BenefitsEmployee EngagementEnabling Technology

Making Benefits Software Work for You

How to properly vet technology solutions for HR optimization.
By Paul Horalek
2014 brings with it a bevy of new regulatory changes and compliance measures, and these need to be addressed to avoid costly penalties. This is even more critical now as companies look to comply with mandates coming from the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
New guidelines like variable-hour tracking, summaries of benefits coverage and plan-reporting requirements will present significant hurdles for employers to follow.
In addition to having to implement measures to maintain compliance, HR personnel will need to identify ways to prove adherence to new rules—something that can be done by utilizing robust, dedicated HR software solutions.
With constantly changing directives and new regulations coming down the pipeline, and with renewed budgets set for the year, many companies will look to invest in new technology that can help enhance HR processes and improve departmental efficiencies, in addition to ensuring that new measures meet the scope of the latest directives.
But, while technology can certainly be considered advantageous in improving overall operational efficiencies for HR departments, choosing the wrong approach can 
be equally as detrimental to your organization and your bottom line.
Getting on Track
As helpful as technology solutions can be toward ensuring your organization is on the right path and achieving a higher level of business functionality, so too can they result in damaging consequences for your organization if mishandled or mismanaged. Choosing the wrong software solution can result in the needs of your organization not being adequately met. That can often result in non- compliance. While this alone can be costly in the case of an audit, rectifying the situation can be costly as well.
Implementing a solution that does not directly meet the needs of your organization head-on can actually have the opposite effect on workplace productivity by reducing efficiency. In addition, repairing the issue can be costly as well, because fixes can be done in one of two ways: by creating manual processes for the HR team to track and record needed information, or through expensive customizations that need to be configured to sufficiently meet the needs of your organization.
Finding the Right Fit
Not all HR technology and software solutions are
created equal, and the needs of each company can vary dramatically, making it that much more important to know what you’re looking for and what will help improve your organization’s operations. Holistically evaluating your processes to gain a thorough insight into what is working, what needs improvement, and where complications are happening can go a long way toward helping you identify the right technology to address your needs. Here are a
few additional considerations to take into account when vetting potential solutions.
Particularly for large organizations with numerous moving parts and pieces, automation should be a key consideration—especially when dealing with ramifications stemming from the ACA. Automated systems will not
only limit human interaction, thus cutting down (or virtually eliminating) the potential for human error, but an automated system will also allow organizations an opportunity to streamline processes and ensure compliance measures are adhered to.
With industry regulations constantly evolving and new standards coming through on almost a quarterly basis, it’s important for your system to have a level of flexibility to handle shifting requirements. The more flexible your technology can be, the more sustainable it will be in its ability to effectively meet future challenges in addition to present tasks.
IT Governance

Wherever possible, as a best practice, consolidate your technology within one unified system. This is more commonly an issue with larger companies—where multiple HR departments in multiple locations may be running multiple systems. A move to one single database with a single technology resource across the entire organization will help streamline operational processes.
Keep in mind that simply implementing the newest and most sophisticated technology will not solve all of your problems. Even top of the line software can be rendered incompetent if the end user does not know how to properly access it and apply its functionality. In addition
to appropriately vetting new software to ensure it is a suitable fit for your needs, invest the time and effort to properly train employees as well. Ensure that you provider either manages the technology themselves or includes an thorough training process—and that your team is up to the challenge.
Before you finalize any decision, remember that technology is a tool above all things, not a cure-all remedy. Ensure that any solution is the right one to fit your company’s needs—paying particular attention to ACA compliance—and that it’s flexible enough to grow with you as your company (and regulations) inevitably change.
Paul Horalek serves as chief information officer of Group Associates.

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