ComSuper Staff Get New Skills

ComSuper Staff Get New Skills

The Commonwealth superannuation funds administrator, ComSuper, is pushing a range of initiatives to boost the skills of its IT development staff as it oversees implementation of an administration system to support a new public sector superannuation plan by July.

ComSuper Chief Information Officer David Johnson says the agency decided after careful consideration to outsource the operating platform it will use to administer the new plan, to software supplier Financial Synergy using their Acurity system.

This will lead to considerable changes in the duties of staff in the IT shop, which has traditionally built and maintained all software in-house.

"After a lot of soul-searching about what was best for our superannuation members and the organization, we decided to outsource the ongoing development to Financial Synergy. This introduces a cultural change inside of my IT area, since we won't be developing systems. A lot of my time has actually been (spent) working with my staff, consultants and the rest of the business showing them the value of this strategy" Johnson says.

ComSuper, an Australian Government Business Unit, is responsible for the day to day administration of the CSS, PSS, Military Super and DFRDB superannuation schemes for members of the Australian Public Service, participating employers, and members of the Australian Defence Force. Acurity is one of two software packages being introduced to administer the new Public Sector Superannuation Scheme - Accumulation Plan (PSSap), which is well on track to be live by 1 July 2005. The legislation begins to move public servants from defined benefits towards the type of accumulation packages more common in the non-government world.

Subsequently ComSuper will move from its two current superannuation systems - CAPITAL, a proprietary system produced by SyncSoft, and ComSAS, an in-house developed system based on Oracle/Oracle Forms - to Acurity for the back office superannuation system and E-Pass from Essential to deliver a richer set of online services to client Commonwealth government departments and superannuation members.

E-Pass will enable a "quantum leap" in ComSuper's online presence by providing tools to help employers better manage data coming into the agency. The agency is currently training employees in payroll centres around Australia on use of the new tools.

"We had a serious look at our investment in our existing systems and chose not to continue with those two but to branch out on Acurity because it is one of the industry-leading packages for what we do," Johnson says.

"We have probably got more in common with the private sector in that regard than the public sector - there aren't many public sector superannuation organizations as large as us. We chose this package after an evaluation process and we're establishing the new accumulation scheme on that package by July".

"The project kicked off in the middle of last year, with analysis and design followed by software establishment commencing November last year. The project is on track."

Johnson says "Some staff traditionally employed in the development area will be reassigned to a consolidation project designed to move CAPITAL and ComSAS to the same platform as Acuity".

"We have introduced a range of initiatives giving people opportunities to upskill, certification, training opportunities and so on, and I've been very open with them about where we're going with this. It won't happen overnight obviously but over several years the change will occur," Johnson says.

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