Avaya Learns An Expensive IT Lesson About Transitioning HR Systems

Back in the fall of 2002, $5.3 billion software firm Avaya purchased a brand new human resources database and payroll system. At the same time, it hired a new senior systems analyst. That analyst quickly reconsidered his decision and withdrew his acceptance of the position. Due to a problem with the database transition, the HR database removed him but the payroll system—with its new integrated direct deposit system—didn't. Yep, payroll kept depositing checks into his account for years, giving the non-employee almost a half-million dollars.

New Jersey prosecutors have charged the almost-employee, Anthony Armatys, with theft, and he faces as many as six years in prison. Given that the checks kept getting deposited for more than four years (from October 2002 through February 2007) makes one wonder how long they would have continued had the systems analyst, according to the prosecutors, not chosen to push his luck. The Somerset County Prosecutor's Office said that Armatys called Fidelity Investments, said he was an employee of Avaya and asked to transfer funds from his retirement savings account to his personal account. The irony is Avaya's tagline: "Avaya delivers Intelligent Communications solutions that help companies transform their businesses to achieve marketplace advantage." Wonder if that always includes payroll systems that don't stop paying employees when HR deletes them or if that's just a homegrown extra?