Payroll system migrations lead to errors and frustration

At the union offices at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital in California, Peter Brackner, a registered nurse and union president, helps members with payroll errors. Mistakes include incorrect wages, missed hours, unpaid bonuses, and shift differences.

Trouble began for Santa Rosa in early July after Providence Health & Services in Renton, Washington, which operates 52 hospitals, switched to a new payroll system. Providence replaces multiple HR, payroll, finance, supply chain, and other ERP functions with a cloud ERP system from Oracle. It’s unclear how many hospitals in Providence are having migration issues. An Oregon-based Providence employee recently filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status over problems with the payroll system.

“We’ve had nurses who didn’t get a paycheck at all,” said Brackner, president of the Staff Nurses Association at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital. He said a ticketing system closes tickets before fixing problems.

We had nurses who didn’t get a paycheck at all.

Peter BracknerPresident of the Santa Rose Memorial Hospital Staff Nurses Association

Problems after ERP migrations are common, and proof of this is shown by Sacramento, California-based Sutter Health, which operates 23 hospitals. Sutter is moving to Workday from Lawson’s HR and payroll system, but continues to use Lawson for other ERP functions. Lawson owns Infor.

According to Ingrid Ragoobar, RN at the Universal Nursing Unit at Sutter Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, California, “There is no set timeline for fully correcting these payroll errors, and Sutter has still not fully corrected the errors that have already occurred,” said them in an email.

Any updates Sutter has provided “are vague” and “do not include timelines for when the issues will be fixed,” Ragoobar said. “They don’t have a clear explanation as to why this happened or how to fix it.” The problems also surfaced in July.

About 15% of payroll implementation projects fail, and 44% are “challenged,” meaning they run into problems, said Jim Johnson, chairman of the Standish Group, a Boston-based consulting and research firm that studies project implementations. The problem is usually the result of data quality issues, he said.

According to research by Johnson, large software projects costing more than $10 million have a failure rate of up to 41%. But payroll system implementations tend to do better because they’re “simple applications,” and the people who implement payroll systems have “a little more empathy and are a little more cautious” because it’s affecting their employees directly, he said.

In a statement, Providence said that “the vast majority of paychecks issued are accurate. … However, there are some who have shown false or partial payment. In most cases, this is due to routine problems such as B. Time card correction forms submitted after the deadline or no time submitted on a time card.”

Brackner disagrees with the hospital’s statement.

“That’s not true at all,” Brackner said, and many healthcare workers are trying to lock in their pay. He said he took offense at the hospital’s allegation that staff had provided false information. “It really made us angry when we read that.”

For his part, Sutter said in a statement that the payroll transition was a “significant technical upgrade” that is “complex and has resulted in some payroll-related disruptions.”

“We are making every effort to resolve outstanding compensation and wage issues.” Sutter added that the “vast majority” of employees received their paychecks as expected.

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