Phoenix: Uh-Oh, Canada!
By centralizing payroll operations for all 300,000 government employees in Miramichi, New Brunswick, the new federal payroll system, Phoenix, promised savings to the tune of exactly $688,223,489.00.
The project initially aimed to consolidate and upgrade systems across all government departments and agencies, as recommended by IBM and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The Fail :
Barely two months into its implementation, 80,000 federal employees were having problems with their paycheques: some got no pay, others got paid too much, and thousands were paid months too late.
The Auditor General reported in December 2017 that 150,000 government workers were affected by the flawed Phoenix payroll system, and that it could cost up to one billion dollars to fix it. So much for the promised savings…
Phoenix replaced a 40-year-old system that was perhaps outdated, but at least got the job done. Today, some experts say that Phoenix should be scrapped altogether in favour of a tried and proven system.
The Moral :
Before you start fiddling with something as vital as the salaries of workers responsible for running a country like Canada, you would expect a rigorous risk assessment to be conducted, but this was apparently not the case here.
The government laid off 700 payroll specialists before launching Phoenix, and others refused to move to Miramichi. The upshot? New personnel had to be trained on the fly to quickly fill these positions.
An independent report stated that the government had underestimated the complexity of the project and that its failure was foreseeable.
Source image : Archives La Presse canadienne