Lean and green: Benefits automation system unearths more value from ERP

Last year, one objective of the human resources (HR) department at Waterloo, Wis.-based Trek Bicycle Corp. was to run a leaner department by doing away with the manual aspects of moving employee information between the payroll system and benefits providers, such as insurance companies. In summer 2007, the bike maker installed a benefits automation system from bswift that allows employees to upd...

08/01/2008


Last year, one objective of the human resources (HR) department at Waterloo, Wis.-based Trek Bicycle Corp. was to run a leaner department by doing away with the manual aspects of moving employee information between the payroll system and benefits providers, such as insurance companies.

In summer 2007, the bike maker installed a benefits automation system from bswift that allows employees to update costs, coverage, and other post-enrollment administrative tasks that stem from events like birthdays or salary changes, and speeds employee enrollment in insurance plans.

Though the software pulls information from Trek's Ultipro payroll system from Ultimate Software , bswift performs the same benefits-management service for information found on companies' ERP systems, says Rich Gallun, CEO, bswift.

Benefits automation software essentially pulls pertinent information residing in the ERP system, and opens it up for benefits processing in ways the ERP system itself can't perform, Gallun says. In this way, the benefits software ramps up the functionality of the ERP system by tapping into and exploiting warehoused company information.

“Sometimes people overcomplicate how benefits automation would work with an ERP system, but really it's just a question of exchanging data and keeping that process as simple as possible,” Gallun says.

By automating benefits enrollment at Trek, the bswift system eliminated paperwork as well as the mistakes that can go undetected when redundantly entering data and faxing paperwork to benefits providers hither and yon, says Jennifer Pagels, Trek's HR manager.

“We'd been relying on paper-based faxing, which created issues when it came to ensuring that employee names and social security numbers we sent to vendors were accurate,” she says.



Lean and Green IT: A benefits automation software system in use by Trek Bicycle Corp. pulls pertinent HR information residing in the ERP system and opens it up for benefits processing in ways the ERP system itself can’t perform—cutting down on paperwork in the process.

Before bringing in the new system, when new hires came onboard, Trek's HR department asked them to study their benefit options and note benefit choices by filling out a series of forms. The HR staffers processed those forms by sending them to multiple vendors, and subsequently housing them in Trek files.

“It just took a lot of time and money,” Pagels says. “We've streamlined the process by empowering employees to own their data.”

Now at Trek, when an employee starts work, the payroll system automatically creates a new-hire profile within the benefits automation system. Once the profile is active, the employee logs on to choose benefits. The system automatically displays only the benefits the employee is eligible to receive.

“So rather than the HR manager touching this process nine times, it [amounts] to one or two,” explains Pagels.

Another plus: Staffers now have an online site to double-check benefits levels, deductible amounts, and the like. These measures give Trek HR staffers more time to concentrate on their other duties, and also ensure greater accuracy within benefits systems—something the HR department intended when eyeing lean principles.

The bswift software initially populated the system by taking data from Trek's payroll system and loading it into the bswift system, Gallun says, adding that bswift now conducts EDI transmissions to benefits vendors and maintains the link between Trek's payroll and the bswift system.

Pagels says the benefits automation system also speeded Trek's benefits enrollment processing, and has done away with paper—making the workplace a little more green.

“We're putting several resources in place to reduce paper, and this is another one of them,” Pagels reports.





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact, Middletown, Pa.; 2015 Best Practices: Automation, Electrical Safety, Electrical Systems, Pneumatics, Material Handling, Mechanical Systems
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Raising the standard: What's new with NFPA 70E; A global view of manufacturing; Maintenance data; Fit bearings properly
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Migrating industrial networks; Tracking HMI advances; Making the right automation changes
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers
Upgrading secondary control systems; Keeping enclosures conditioned; Diagnostics increase equipment uptime; Mechatronics simplifies machine design

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.