UBC’s long-anticipated $336-million software renewal partially launches

UBC’s $336-million software upgrade partially launched on Monday as HR and payroll systems moved to the Workday platform.

In December 2018, UBC partnered with Workday for its Integrated Renewal Program (IRP) to replace the university’s decades-old IT systems. Two of the three replacement platforms, Workday Finance and Workday Human Resources, have launched as of November 2.

Workday Student, however, has been pushed back and will not launch until 2023 or 2024 “due to the uncertainty of software development.” UBC continues contract negotiations with Workday over subscription fees and with Deloitte as a consultant.

“Workday is really transforming our human resources, finance and business processes. And some of the systems this is replacing are 20-year-plus legacy systems that are really just on their last legs,” said Max Holmes, student Board of Governors representative who sits on the Finance Committee. The Board of Governors Finance Committee oversees the IRP.

UBC is pursuing the IRP project in tandem with the Application Ecosystem Program (AEP). Launched in the fall of 2018, the AEP assesses other UBC systems that need upgrading to run with Workday.

One of UBC’s most costly undertakings in recent past, the IRP drew concern from former Board of Governors faculty representative Dr. Nassif Ghoussoub over budget increases. UBC had initially allocated $60 million for the project, later increased to $262.4 million due to what the Board said were “cost pressures.”

The IRP has a current budget of $272.1 million and the AEP has $58.9 million. Combined with budgeted fees of $3.8 million for EY Consulting and $1.1 million already spent on non-EY fees, the project’s total expected cost is $335.9 million.

UBC has been training employees in the new systems but has changed to an online approach in light of COVID-19. Ross said training development will be based upon lessons learned from other universities who have similarly implemented Workday systems.

“We have established a robust service center, called the Integrated Service Center, that is able to answer questions, provide further training and support any enhancements to the system on an ongoing basis,” said Kate Ross, IRP lead sponsor.

When asked about issues in pay accuracy during the software’s testing phases, Ross said that accurate and timely compensation for employees is one of UBC’s priorities.

In the first cycle of Workday payroll tests, 91 per cent of 21,753 salaried workers had less than half a per cent of variance in pay. Two per cent saw a greater than 10 per cent variance, with “conversion errors” and “design differences” the leading causes. Of 4,741 hourly workers, 71 per cent had no variance and 4 per cent had greater than 10 per cent discrepancy. Data entry errors were the biggest reason for the discrepancies.

UBC aimed for at least 90 per cent accuracy in this testing cycle, with all reasons for remaining errors known.


“While some employees may notice a difference to their net pay due to differences in calculations and timing of payroll deductions, there are no changes to employees’ salaries, pay rates, benefits coverage or income tax due to the transition to Workday,” Ross explained.

A September 2020 IRP submission to the Board said pay variances are expected to decrease over time.

“Of course, there will always be different humps and things when stuff like this happens. It’s not gonna be easy, it's going to be bumpy, of course. But we’ve really checked every box that we can,” said Holmes when asked about issues with pay variance.