December 18, 2018

Webster University troubleshoots technical issues after My Webster ADP rollout

Clarification:  This story originally stated that 330 employees did not receive a pay check in mid January due to a glitch in ADP’s system and that the error was fixed within 48 hours. This information was given to The Journal in a fact sheet during an interview with Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Kenneth Freeman and Director of Public Relations Patrick Giblin. The day after publication, Giblin alerted The Journal that the information Webster originally provided was incorrect. The error was actually discovered 48 hours prior to payday and everyone received their checks on time.

 A software issue between university desktops and the new My Webster service caused challenges for Webster University employees.

The university launched the Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP) digital payroll and human recourses service, My Webster, Jan. 1.

Student employee Tyler Bierman works three jobs on the Webster campus. He said a lack of training has also added to the existing problem with the payroll service.

 

“People still don’t know how it works. When it got rolled out, none of the computers in the office could work it; the Java was all outdated,” Bierman said. “It took me three hours to log in the first day. It’s just been ridiculous.”

 

The ADP program uses a previous version of Java, a programming language, which makes logging onto the ADP website difficult, Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Kenneth Freeman said. The ADP service is used for creating logins, managing ADP accounts and logging work hours, and will not work without a specific version of Java.

“It’s gotten to the point where I have to put more of my time and effort into filling out a time sheet than I put into my homework,” Bierman said.

Freeman said the My Webster project team expected there to be issues with certain aspects of ADP. He said the team hoped to be able to cover 95 percent of problematic scenarios.

 

“You can’t think of everything. You just hope that the item you miss or didn’t think about won’t be something that will be catastrophic to the entire initiative,” Freeman said. “There will always be things that go wrong. You can’t anticipate everything.”

 

Freeman said the university is combatting the issue by having IT workers install the specific version of Java onto desktops not “playing nice” with the website.

When ADP users with the correct version of Java are prompted to update, Freeman said they should not. This is until a more permanent solution is established.

Fitness Center student employee Carlton Poindexter said many of the issues he had with My Webster were smoothed out. He said he encountered some problems with the ADP timecard but said they were shortly fixed by his supervisor.

“It’s been interesting so far. I think everyone is still getting used to it and trying to figure it out,” Poindexter said. “Just like with anything new, you just work out the kinks.”

In mid-January Webster discovered a “small glitch” in ADP’s system that had the potential to delay 330 employees’ paychecks. Director of Public Relations Patrick Giblin said the issue was corrected in 48 hours and that everyone received their pay checks on time. Freeman said the university will make sure employees will be paid come payday.

Freeman said if an employee were to not receive proper payment, they would need to contact their supervisor to get the issue sorted out.

“They’ll (Webster) do the right thing by the student and the employee,” Freeman said.

Giblin said he was not aware of any cases in which students did not receive a paycheck, but he knew of students who received an incorrect amount of payment. He said those cases were also corrected.

School of Communications student employee Zach Hellmer said login issues have been some of his main frustrations, along with the program not showing his clocked hours. Hellmer recently changed jobs, and said someone other than his supervisor approves his hours.

Career Services Coordinator Elizabeth Condon-Oakberg, a My Webster project team member, said the ADP service allows employees to have one job, but Webster customized the service to accommodate students with multiple jobs. Students will have a primary and secondary supervisor. Both can edit the students’ hours, but only the primary supervisor can approve their timecard.

A culture change has been part of the complications, Freeman said. Moving away from paper time sheets to a digital medium will take some time for the community to get used to.

“This really is a great opportunity for us to move forward with technology because paper time sheets don’t work. It’s outdated,” Condon-Oakberg said.

University Center Director Katie Knetzer said the issues discovered during the initial My Webster rollout have been, remedied for the most part.

“It’s definitely been a learning curve for us to learn all the ins and outs of the system,” Knetzer said. “It’s a lot to learn, but I feel like every pay period we get better at it.”

Knetzer said the payroll command center and service desk aided her department as they worked to overcome the “learning curve.” The university temporarily established the payroll command center to alleviate non-technical issues with the ADP.

The command center has been located in Sverdrup 104 and is staffed by several full-time employees of the university who volunteer their time to assist Webster employees.

Condon-Oakberg said when My Webster first went live the command center was open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. However, she said the center is already shortening its hours of operation.

 

 

“We are trying to phase out the command center. There’s less demand for it,” Condon-Oakberg said. “The resources it takes to staff the command center were better-served being in our offices and answering the phones at our desks.”

 

Due to a low amount of calls to the department, Condon-Oakberg said the need for the center has dwindled.

“We’re committed through the end of this week, but after that we don’t have any commitments for the command center,” Condon-Oakberg said. “We’re at a point now with the system where it’s functioning pretty well. We’re not going to need the command center.”

Condon-Oakberg said voicemails and emails sent to the center will be monitored after the center is shut down for good.
Freeman said if people do not report problems they experience with the service, the university cannot work to remedy issues.

 

“The short term (solution) is technicians are going out to peoples’ desks, as we have been, and modifying the Java version,” Freeman said. “The key thing is people have to call into the command center or send an email to mywebster.edu.”

 

Freeman said the goal now is to respond quickly with a short-term solution and work towards a long-term answer so problems are not reoccurring.

Condon-Oakberg said students were “incredibly patient” during the payroll transition.

“It’s hard when you hear one thing that might be negative, but there’s a hundred positives, so we have to keep that in mind,” Condon-Oakberg said.

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