Time to Spay Novopay?

The brainiacs at the Herald lead with the obvious angle:

Novopay signed off by ministers despite flaws. By Kate Shuttleworth

“Prime Minister John Key has defended his ministers who signed off the Novopay system, despite them knowing there were nearly 150 software defects.

“Official documents released today reveal Education Minister Hekia Parata, Finance Minister Bill English and Associate Education Minister Craig Foss all signed off on the system, despite 5913 payslip errors during testing.”

This is not the crucial angle of this story. 

All software has bugs.From memory one of the earlier windows versions was released with 1000’s of bugs. Google “bug count” and you’ll get any number of graphs comparing how buggy the big guys are: Microsoft, Apple, Google, etc: Apple-leads-the-pack-for-ballooning-bug-count/8877

Windows Vista was widely cursed and that got to the Pre releaseTo Market(RTM) stage with bugs from over 2000 to 1400. On a later build they had to remove a “showstopper” bug that completely destroyed any system upgrading from XP.

So a release with 147 bugs and no serious security or showstopper bugs is a developers wet dream.

I have worked with many different payroll systems from small business to corporate and never seen this kind of chaos. It is a cluster fuck of the highest order. What is really going on? 

What screws up payroll software is unfamiliarity with the banking conventions. Pay is quite often split out to different agencies, ACC, child support, court orders, savings accounts. “No Pay” Novopay is Australian and may not have this intuitive knowledge. They may have had to run some pay cycles to discover exactly where the flaws were.

However it should be relatively easy to make manual payments to correct the total intended to the individual from the accrual account. A lot of time has been billed back to the ministry for these corrections and there are over-payments so the end user interface is obviously an issue as well.

The real issue is why the work wasn’t awarded in New Zealand. New Zealand has some¬† of the best developers in the world. Datacom isn’t known as the sharpest game in town and they have New Zealand competitors. Why were these not given a chance to tender?

 This situation has arisen because of the New Zealand Government psyche. The industry gets the least support from what should be a supportive customer. This is the lament of the New Zealand software industry. If the decision is made to award a contract. It will usually go to the offshore contender. And this is hard to understand given that New Zealand produces the smartest and cheapest developers in the world.

Key recently saw fit to pleasure Hollywood for the benefit of the New Zealand economy.
Tech is New Zealand’s stellar industry du jour.We shouldn’t be pumping 30 million dollars into the Australian economy when it could be being pumped into Silicon Welly.

If the government doesn’t change this philosophy, New Zealand will continue to export developers and erroneously prop up the Aussie software industry.

Unfortunately it’s an entrenched marriage when bespoke software development gets to this stage. It’ll be an acrimonious divorce so the teachers are probably stuck with Novopay

I’m just glad that Morgan and the cats have been kicked off the front pages. And for the sake of the New Zealand software industry the scalpel should’ve been taken to Novopay at the outset.

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