This story is from the archives of UCLA Today, a discontinued publication.

UC to save millions by replacing payroll, human resources systems

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The University of California has embarked on an ambitious plan to deploy a single payroll system and a single human resources system across all 10 campuses and five medical centers.
 
seal 3dgold.smallThe goal: within four years, UC will be able to pay all 180,000 employees from a single university-wide payroll system that meets the core needs of each location while capturing the efficiencies, improved data and cost savings associated with a unified system.
 
In addition, a common human resources information system will provide tools and a repository for all data related to the efficient management of the university’s workforce. The Payroll Personnel System replacement project is one of the highest priorities for UC’s Working Smarter initiative, which aims to elevate UC’s business practices to the same level of excellence as its teaching and research enterprises.
 
Through a variety of systemwide, regional and campus-level efficiencies, the Working Smarter initiative expects to improve administrative operations while redirecting $500 million in annual savings to UC’s academic and research mission within the next five years.
 
“Not only is our payroll system 30 years old and in need of modernizing," said Peter Taylor, UC’s chief financial officer, "but there are different variations running at each campus location, making it extremely difficult to synchronize and consolidate payroll and human resource information.”
 
Campus controllers, chief human resource officers and academic personnel directors completed an assessment of the payroll personnel system (PPS) in 2009 and recommended planning for a replacement. They also began working to standardize related business practices.
 
Since then, UC’s Board of Regents has endorsed the Working Smarter initiative, and President Mark G. Yudof, Taylor and Executive Vice President for Business Operations Nathan Brostrom have put the PPS replacement project on the fast track.
 
A staff of three is working full time to oversee and manage the project, while teams from across UC tackle specific aspects of the massive, systemwide effort.
 
“This is a very collaborative process, with strong support from senior UC administrators and high levels of participation at every campus and medical center,” said project director Anthony Lo. “For such a complex project, the four-year timetable is an ambitious schedule, but one that we can achieve with everyone working together.”
 
When all phases of the project are complete, UC will have single, centralized systems for processing payroll, fulfilling campus timekeeping needs and collecting and analyzing human resources information.
 
Not only will the new systems save UC money — $30 million or more annually according to initial projections — but they will also improve the way payroll and human resource services are delivered.
 
“Some of our current systems are so complex that they inhibit business redesign for more effective operations,” Brostrom said. “To achieve our vision of excellence in business operations, we need to address the processes and systems used to pay and manage our dynamic workforce.”
 
The university has now begun an open, competitive bid process for the appropriate system solutions. If all goes as planned, the PPS replacement project team will select a vendor and execute an agreement by July 1.
 
At least as important as the technical solution, however, is the cultural change that is taking place as the campuses come together to reach agreement on streamlined and common processes and a shared interpretation of UC policies.
 
“The PPS replacement project is much broader than simply replacing the payroll system,” Taylor said. “We envision a future in which all 10 campuses deliver the same high-quality, standardized payroll and human resource services, but within a framework that reflects campus operations, culture and needs.”
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