UCPath Team
Representatives of the UC Davis UCPath Team. From left: Caleb Smith, Jennifer Gastineau, Marion Randall, Kobe Childs-Floyd, Susan McCutcheon, Linda Durst, Bobby Lasky, Susana Lee, Alida Bailey and Drew Pokorney. (Valerie Orick/UC Davis)

On the 'Path' to Our New HR and Payroll System

Published in Dateline on May 23, 2017

In the early 1980s, around the time when IBM had just introduced its first PC (for those of you who are old enough to remember typewriters), UC Davis was implementing a new payroll technology called Payroll Personnel System (PPS) for its 1,400 teaching faculty and 6,000 staff. Fast-forward about 35 years, and UC Davis has grown into a top-ranked university and cutting-edge health system, employing over 33,500 faculty and staff, yet it is still reliant on decades-old payroll technology. PPS, like the IBM 5150, will not last forever. UC Davis is now part of a systemwide initiative to replace PPS and other payroll technologies currently in use throughout the UC system with one enterprise Human Resources Information System (HRIS) called UCPath.

UCPath, which stands for Payroll, Academic Personnel, Timekeeping and Human Resources, is a complex technology initiative, spanning all 10 UC campuses, five medical centers and five other UC-owned organizations. The Office of the President has already gone live with UCPath, and UCLA, UC Riverside and UC Merced are set to go live later this year. UC Davis will go live with UCPath in summer 2018, along with Agriculture and Natural Resources, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz. In addition to the new HRIS software, a UCPath Center has been established in Riverside to process high-volume payroll, benefits and human resources transactions for all UC locations, achieving economies of scale for the UC system.

UCPath at UC Davis

Preparations for UCPath are in full swing here at the Davis campus and UC Davis Health. In coordination with the Office of the President project team, a group of subject matter experts, technical staff, and representatives from departments, schools and colleges have come together to form the UC Davis project team, led by seven senior leaders and a steering committee which includes 31 department heads and assistant deans. Together, this group has been reviewing current processes and mapping out more than 100 payroll and personnel transactions that will be conducted in UCPath.

“Looking at our current processes and comparing them to what they will be in the future is really detailed work,” said Sara Reed, Executive Director of the UC Davis Shared Services Center, “but I see it as an opportunity to take a closer look at our processes and identify best practices.”

Once fully implemented, UCPath will become a systemwide payroll and Human Resources Information System (HRIS) for over 190,000 employees. As a HRIS, UCPath will provide data analysis capabilities both at the systemwide and at the local level. “Without a HRIS we continue to lack the ability to access data, systems and processes that drive our work in a consistent, orderly fashion. We need UCPath to help us do our jobs and support the mission of our university,” said Brenda Rebman, Chief Human Resources Officer.

But the benefits of UCPath do not come without some give-ups. Because UCPath is an enterprise technology, it will not have the same customizations that payroll staff have become accustomed to with PPS.

Payroll Analyst Kobe Childs-Floyd, who has been working on the UCPath project at UC Davis for that last few years, noted, “UCPath represents a significant change to the way we do our everyday work and for that reason, people are often concerned about this major transition. Nevertheless, I am hopeful that once employees are well trained, and feeling more confident about using the new system, they will quickly recognize the many benefits of UCPath.”

Putting more self-service options into employees' hands

In addition to the improved technology and resulting improvements to payroll and personnel processes, UCPath includes an employee self-service function, which provides 24/7 access to payroll and benefits information all in one UCPath mobile-friendly website supported by the UCPath Center.

UC Davis Health IT Manager Susana Lee noted, “We have been using an earlier version of PeopleSoft at UC Davis Health for the last 17 years, and the transition to UCPath will be a natural progression to a newer version of PeopleSoft with added functionality.”

Brent Seifert, Assistant Dean for Academic Personnel at School of Medicine, added, “When it comes down to it, UCPath really brings the entire university onto a platform that supports best practices in human resource management. We are working hard to align our processes and standards throughout the organization and we think it will have long-term benefits.”

Training on the UCPath system will begin in winter 2018. To learn more about the UCPath project and to receive notifications about training and information sessions, sign up for monthly project updates