It was a challenge for Charmant's two-person Human Resources department to deal with the company's 130 employees, most of whom are US salespeople. Neither the number of employees nor its geographic distribution was the problem, however. Keith Andreotta, Charmant's Human Resources Manager, says the problem was the existing payroll software was terribly outmoded and hard to use. For instance, instead of using intuitive icons to access capabilities, users had to know codes.
The payroll software caused other problems for Charmant USA, which is part of a global company that distributes and sells eyewear with a focus on the United States. "There was not much of a reporting capability," says Andreotta. "I wanted ad hoc reporting so I could pull out of the payroll system various data for many reasons. To do it on our old system would take half a day to just figure out how to do a report."
The payroll system was also not integrated with the time-and-attendance system. Andreotta says "doing the payroll used to take the better part of a day because I would have to re-enter all the information from our time-and-attendance system onto the old payroll system."
Furthermore, upgrades for the antiquated payroll system were expensive and the vendor's customer service left a lot to be desired. "They were a huge company," says Andreotta, "and I had a hard time getting issues resolved in a timely way."
In 2003, Andreotta evaluated other solutions. When he looked at the Checkpoint HR system, he knew he'd found a winner. "My boss asked me if I'd stake my job on how well it worked, and I didn't hesitate - I said 'yes.'"
Checkpoint HR is a Human Resources business process outsourcer focused on middle market companies and offers a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) comprised of payroll, HR, and benefits.
The new payroll system is full featured, easy to use, and integrated with Checkpoint HR's benefits and human resources systems. That means time and attendance is integrated with payroll, so Andreotta does not have to rekey any data as in the past. Now a process that used to take almost a day takes about an hour. Payroll also lets him do tax filing, direct deposit, check stuffing, garnishment administration, year-end activities (like sending out W2s) as well as unemployment claims administration.
Now he can also generate all types of reports. For instance, Andreotta says, "I do hours and earnings reports, overtime reports, benefits reports, etc. In several of the states, he has to report the hours and earnings for everybody who lives in that state. With Checkpoint, he basically set up a report in about 20 minutes and runs it when needed with a few key strokes.
He automated his new hires and terminations reports. In setting them up, he has all new hire and termination data sent to him automatically in an email, so he doesn't have to go into his system to retrieve that data each month.
He can find out what the company has incurred in overtime hours for a given period or even for a given employee, find out who started working in what month and year, and so on.
Andreotta maintains that "with the Checkpoint HR system, I can create any type of ad hoc report. The old solution was limited as to what I could extract from the system; this one is limitless."
Checkpoint HR not only offers better quality performance but also many features the old system did not offer. To begin with, benefits and human resources administration are integrated with payroll; so actions in one system kick off necessary actions in others.
For example, now Checkpoint HR is also Andreotta's COBRA administrator. In the past, Andreotta administered his own COBRA plan and even at one point paid an outsourcing company to administer it. He claims having Checkpoint HR do it saves time and money. "Because benefits and payroll are in the same system," he adds, "all I have to do is go into the payroll system, terminate somebody, and it automatically generates COBRA notifications."
Andreotta says he used to pay to do most of his recruiting through the Monster.com online employment site. Now "I still do most of my recruiting through Monster.com," he says, "but it's included with my Checkpoint package, so it's an additional savings for me."
Background checks are also free. "We used to do them before," he explains, "but with Checkpoint it's part of the package so I don't have to pay for them either."
Checkpoint has also taken over management of the company's insurance providers. Charmant uses different providers for dental, health, and life; Checkpoint is the broker for all of them, serving as a liaison between Charmant and its various insurance companies. "Checkpoint is proactive and cares about my employees and the company. They've been great at seeking out the best coverage options for me - the most cost effective and highest quality products. And they've also been creative in coming up with various solutions to cut costs." Obviously, Andreotta adds, managing three insurance plans himself would have been time-consuming.
The system has other enhancements as well. One tab, for instance, keeps track of company property that employees are issued, and there are sections where Andreotta can put in supporting data like employee career backgrounds, education, training histories, and awards. Employees can also access the system, according to given security rights. "They have access to a home page that I use like an intranet," says Andreotta, "where I can put various information, notices, reminders, and forms."
"So it's not just a great payroll system," he adds, "it's a great HRIS. There is nothing I would ever want to track or maintain that this system could not track or maintain for me."
Premier Customer Service
The system has paid for itself many times over through time and cost savings due to labor-cutting capabilities. Andreotta is glad to be rid of costly upgrades, too. With Checkpoint HR upgrades are free and often--this keeps the system state of the art.
Customer service has also been excellent. Customers are encouraged to make recommendations about improvements to future versions. In fact, Andreotta is on Checkpoint HR's advisory board, which meets at least annually to discuss new features and services. CheckPoint tells its customers of improvements that the group recommended, as well as which were adopted and why.
In short, then, Andreotta is a convert--"I feel like I'm part of Checkpoint HR. They're such a resource to me that they could be sitting outside my door."
Lessons from the Outsourcing Journal:
- Human Resources business process outsourcers integrate HR, benefits, and payroll into one application so buyers don't have to perform redundant tasks like rekeying data from one system into another.
- Today suppliers serve mid-market buyers; they offer a full-featured solution for an affordable fee. Now small-to-medium sized business can afford the same outsourcing services that big companies have enjoyed.
- They also provide bonus capabilities like free online recruiting and management of the buyer's insurance providers that buyers otherwise would have to pay for and perform separately.