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CDT PAL Process

Picture of CSPS Project Approval Lifecycle (PAL) timeline. 2017-2018 Stage 1: Business Analysis. 2018-2020 Stage 2: Alternative Analysis. 2020-2021 Stage 3: Solution Development. 2020-2022 Stage 4: Project Readiness and Approval

The California State Payroll System Project (CSPS) is progressing through the California Department of Technology (CDT) Project Approval Lifecycle (PAL) in accordance with the Statewide Information Management Manual (SIMM) Section 19. The PAL is divided into four stages: Stage 1 Business Analysis, Stage 2 Alternatives Analysis, Stage 3 Solution Development, and Stage 4 Project Readiness and Approval, each separated by gates of approval.  Rather than picking up where the 21st Century Project left off, the State Controller’s Office (SCO) examined lessons from the past and started the project from scratch. The project team worked with the business owners to identify problems and opportunities with current business practices and establish a solid business case aligned with SCO’s strategic direction. The project team set clear, measurable objectives for the payroll system replacement project through the completion of the PAL Stage 1 Business Analysis (S1BA) in October 2017.

The project team and its procurement support vendor, Crowe LLP, then worked with subject matter experts from SCO and other state departments to create end-to-end documentation of the 41 distinct business processes required to process payroll. This process reaffirmed the opportunities documented in S1BA and guided the team in defining future standardized and streamlined state business processes. 

A project of this size and complexity calls for a high level of market research. Working with CDT and Crowe LLP, the project team created a market research plan that included interviewing other states and large local government entities who recently replaced their human capital management (HCM) and payroll systems to learn from their experiences. Further research gained insight into the shortcomings of failed projects. The project team held meetings with the project leadership team that completed the rollout of the University of California UCPath system. The insights gained from the UCPath team will prove quite relevant given they too converted from a decades-old mainframe system.

With the recommended alternative identified, requirements and business rules detailed, and a procurement strategy developed that includes a proof-of-concept phase, the project team submitted the Stage 2 Alternatives Analysis to CDT in September 2020, moving closer to a solution that addresses project objectives and provides for the needs of all stakeholders. 

SCO’s CSPS project team is carefully analyzing the governance structure that will lead to the project’s success. The team considered different governance structures and consulted with FI$Cal leadership to incorporate lessons learned, as well as considering lessons learned during the 21st Century Project, since both projects involved multi-departmental decision-making. While the project was guided through its initial planning stages under an advisory body, it became clear in early 2020 that an executive steering committee was needed to address a broad scope of decisions that cross departmental areas of responsibility. The committee includes executives from SCO, Department of Human Resources, Government Operations Agency, Department of Finance, and CDT who provide a blend of policy, business operations, financial, and technical perspectives.

The CSPS Project is primarily an organizational change-management (OCM) project with a substantial information technology component. As such, the project has enlisted OCM support from Crowe LLP, coupled with state staff to address tasks the project will face in coming years. Beginning with a broad range of change-readiness assessments at the executive, management, and staff levels across stakeholder departments, the OCM team has developed change-management strategies and communications plans to maintain stakeholder engagement and keep every affected employee informed along the way.

When a data set contains 65 different spellings for “City of Sacramento,” robust data analysis and planning are needed. The project team has enlisted the support of Providence Technology Group to help SCO information technology specialists analyze and categorize the existing data to develop a data-cleansing and conversion plan. This effort is well under way and on track to coincide with the onboarding of the future systems-integration vendor.

Engineered and developed by SCO Information Systems Division staff, the responsive open-source application was designed to directly interface with the state’s 50-year-old legacy payroll system while adhering to strict business rules defined by the Personnel and Payroll Services Division.

The application was production-ready just as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the state workforce into a telework employment model. The rapid deployment of the application allowed SCO to stop printing and distributing direct deposit earnings statements and positioned SCO to save hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on printing and virtually eliminated the labor-intensive task of each department sorting and distributing earnings statements on payday. Putting this in perspective, the act of printing direct deposit advices required 48 pallets of custom pressure-sensitive self-sealing paper every year. Laid top-to-bottom the pages would stretch over 660 miles. 

The innovative spirit does not stop there, as SCO also is managing a project to replace the state’s business and travel expense claim system, CalATERS. Like CSPS, this project is following the CDT PAL process and currently is being readied for a proof-of-concept procurement.