The University of Wisconsin System is working to implement a state-of-the-art Appointment, Payroll and Benefits System (APBS) to manage payroll and benefits, human resource functions, and meet reporting requirements. The State of Wisconsin may also be considering a similar project in the near future.

Planning for the UW’s project began more than five years ago, and the project’s current emphasis is in line with the UW System’s ongoing commitment to efficiency and effectiveness.

Questions have been raised about the APBS project. The following is a backgrounder about the system.

  • The upgraded system, known as APBS, is necessary to replace the UW’s approaching-30-year-old mainframe operation that will soon be out-of-date. The new implementation will allow us to combine human resources management, payroll and benefits into one system as cost-effectively as possible.
  • When a system is fully implemented, we anticipate cost savings due to reduced staff needs, self-service, and improved data reporting. The state of Michigan recently implemented the same system for approximately the same number of employees as UW at a cost of nearly $50 million, and Michigan estimates it will save more than $20 million over five years.
  • It is important to note that systems of this nature are complicated and expensive to implement. For example, the California State University System spent nearly $6 million per campus to implement an APBS system. UW’s costs are not anticipated to be that high.
  • Software and technical assistance for the system are being provided by Lawson Software of St. Paul, Minn., a major provider of human resources information management systems in the public sector, healthcare, professional services, financial, retail and other strategic markets. We have added to our efficiency by asking UW System staff to take on additional job duties related to this upgrade wherever possible.
  • All campuses must be ready to participate in the system before it can be launched. Each UW campus is currently at a different level of readiness in terms of launching the system. It is especially important that UW-Madison, the system’s largest campus, be ready to participate. The project is currently focusing on a Madison campus needs assessment to assure that our largest and most-complex campus’ needs will be met.
  • It is worth noting that the APBS project has required more funding at this point in the process than was estimated when it began five years ago. To date, the project has required approximately $25 million in staff and purchasing costs. Further cost projections and timelines will be available in October, following a completion of the UW-Madison campus assessment.
  • UW System Executive Vice President Don Mash is serving as chair of the project’s steering committee and is providing leadership to meet implementation challenges discovered during a recent review of the project’s budget and progress to date.