The self-imposed deadline for the Government of Canada to fix the “Phoenix” pay system came and went. While listening to a webinar by Andy Kyte of the Gartner Group, I couldn’t help but reflect on some of his observations in the context of Phoenix, and as an addendum to a previous post, especially after the recent coverage in the New York Times: A New Payroll System Misfires, and Canadians Ask: Where’s My Pay?, from Ian Austen.
These two lesson for IT professionals are important, particularly if you don’t want your failure reported by the New York Times:
- Success and failure are multiaxis analogs: Phoenix suffered from differences in success definition. Recent press coverage seems to indicate that Phoenix is somewhat functionally complete for typical pay.
- Functional requirements are over-rated: Issues of usability and learnability appear to have made Phoenix more difficult to use than the legacy system. There was a lack of training, according to press reports. But, intuitive systems should not require significant efforts to train people who are familiar with payroll rules.
An article by Maggie Parkhill in The Finch showed the human cost of Phoenix failures, including this infographic. The important takeaway is the scorecard for fixing problems did not include those that appeared after July, leaving 200,000 transactions to be processed.