Jun 22 2020

Hawaii Makes Shift from Legacy Paper Processes

A new digital payroll system creates efficiencies for the state’s government.

Though some digital transformation projects in state governments will likely be put on hold due to the budgetary fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, state governments are still enthusiastic about shifting more to digital services

However, in the Aloha State, IT officials finished a major digital upgrade of an old-fashioned government process. Earlier this month, Hawaii launched a new digital time and leave system designed to make its payroll process more accurate and efficient. The first group of employees transitioned to the new system in time for a June 5 payday.

Under the new system, which uses the Oracle PeopleSoft Time and Labor and Absence Management applications, timesheets and leave requests are now transmitted electronically to payroll offices. The updated system replaces a labor-intensive and paper-based manual tracking approach to employee pay calculation. 

The upgrade was set in motion well before the pandemic but has proven fruitful, since paper-based processes are even less useful than before with so many state employees working remotely. 

“The timing has been good because we do have a lot of people working from home and that’s going to be part of the future of government operations, and having systems where people can go online instead of having to fill out what are in some cases carbon paper forms will be a lot better,” Hawaii CIO Douglas Murdock tells StateScoop. “We still have a bunch of forms for doing time and leave processing that are carbon paper multi-page forms that are being eliminated by the new system.”

Hawaii Gains Efficiencies by Going Digital

The Oracle-based system eliminates a 40-year-old paper process that required employees to submit a hard copy of their timesheets and leave request forms. Users can now quickly correct and resubmit timesheets to update payable time for payroll. It also supports an intuitive, user-friendly platform that gives them access to real-time data online.

The updated system also gives human resources officials secured access to data and streamlines their workflow. About 800 employees transitioned to the new system in the first group, consisting of employees in Hawaii’s Department of Accounting and General Services, the office of the governor and the office of the lieutenant governor. Hawaii says that larger groups of employees will be brought into the new system throughout 2020 and 2021.

The project is being implemented by the Hawaii Modernization Initiative, which is under the purview of the Department of Accounting and General Services, in coordination with the Office of Enterprise Technology Services.

Responding to the coronavirus pandemic has taken priority and slowed the transition to the new system, since workers need to confirm the accuracy of certain data and workflows before the transition can be completed, according to StateScoop.

READ MORE: Find out how states can partner to speed up software development. 

“It’s sort of the traditional data-cleansing you see anytime you bring an IT system on board,” Murdock says. “People that would have been working on doing data-cleansing ended up having to do pandemic-type activities. So, for example, the Department of Labor is super busy trying to process unemployment claims. The Department of Health is very busy doing pandemic contact-tracing.”

The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of newer technologies for Hawaii, including Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe Sign, enabling the state’s workforce to continue operating remotely. 

“It’s been changing the culture of how we do business, but when COVID happened all of the sudden everybody wanted their process to be e-sign, even the last holdouts,” Murdock tells StateScoop. “They needed to be able to work from home and process things with people who were working from home, so that’s a positive side effect is people have been more open to those kinds of things.”

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