Human resource information system (HRIS) companies promise the sun, the moon, and the stars. But they sometimes deliver an asteroid–and Ann Arbor’s been hit twice.
When the City of Ann Arbor switched to Ultimate Software’s UltiPro system in 2008, the company told Business Wire that the city “is on its way to saving approximately $540,000 over a five-year period. The organization hopes to achieve another $500,000 in soft-cost savings.”
City administrator Howard Lazarus got here only last year, but he says the software probably did save the city money. “UltiPro was the first true HRIS for the City, so it is safe to assume that the cost savings came from a significant reduction in labor costs for routine administrative tasks,” he emails. But according to human resources director Robyn Wilkerson, staff ran into problems with functionality, upgrades, and other issues–and grew increasingly frustrated with the company’s support. A June 2014 staff report complained that in six years, Ultimate had churned through at least seven “customer relationship managers” and at least fifteen “customer service representatives.”
So council voted to switch to a competing system called NuView. This time, the estimated five-year savings was $775,967.
NuView’s first phase was supposed to go live in January 2015. But the setup fell behind schedule, so in September 2014, the city had to issue an emergency $250,000 purchase order to extend the UltiPro contract. The 2016 budget vowed to “fully implement NuView HR and Payroll modules,” but once again it didn’t happen. Instead, after paying NuView $614,470, the city signed a new five-year contract with Ultimate.
Getting the right HRIS “is evolutionary and continual in nature,” Lazarus writes. But NuView is definitely in the rear view: the administrator says that “the City is considering its options to recover all or part of the payments made to NuView, which may require some form of legal action.”