Synergetic v69 incorporating Single Touch Payroll is now live. Find out how to upgrade your school to the latest version, in time for the 2019 payroll year. Plus test drive the new, responsive Community Portal.
V69 update, STP plus Community Portal
Version 69 released with Single Touch Payroll
Our last newsletter in June was released just prior to the production release of v69 for our clients. The major feature in the initial release of v69 was our support for Single Touch Payroll (STP), which is a requirement established by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) for all Australian employers.
The final milestone enabling our v69 release for production systems was the completion of the necessary testing and approval steps mandated by the ATO. We successfully completed the ATO’s final Product Verification Testing requirement, which used a single client’s live environment to send a real pay run via STP for the ATO to confirm the content was correctly transmitted. We would like to sincerely thank Tintern Grammar in Victoria for taking part in this final test and facilitating the implementation of our first live STP environment.
The final test was submitted on 14th June to the ATO’s internal verification process to complete—we received notification from the ATO of their approval on Friday 29th June and immediately announced our Gold Release for client production systems.
As this timing coincided with both the school holidays and the commencement of the new payroll year, there were a number of clients who were keen to obtain the v69 release and commence using STP as soon as possible. Synergetic committed to accommodating any client requests for a v69 upgrade, and over the course of the July school holiday period we deployed v69 to a significant number of client sites, who now are able to utilise the STP functionality.
Currently, we have 65 clients using v69 within their live environment, of which 29 individual clients have now gone live with STP and transmitted data to the ATO several times. Synergetic has also been using STP for our own payroll process since July 1st 2018.
Using STP for the first time? What’s involved…
If you have not yet transitioned to using v69 and the STP functionality, below is a brief summary of what to expect:
Around the time of your v69 upgrade commencing, one of our team members will request to make contact with your staff member responsible for Payroll to discuss a few configuration aspects and offer some initial guidance on how to enable STP.
Synergetic will then configure your organisation within the STP sending service provider using Ozedi, which acts as a secure transmission gateway to the ATO’s own server.
Once you have completed any initial setup activities such as updating Pay Codes for any changes relating to how STP operates, you will be able to enable the STP logic (it is set to disabled by default) and process your first pay run.
Synergetic are aiming to monitor the initial send for each client, just to verify that each point in the transmission process is working as expected, with no network or other issues appearing.
Once the STP transmission has been sent, you will see a status update within Synergetic, and once the response from ATO is received, this will also be reflected in a new status update within Synergetic. Turnaround time for the response from ATO can be anywhere from a few minutes, to an hour or more—it is dependent on the load experienced by the ATO’s own servers at the time and can vary from day-to-day.
Once you receive the success response from the ATO, you have successfully completed your STP run.Congratulations!
Deferred commencement of STP
As we had indicated in prior communications to clients, Synergetic obtained special approval from the ATO for our clients to commence STP transmissions at a later date than the legislated 1st July 2018.
This is known as a vendor-based deferral, and was granted to Synergetic on behalf of our clients, to help support organisations who are not able to upgrade to v69 and use STP from the beginning of the 2019 payroll year. Typically this is related to sites who are running versions of Synergetic earlier than our v68 release (as the move to v68 with its single database architecture is larger and more complex than our usual version upgrades).
The deferral window granted by the ATO is up to and including 31st January 2019. All Australian clients who are using Synergetic’s Payroll module and who have not yet upgraded their live environment to v69, will need to arrange a version upgrade to v69 and enable STP before this end date.
If you believe you have additional extenuating circumstances that will require your organisation to defer STP commencement later than 31st January, you will need to arrange your own employer-based deferral with the ATO directly.
Vote for features
While STP was the first main feature for our v69 release, it is not intended to be the only feature. We will be continuing to add extra functionality into v69 via incremental product build updates as these new features are completed and become ready for release.
Have your say on the features you would like to see via the Discourse, our Synergetic community forum. Our support and development teams are actively participating in the forum, incorporating your ideas and suggestions into our product roadmap.
Community Portal – Interim Responsive style now available
In our previous newsletter (and at our recent user summits), we mentioned that we are working on an interim approach that will allow our current Community Portal interface to present more responsively to users. The style and layout of the Community Portal’s existing content will now adapt according to the screen size and device being used. This enables parents to view your Community Portal on their various devices (including mobiles and tablets) and the content will adapt accordingly.
The approach involves installing a custom style resource we have created called Flex (pictured right), which overlays the existing Portal and transforms it with the new look.
We have now made Flex available for our clients to download, install and test.
For more information around capabilities and use, head to https://bit.ly/2NJa2Df
Keeping Synergetic up to date
Upgrading is an essential process to keep your Synergetic installation up to date with the latest fixes and improvements. These are available as ‘major’ version upgrades and ‘minor’ build updates.
- Major upgrades: upgrading Synergetic to the next version (eg: v67 to v68, v68 to v69). These upgrades typically contain design changes and additional features as well as fixes.
- Minor updates: updating Synergetic to the latest build of the currently installed version (eg: v67.25 to v67.52, v68.21 to v68.34). These updates typically contain fixes and small feature changes.
How to book an upgrade
Booking an upgrade is fairly straight forward. Upgrades are available during business hours (at no additional cost) or after hours (at cost and subject to availability).
Log in to our Service Desk – jira.synergetic.net.au – under ‘Upgrades & Installs’, select ‘Upgrade Request’ and enter the details.
Call our Support team on +61 3 9803 8111
Make sure to let us know the preferred date and time, as well as which environment requires upgrading (production, test or development). There is a significant demand for upgrades, please plan ahead and book early to secure your preferred date.
If you’re unsure which version to upgrade to, feel free to give us a call to discuss. You can find a list of available versions together with features and release notes at our Synergetic User Hub.
Based on past experience and feedback from clients who have undergone the process, we have adjusted the scope and time estimates required to perform upgrades from v67 to v68. Moving forward we need to allocate a full day during business hours (9am to 5pm AEST Monday to Friday) for upgrades to v68. This takes into account the time required for the backups, creation and migration from multi-database model to a single database model, copying data from the old databases into the new database, performing the application upgrades to v68, reconfiguring database settings for the new design, testing, rectifying faults and sign-off. There’s a lot that we’re trying to achieve.
Our aim is to make the transition to v68 as seamless as possible, and trying to compress the amount of work required into a ‘regular’ Synergetic upgrade timeslot has not been as successful as we would have liked. The initiative to allocate a full day in advance will allow our clients and Synergetic staff to work together to address any issues that may arise during the process, as well as reduce the level of uncertainty as to when staff can start using the system again. We appreciate the inconvenience of having Synergetic offline for a full day as it is the central ‘hub’ for the school. With this in mind, we assure you that after upgrading to v68, all future upgrades and updates will only require a small outage (1 to 2 hours) and will also be available after hours.
At a Glance
The Systems team have been hard at work designing and implementing a new Systems Service Desk specialising in managing your upgrade and installation requests. As a result you may notice the ticket numbers have changed from ‘SSD’ to ‘SYS’. The new system will improve the team’s ability to quickly respond to your requests.
How are we doing?
As of today, we have 103 clients now using v68 and 65 clients using v69 in production. So far this year the Systems team has performed over 330 production upgrades. The team has also performed over 200 installations which include new client implementations, server installations and product deployments.
Minor updates from v68 will generally be performed using Octopus Deploy (our automated upgrade process). This allows the team to quickly and accurately provide upgrades. The upgrade process is still the same—the team will always give you a call before starting. We will also manually log in and test the environment after the upgrade is complete. V69 upgrades require Octopus Deploy to be in place prior to the upgrade commencing.