Can we trust Workspace2?

I’m afraid that the answer to this question has to be “No”.

You may recall the problem I wrote about recently where the Fees-Free validation report had duplicate records for some providers and had to be re-released. That gave us a clue that all was not well in Workspace2.

The use of Workspace2 in relation to Fees-Free seems to be particularly badly affected as you will see from the following list.

  • A couple of weeks ago there were “intermittent login issues with Workspace 2”. You simply couldn’t login meaning that the template for the May Fees-Free return was not available.
  • Then when we did get the template and wanted to submit it we were told “We are experiencing intermittent login issues with Workspace 2. If you are unable to login, please contact the TEC Customer Contact Group on 0800 601 301 or email sectorhelpdesk@tec.govt.nz”.
  • The turnaround time for specific Fees-Free status requests is poor, apparently because they are processed manually and therefore only on working days.
  • The following message was sent out on 12 April. “Failure to load accurate Fees-Free data in Workspace 2. Please note: If you downloaded these files on April 10 or 11 please delete these as they contained errors. All learners that had their eligibility status changed as part of the statutory declaration process had their eligibility reset to ‘Unknown’ in error. The corrected versions are now published above.
  • Then there are the other discrepancies relating to students’ Fees-Free Eligibility status, for example: Can TEC explain how NSN nnnnnnnnnnn appears in 2018 Fees Free Consumption.csv and FeesFreeEligibility2019.CSV downloaded from Worksapce2 on 16-05-2019, but in the FeesFreeEligibility2019.CSV file the Fees Free Eligibility Flag is “Y” and not “8”? Apparently TEC cannot explain it because this question put to them on 17 May has yet to be answered.
  • The April Fees Free Multiple Providers and Cap Limit Report took a month to be released and now that it has, the report has invalid data in two columns.

Unfortunately, it is not just Workspace2 that is problematic. Have you tried to use the Search function on TEC’s web site? If you have, you were probably frustrated.

Often it doesn’t provide a response for even a straightforward search word or phrase. Other times it will provide several responses in a list but then not let you click through. I have been told that it is better just to use a Google search site specific search. For example, typing “Brendan Kelly site:tec.govt.nz” into a Google search will produce far more hits than entering “Brendan Kelly” into the search box on the TEC website. That tells you it has found 9 results but shows only 8.

Heaven protect us if any replacement for the SDR makes use of Workspace2 as a means of transferring files.

Overall it seems to me that there are a number of issues relating to TEC’s technology which come from poor business analysis, resulting in badly designed systems, further impacted by a lack of testing; but I stand to be corrected.

What do you think?