Case study


The Payroll Personnel System (PPS) used to pay the 190,000 employees of the University of California has been in use for nearly 35 years, with 11 different versions now running University-wide. PPS is difficult to use, maintain, and enhance, resulting in divergent customizations, development of shadow systems and inconsistent business processes that are costly to maintain and no longer provide timely and complete decision support data to manage UC’s complex workforce. The UCPath implementation also includes a UC-wide effort to standardize HR and payroll business processes and deploy a shared services center to support HR and payroll transaction processing and provide faculty and staff customer service.


The UCPath Project aligns with the Working Smarter Initiative by implementing technology and operational changes that will yield sustainable long-term cost savings and quality and service improvement. Unified data UC-wide will efficiently support decision making. Employees will have ready access to job information and receive higher-quality payroll and HR service. Common business processes will enable payroll and HR operations to be more effective and efficient. In all, the UCPath Project will enable UC to improve HR and payroll operations at a lower cost than today.


This new business environment is being developed as a collaborative effort with participation from the Campus Controllers, Chief Human Resource Officers, and Academic Personnel Officers, along with teams of subject‐matter experts. In September 2011, several UC-wide teams began designing common business processes aligned with the new system and the UCPath Center. As that effort finishes, other teams are developing interfaces, planning for campus implementations and configuring the system to meet UC’s business needs. There remains a very high level of enthusiasm for this project and a strong desire across the University to standardize and streamline payroll and related HR processes and practices.


While the core payroll and human resources needs across the University are not significantly different, systems, processes and practices today vary greatly among and within campuses and medical centers. Agreeing to and implementing common practices to capitalize on new technology and the UCPath Center is a major effort. Roles and responsibilities with HR, Payroll and Academic Personnel functions may change and will require clarification. Finally, fitting UCPath to the needs and regulatory requirements of a complex organization like UC will require strong discipline to adopt uniform, aligned processes while minimizing system customizations.

Project Costs

Total costs, including vendor software licensing and implementation support costs, UC employee and project staffing costs, improvements to the UCPath Center facility, and deployment of the shared service center are estimated at approximately $220 million.

Fiscal results, current and anticipated

In two studies ten years apart, PwC estimated that approximately 20% of the University’s payroll/HR staff time is spent on problem resolution or rework. By implementing UC-wide payroll and HR systems and transforming related business processes, PwC estimates that the University could achieve long-term cost and efficiency savings of $31-$123 million annually. In addition to measurable cost savings, UCPath capability will enable workforce planning, analysis, and reporting that is not easy or even possible today.

Current action and next steps

UCPath implementation activities are well underway. The central and campus project teams, governance groups and several work teams are engaged in a variety of project work streams, including business process redesign, interface design and development, data clean up and conversion, financial systems integration, UCPath Center technology planning and data warehouse design.

Concluding Statement

As UC considers how it will administratively support its threefold mission of teaching, research and public service, it is clear that UC’s business processes must be both more effective and more efficient than in the past. Importantly, UC must have both – business and support operations that are more efficient and also more effective, allowing UC to support its mission in innovative and timely ways. As UC acts on its vision for excellence in business operations, a logical place to begin is with the processes and systems that are utilized to pay and manage its dynamic workforce.