Failure Analysis of Queensland Payroll System

Failure Analysis of Queensland Payroll System
Zhu Ziyan1,*
1Engineering school, The Uuiversity of Sydney, Camperdown, Sydney, NSW, Australia, 2006
*Corresponding author. Email:
[email protected]
Queensland government tried to innovate and improve the payroll system, but there were many loopholes in the
operation of the project. In fact, from 2015 to 2020, about a quarter of the state’s public health workers have to bear
outstanding debts due to the Queensland Government’s overpayment of about $110 million (Australian dollars) to the
state’s health workers [5]. This paper introduces the problems existing in Queensland’s wage system, evaluates and
analyses the innovation process of the system, and completes the whole research process by investigating a series of
documents issued by Queensland government, using the method of qualitative analysis and case study. Through the
above research, this paper puts forward corresponding solutions to the problems of Queensland government payroll.
On the one hand, in the part of innovation and improvement, this paper puts forward the solutions of management and
customers; On the other hand, this paper also puts forward a series of reform measures for the reform of the leadership
Keywords: Innovation, Queensland payroll system, Agile, Project management
Nowadays, more and more organizations and
departments begin to study how to improve the
efficiency of the medical industry and save money. To
solve this problem, Thite and Sandhu (2014) point out
that redesign of business processes and reform and
deployment of new technology is a good solution [8].
However, Bohmer (2010) believes that in a large and
complex medical system, it is difficult to achieve the
above changes [2]. In view of the above conclusions,
Fisher and Howell (2004) show that when testing the
total failure rate of a new IT system, the total failure rate
is close to 50%. This means that nearly half of the
systems cannot meet the requirements of the project,
which may lead to the failure of the project. Thite and
Sandhu (2014) believe that such a high failure rate is not
entirely due to the technical limitations of the system
itself. The lack of coordination means and rigid
management system for innovation in the organization
itself will lead to the failure of the IT system to achieve
all or most of the goals of the project [8].
Due to the above reasons, as one of the earliest
business processes implemented in the work, payroll
processing technology also faces many problems (Thite
et al, 2012) [7]. Queensland Department of health tried
to introduce a new payroll system, but it soon failed.
Horn (2020) points out that between 2015 and 2020, the
Queensland Department of Health paid about $110
million (Australian dollars) to health workers in the
state, and nearly a quarter of health workers in the state
have outstanding debts to repay [5].
Based on the case study of the innovation of the
payroll system in the Queensland health system, this
paper attempts to evaluate the payroll calculation system
and the management system, and finds out the problems
in the innovation and other aspects of the system
according to the evaluation results, and puts forward the
corresponding solutions.
The main research significance of this paper is to
find some common problems that may appear in the
process of large-scale system innovation, and how these
common problems hinder the implementation of
innovation and put forward corresponding solutions.
Because this paper mainly uses a case study to
analyse the data, so qualitative analysis is a more
appropriate research method. Flick (2007) believes that
qualitative analysis can usually be used as a label for a
series of social science research methods [4]. The
qualitative analysis mainly takes the concept of research
as the research basis, takes the text as the demonstration
Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research, volume 203
Proceedings of the 2021 3rd International Conference on Economic Management and
Cultural Industry (ICEMCI 2021)
Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Published by Atlantis Press International B.V.
This is an open access article distributed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license -
material, and focuses on the practical results, viewpoints
and theories of the research object. Therefore, the
research materials of this paper are mainly from the
public literature published by the Queensland
government. With the help of these public documents
and published reports, this paper also combines the
research methods of case study to help complete the
qualitative analysis.
The outbreak of the payroll problem was earlier than
in 2015. In fact, in 2010, the Queensland government
published some investigation reports on the work
system. The main research materials of this paper also
come from these investigation reports.
The following parts will evaluate and analyse the
reform of the payroll system and the leadership system.
3.1 The reform of the payroll system
The Queensland Health work system report
submitted by the Queensland auditor general in 2010
shows that the Queensland payroll system first used the
method of printing payroll [1]. About 40000 e-mails and
faxes are received by production personnel on each
payday [8]. In view of this situation, Thite and Sandhu
(2014) believe that it is inevitable for staff to have
problems when dealing with such a large number of
wage issues [8]. Therefore, every time after the
completion of salary payment, about 15000
modifications and adjustments need to be made [8]. In
this case, the Queensland government chose a new
payroll system and introduced a new computing system.
One of the systems implemented by the Queensland
government is called SAP finance. IBM is the main
contractor responsible for the management and
implementation of the payroll and scheduling system.
Chen and Sawhney (2010) point out 12 types of
innovation to form innovation radar, namely product,
platform, solution, value capture, management, process,
customer, communication, interface, supply chain,
channel and ecosystem innovation [3]. According to the
results of the research report, the main value of the
calculation system of the payroll system is reflected in
the product, that is, replacing and upgrading the original
payroll system, providing a more modern way of
But this innovation also has a very big problem, the
first is from the management. Queensland Auditor
General (2010) points out that the Queensland
government required IBM to replace the original payroll
system through the model of SAP human resources
department housing system, and complete the
replacement of the whole system through a few
necessary changes [1]. However. The scope of the
project and the complexity of the project
implementation are seriously underestimated. Due to
this negligence, the actual cost of the project is far
greater than the budget cost of the project [1]. The
second is from the user side. Before the payroll system
went online, IBM organized user experience. However,
due to the continuous change requests (Mainly from the
project requirements that were not elaborated and agreed
upon in the project planning stage), only 60% of the
functions of the new system were tested in the test
process, which could not meet the final test
requirements. At the same time, 10% of the project staff
are selected as users for the system experience, but the
number of users is not enough to meet the needs of the
number of test samples of the new payroll system,
which cannot ensure the accuracy of the test [1].
3.2 Project leadership system
The key departments of the project, including IBM,
have the problem of management structure confusion.
Specifically, there are no clear provisions on the roles,
authorities, responsibilities and division of labour of all
parties. At the same time, in the whole payroll system
reform project, the leadership did not require a complete
project management plan. Many important parts of the
project, such as project budget management and project
risk management, have not made a more detailed and
feasible plan. In the project budget management, there is
no corresponding forecast solution for the cost overrun
problem, and there is no appropriate planning for the
cost needs of stakeholders. In risk management,
although the project team conducted a comprehensive
risk assessment before the operation of the payroll
system, the project did not choose a quantitative
assessment method to manage the risk, nor did it
propose a plan for risk mitigation measures. From these
perspectives, there are undoubtedly very serious
mistakes in the leadership system of the whole project.
According to the above analysis, this paper can draw
the following recommendations:
4.1 Improve the payroll system with an agile
Rigby et al (2015) propose that agile, as a relatively
perfect system, is very effective in helping to overcome
the problems of innovation [6]. In fact, agile method
was first used in software development projects. This
method increased the average success rate of software
development projects from 11% to 39%, which
increased the success rate by more than three times
(Rigby et al., 2015). Compared with traditional
methods, agile methods can provide about 6 times
success rate when applied to larger and complex
Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research, volume 203
projects [6]. For this reason, this paper will try to use
agile method to improve the payroll system.
The principle of agile mainly focuses on the team.
We need to build a small-scale, self-management and
project focused team according to the needs of the
project. All members of the team are generally from the
business department that the project needs. Team
members need to allocate time and tasks to different key
stakeholders, build a series of tasks to be completed
according to the project requirements, and the project
manager needs to continuously update these tasks
according to the stakeholders and the financial status of
the project. The most important thing of an agile team is
that team work should not be interfered by non-project
factors, and each team member is the owner of the
project, and work together to complete the project.
This process can be intuitively reflected through the
following flow chart:
Figure 1: Agile process
In view of the improvement of the payroll system,
IBM can consider re-planning and re-designing the
payroll system to determine a more accurate project
scope, rather than copying other projects. After the
scope of the project is determined, the main task of the
project can be considered to be disassembled into
several small modules, and assigned to each small
module to complete the task and work period, and the
corresponding work template can be built in a short
cycle called sprint. It is worth noting that, due to the
complexity and relevance of the payroll system itself,
the use of agile methods can maximize the transparency
of project implementation, that is, the work results of
various departments can be shared to avoid management
mistakes. In addition, according to the agile method
model, the project team needs to hold a simple meeting
every day to review yesterday’s progress and challenges.
This step can help the project team solve the impact of
frequent change requests.
At the same time, the agile method can solve the
user problems in the payroll system. As mentioned
before, the testing process of the system cannot meet the
complete needs of users, and agile methods can
continuously generate new small tests to be completed
by cutting the tasks. These tests are relatively
uncomplicated and do not require a lot of human
resources. When the user test is satisfied, the project
will immediately move to the next link. The completed
tests can meet the needs of users as much as possible,
and the tests that are still in progress can also be
changed quickly with the help of agile working
characteristics. When the project is completed, the
whole test activity can also get very complete test
4.2 Improve the leadership system with the
knowledge of project management
First of all, the leadership system needs to be
changed accordingly. The project manager who has the
leadership over the project will allocate the roles, tasks
and responsibilities of each department of the project, so
as to avoid confusion in the process of project
implementation. Secondly, the project needs to develop
a complete project management plan, including the
budget supervision and management mechanism and
risk management mechanism, to make relatively perfect
planning for the project, rather than using other
completed project models. Finally, for project leaders,
they need to improve the following five qualities to
improve their own leadership (Toussaint et al, 2017):
Wiliness, leaders need to actively adapt and be familiar
with innovation, and reflect on completed projects;
Humility, in most projects, team members from
different fields often have more professional skills than
leaders, and leaders need to respect and understand
these skills; Curiosity, leaders need to always keep the
spirit of exploration, understand the problems in the
project, and then propose corresponding solutions;
Perseverance, in dealing with more complex projects,
leaders need to complete more tasks, too much data,
frequent change requests will increase the workload of
leaders, which requires leaders to adhere to complete the
tasks they need to complete; Self-discipline, leaders
need to strictly abide by the established project rules and
regulations, and maintain the normal operation of the
team [9].
Through the case study of the Queensland Health
payroll system, this paper finds the reasons for the huge
Build a team
• The team needs
to be small, self
managed and
project centric.
Member convening
• All members of
the team are
usually from the
business units
required for the
Task construction
• Allocate time and
tasks according
to stakeholders,
and build a series
of tasks to be
according to
Tasks of the project
• The project
manager needs
to constantly
update these
tasks according
to stakeholders
and the financial
status of the
Finish the sprint
• Start a new sprint
until the project is
Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research, volume 203
loopholes in the system. Firstly, in the part of
innovation, due to the negligence of the Queensland
government and IBM in management, the scope of the
project and the complexity of project implementation
are seriously underestimated, resulting in the actual cost
of the project being far greater than the budget cost of
the project. The second problem comes from the client.
IBM cannot guarantee that the number of user test
samples meets the demand. At the same time, due to
continuous change requests, user testing cannot achieve
the ideal test range. Secondly, there is a very serious
management confusion in the key departments of the
project. The management has neither clearly defined the
roles, powers, responsibilities, and division of labour of
all parties, nor formulated a relatively perfect project
management plan.
Because of the above problems, this paper puts
forward two solutions. First, the agile method model is
used in the improvement process of the payroll system.
After determining the project scope, the project team
can divide the project into several sprint modules
through the agile method, and make time planning and
task arrangement respectively. At the same time, in
order to solve frequent change requests, the project team
needs to hold meetings every day according to the agile
method to summarize and formulate new tasks. During
the cutting process, the project team can test the
completed modules to meet the needs of user testing.
Secondly, the leadership system needs to be improved
and a complete project management plan needs to be
formulated. At the same time, the project leader needs to
improve wiliness, humility, curiosity, perseverance, and
self-discipline these five qualities to improve the
leader’s leadership ability [9].
Thank Dr Sabine Ludewig very much for her
knowledge of critical thinking, which plays an
indispensable role in the construction of the whole
article. Thank Dr. Karyne Ang and Catherine Graham
very much. Their lectures on the relationship between
people and leadership have answered many of my
doubts. At the same time, I would like to thank Dr.
Kishore Sengupta for his wonderful knowledge transfer
in the field of innovation research. These contents
constitute the main content of this article. I am also very
grateful to other teachers and students who are willing
to communicate with me about the knowledge involved
in the article.
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AGQ (2010b). Report to Parliament No. 13 for
2010. Results of Audits at 31 October 2010.
Auditor General of Queensland. Queensland Audit
Office, Brisbane, Australia.
[2]. Bohmer, R. (2010). Fixing healthcare on the
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Advances in Economics, Business and Management Research, volume 203