Update on payroll testing

Making sure Payroll is set up and working properly in ctcLink is crucial. That’s why there have been 5 payroll test-runs for FirstLink colleges (FLCs), with another one underway. In addition, a separate payroll testing process is scheduled for later this month to give FLC payroll Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) a chance to perform their day-to-day tasks in the new system and validate the results.

To recap payroll testing activities: Two “gross to net” payroll tests were performed in late 2014 and early 2015. This process entailed taking a snapshot of the FLCs November payrolls after they had all their payroll entries in, but before they ran their payroll process. Using that data, payroll was executed both in a test environment in the legacy system and in the new ctcLink (PeopleSoft) environment to compare the complete payroll run in the old system vs. the new. The test run was then evaluated to see if everything matched up and if employees’ deductions and pay calculated correctly. These first two runs included a sample set of part-time faculty and moonlight employees rather than the full population of part-time faculty. That work informed the development and testing of the new part-time faculty and moonlight pay component that was created specifically for our community and technical college system to address the many and varied pay plans (contracts/bargaining agreements) in place throughout our 34-college system.  The next three payroll tests used FLCs payroll data from December and January. These were smaller and targeted to test configuration changes identified in the first two complete gross to net tests, and identify and address any new issues with end-of-year and new-year payroll. There were bumps in the road in these initial rounds of testing and plenty of frustration to go around, and that was to be expected. The goal was to find and fix the issues prior to the final testing round and go-live.

The project team and FLC payroll SMEs have now embarked on one final round of ‘gross-to-net’ comparison using April data from FLCs to make sure everything calculates correctly in ctcLink. The prep work to ensure the data is staged correctly is progressing. This work is vital to a successful payroll process once Spokane and Tacoma colleges have switched over to ctcLink. “This is our chance to do a mass gross to net comparison of a nearly complete payroll and make sure everything we thought we caught is, in fact, fixed,” said ctcLink Tara Keen.

When FLC SMEs do the Day-in-the-Life activity later this month, they will get a chance to practice business processes from beginning to end of a complete payroll run that crosses all PeopleSoft pillars. “SMEs will be generating contracts, running payroll, and pushing payroll expenses and liabilities over to the general ledger in the Finance pillar,” Tara said. “It will be a true day-in-the-life of payroll business processes in ctcLink from beginning to end.”

“Day-in-the-Life is a critical process that will give our subject matter experts the exposure to the system they’ve been seeking,” said Spokane ctcLink Project Manager Dick Hol. “Anything we can do to assist our SMEs prepare for life in the new ctcLink world is a step in the right direction, but we also realize there is much more to be done before August 24. People are understandably anxious and concerned as the go-live date approaches. Tacoma’s project manager, Andy Duckworth, and I have been working closely with ctcLink project management on the project plan, timing of activities and how we can best support our SMEs.”

About ctclinknews

ctcLink is a single, centralized system of online tools for student services and administrative functions for all 34 community and technical colleges in Washington. In the next several years, ctcLink will be implemented on every campus, providing online tools for everything from admissions to graduation. The first three ("FirstLink") colleges came online in August 2015. A wave of 8 more colleges (cleverly named "Wave 1") will switch over to the new ctcLink system in August 2016, followed by Wave 2 in 2017 and Wave 3 in 2018.
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