In a comment to my previous post, Kristi writes:
Isnt it usually customary when converting such a large legacy system to a new one that the new system shadows the old system for a period of time to work out bugs before it goes live? As far as I know, this was not done with the HRMS to PeopleSoft conversion. Why is this?
Deploying a system of this magnitude without a plan for testing it would be reckless indeed, and deserving of censure. But that has certainly not been the case with ASU's OASIS project.
We could not have been nearly as as successful as we have been over the last 18 months if we had not followed a rigorous testing plan. Payroll is the most recent in a series of successful system deployments, systems that include Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Registration, Benefits, Talent Acquisition -- all major applications which have been in steady, high volume use by the university since their respective launches between January and June of this year.
Heres a quick breakdown of the testing that the new Payroll system underwent in 2007.
In January, the OASIS team initiated the record conversion process to move data from the legacy system to HCM. Unit testing of individual modules and data conversion tests were begun and continued to be run until the go-live in July. From February through April, over 50 test payrolls were run on a regular basis, to identify flaws in the new system and ensure their correction. By March, the majority of payroll records had been successfully converted, but continual evaluation and improvement of that data continued through to go-live.
In May and June, a series of test payrolls were run in parallel with the Legacy system, to help the team identify any remaining errors. Over 150 separate audit procedures were created and run after each conversion and test payroll to verify accuracy and identify issues. Beyond the testing for delivered software, all modifications and interfaces ASU created itself included their own set of unit, regression, integration and parallel testing.
Despite this extensive testing, which included parallel runs with the legacy HRMS system, some problems remain to be fixed once the system comes live. Testing and quality control can only do so much. Like the punch list on a new house, some flaws must be repaired all together, at the end. It's tempting to believe that any system can be tested to perfection, but complex systems like these, involving hundreds of thousands if not millions of records, are moving targets. Testing can tell you a lot about the robustness of the operational components, but it can't reveal every flaw - a fact that provides little consolation when the error directly affects you.
Thats why its important to remember that the key to our success so far -- in each of the OASIS rollouts -- has been the combination of extensive testing with the adapability and flexibility of ASU's staff. It is staff members who are making this system work: by quickly learning new procedures, by having patience and confidence while issues are resolved, by helping to identify remaining gaps, and by working together to solve any challenges we face.
It will be due to staff cooperation and diligence that, after the dust has settled, ASU will regard OASIS as a collective success, one that reflects positively on the New American University. It will be because all of us will have worked together that we've been able to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy new application systems to help ASU achieve its goals. Those goals - access, excellence, impact - a quality education for the public good are surely worthy of our best efforts.
I assure you that everyone involved with the deployment of the payroll project -- from managers, to coders and testers, to those entering data or helping staff to ensure their pay is correct -- all of them are working hard to fix any outstanding issues and make things right for anyone who has been adversely affected by the recent changes.
If you are experiencing an issue that the regular OASIS channels aren't fixing quickly enough, please email me at email@example.com. I will personally ensure that the problem is addressed quickly.