a yr back that providing a fully operating system would expense $55 million, additional than four periods what was predicted when Gov.Paul LePage’s administration to start with introduced the substitute energy in 2016.

Accenture’s rapid predecessor, Workday Expert Remedies, is locked in a $22 million deal dispute with the state immediately after a months-extensive standoff on how to total the venture finished with Administrative and Monetary Providers Commissioner Kirsten Figueroa firing the enterprise in February 2021. The division declined to provide an update on the dispute Friday simply because it is “an ongoing lawful issue.”

Condition officials mentioned Workday experienced unsuccessful to provide a workable process, but an investigation a year back by the Portland Push Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram exposed that a sequence of issues on the state’s facet are mainly to blame for the project’s collapse.

INVESTIGATION Uncovered Problems

State hires new contractor to complete long-delayed software upgrade

Kirsten Figueroa, commissioner of the Department of Administrative and Monetary Services.  Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

Inexperienced and improperly certified people had been working the complicated task for the state at multiple stages, according to condition contractors. Payroll knowledge imported from the aged technique was faulty. A state supervisor experienced been accused of harassing both of those condition and Workday personnel. The work ecosystem grew so toxic that challenge employees would go exterior to cry or sit in silence within their vehicles, previous contractors documented. When the Section of Administrative and Economical Expert services made a decision to deliver in a new in-property task manager to rescue the distressed undertaking, it hired Figueroa’s husband, Doug Birgfeld, a shift that was authorized beneath condition nepotism rules but one particular that authorities ethics experts say should really have been avoided.

In the meantime, the state’s 12,000 personnel carry on to depend on an antiquated software program process Figueroa explained a long time in the past as “being held alongside one another with duct tape and paper clips.” The only remaining employee adept in the archaic COBOL personal computer language the 40-calendar year-old legacy procedure utilizes is considering retirement on April 1 of upcoming year. The section reported Friday that there is no plan but in spot for when the new procedure – which will use the Workday program the point out procured – will arrive on the web.

“I’ve indicated that I would continue to be all around if they desired me,” the previous comprehensive-time COBOL programmer, Bob Sipe, told the Push Herald. “I would rather go out and do a little something different, but I have shut to 14 several years in the Maine retirement (pension) method, so I do want it to be running properly in the time that I’m retired.”

Sipe reported that more than the past yr entrance-line employees like himself had heard extremely tiny about the department’s options to get the Workday software units up and online. “They’ve been quite secretive about what’s going on,” Sipe reported in a late April job interview, at which time he had not been instructed the state experienced chosen Accenture as the new implementation advisor two months before. “They don’t converse about it and no one appears to know what is likely on.”

‘A Sense OF URGENCY’

Trundy, the spokesperson for Administrative and Economic Services, explained Friday that the office “still feels a feeling of urgency” to get a new procedure on the internet, but had applied measures to stabilize the existing procedure right until they can do so.

Placing a human resources program program in location for an overall condition government is a intricate procedure that necessitates implementation consultants like Accenture to work carefully with condition personnel to customise and configure the new procedure, import legacy knowledge, and practice personnel how to use and retain it. Inner documents and assembly notes reviewed by the Push Herald for very last year’s investigation of the stalled job discovered a host of complications on the state’s facet of the ledger that former contractors and workers stated ended up mostly accountable for the meltdown.

“Maine did not have the suitable men and women in the proper places, and the charges they have been supplying have been not likely to carry the ideal knowledge to Maine,” Ahmadah Afif, a Maryland-dependent worldwide education expert who labored on the project for the point out, informed the Push Herald very last yr. “In order to save money, they gave work to individuals with minimal or no practical experience. It was like: ‘Hey, I’m likely to drop you in the hearth. Dance for me!’”

“I really do not assume any of us were qualified for the jobs we had,” an additional former condition contractor stated. “They were being brief to employ whoever they could.”

An independent consulting company introduced in by the point out in late 2020 to consider what was likely wrong with the challenge – IJA Strategies – discovered a laundry list of complications: the point out commonly altering options, deadlines and configurations “as new team assessment earlier style decisions” fatigue, turnover and loss of drive among the undertaking staff members disagreements amongst state companies around how statewide payroll guidelines should really be interpreted and undesirable knowledge being loaded into the new devices from the old just one, guaranteeing faults and delays.

‘BEARS Sizeable RESPONSIBILITY’

Questioned how the department would accurate the troubles that helped derail the earlier attempt to start the new method, Trundy explained Workday Qualified Products and services “bears considerable obligation in not assembly its contractual obligations to stand-up any factors that have been completely ready to go are living inspite of their insistence otherwise” but acknowledged that there had been “contributing variables the office bore responsibility to appropriate.”

Trundy outlined a quantity of new processes the department experienced produced more than the past 12 months to handle all those shortcomings. They incorporate bettering the good quality of data and correcting errors in advance of they are imported from the legacy process, making sure satisfactory documentation of demands and company procedures, and launching an “electronic audit” that pings every single supervisor in the govt department monthly to certify payroll and other experiences the process works by using. She reported they also are reviewing proposals for an impartial verification seller who will choose the state and Accenture’s effectiveness and assess threat – a purpose the previous job also experienced.

Accenture – a firm once identified as Andersen Consulting – edged out two other corporations in a competitive bid for the implementation function. The Dublin-incorporated multinational received the optimum scores by much from in-household evaluators, in section since of its considerable expertise applying Workday software techniques for other massive clientele, such as the point out of Iowa and the towns of Dallas, Denver and Baltimore.


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