Campus roiled by new system

Paychecks raise a ruckus

Employees at UNR are struggling to cope with a new finance system.

Employees at UNR are struggling to cope with a new finance system.


Some University of Nevada, Reno employees last week may have started believing the claims that the Republican tax plan would be good for the middle class. Many of them received pay in five figures instead of four.

“My check goes in direct deposit, but I always check on it at the bank,” said one faculty member. “I was shocked to find more than double the amount I should have had.”

After checking with the controller’s office, he was told it was a problem of Workday, a new office computer system that became operational at UNR on Oct. 2.

All through the winter, local journalists have heard complaints, particularly about the finance side of the new system. Last week’s pay glitches made the complaints reach a new level.

One campus source said that between 10 and 15 people are known to have resigned their jobs in exasperation over trying to work with Workday.

As it happened, last week a letter from UNR President Marc Johnson was posted online. Though dated Jan. 31, according to an editor’s note it was “originally sent to the campus earlier this month.” It read in part:

“Paying our employees accurately and timely is an important responsibility. While the majority of payroll information has processed correctly, some unique situations continue to arise. As these are identified, Human Resources and Payroll will continue to correct these issues, determine the underlying cause and investigate to determine if other individuals were affected. The last few months have presented a significant learning curve and challenges. The Workday staff will continue to provide support to help continue successful use of the system.”

UNR Controller Sheri Mendez had not heard about the paycheck problem. After checking with payroll folks, she said, “I don’t want to blame the system until I find out what’s going on. Sometimes people have to learn how to enter data properly. We’ve had some [Workday] problems, but I don’t know if this glitch is one of them.”

One source told us that Workday has two components—human resources (for which the company is best known) and finance. The first, he said, has a long history and tends to work without difficulty. The finance side, however, is relatively new and full of bugs that are being worked out at UNR.

UNR describes Workday this way: “The University of Nevada, Reno, in addition to all Nevada System of Higher Education campuses, implemented Workday—an integrated financial and human resources system. Workday is a cloud-based, desktop, and mobile-friendly solution for all employees to simplify and automate administrative processes.” A public relations article on the campus website says Workday is used for “faculty/staff data management systems.”

According to a statistical log on the campus website, 2,748 Workday “help desk tickets” have been opened since October, with 94.7 percent answered or completed (both terms are used).

Administrators have kept campus workers informed on the system with regular memos. They have been mostly instructional or have brought employees up to speed on matters that were not previously addressed (“Where to Find Your Payslip in Workday,” “Workday will now Require Multi-Factor Authentication On and Off Campus”). They have had an upbeat tone of cheerleading and have not addressed the chronic problems that have bedeviled employees.

“People always are disgruntled when they have to adapt to a new system,” said one campus source experienced with UNR’s computer technology. “But we are now four months into this one, and the unhappiness with the finance stuff is not dying down. That’s unusual.”

Hiring freeze

Workday is used not just at UNR but throughout the state’s higher education system. Locally, Workday is also used by AAA Northern California, Nevada & Utah.

A month-long hiring freeze was instituted at UNR on Sept. 1 as part of the changeover to Workday. At the time, associate vice president for human resources Tim McFarling told the Sagebrush, “It will greatly streamline our work processes. Currently we spend a lot of time with paper copies, carrying paper around campus, shipping it from one office to the other, and this [Workday] will enable us to do those same business functions online and we’ll be able to track where that transaction is online.”

Workday Inc, is based in Pleasanton, California. Last month, BusinessChief called Workday number 10 on a list of the “Top 10 fastest growing companies in the U.S.”

San Francisco Business Times reported on Jan. 25, “East Bay human resources company Workday has begun asking employees to provide weekly information about their managers, after noticing ’disturbing trends’ when its workers decided to leave the company. The Pleasanton-based company makes HR management software and is currently valued at about $24 billion. It is gathering the information via weekly surveys it sends out to employees, CIO Diana McKenzie said at a tech conference on Wednesday, adding that Workday wants to find out more about why workers are quitting the company, so it’s asked for data about what’s sparking the attrition.”

Other assessments in the past month: “The company’s shares have advanced 11.71 percent in the last month and 42.12 percent over the last twelve months. The stock is trading above its 50-day and 200-day moving averages by 7.93 percent and 13.54 percent, respectively. Furthermore, shares of Workday, which provides enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources worldwide, have an RSI of 62.72.”

Investors Business Daily: “Workday (WDAY) is on the cusp of becoming a free-cash-flow machine, says Morgan Stanley, which upgraded the enterprise software maker to overweight.”

Workday received some backing during its history from the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and publisher of the Washington Post.