Insurance & Technology is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


07:43 AM
Connect Directly

Saving with Online HR Self-Service

CUNA Mutual drives internal efficiencies with HR product from Authoria and PeopleSoft.

With 5,000 employees, CUNA Mutual is certainly not the largest employer in insurance, but its internal HR applications are rapidly becoming among the most automated.

As CUNA Mutual ($9.3 million in assets), a Madison, WI-based provider of financial services to credit unions, rolled out services and technology in recent years to improve service to its customers, it also realized it could improve its own processes when it came to its human resources technology-and as a result, it could improveservices for employees.

"We have employees located all over the country and in many cases it is not easy for them to access an HR representative," says Terri Edman, vice president, compensation.

Although much of CUNA's internal HR information resided on a PeopleSoft (Pleasanton, CA) PeopleSoft 8 eBenefits Collaborative Application, the insurer still needed a way to deliver the information to employees over the Internet. "We had a lot of information on our intranet in various spots," says Mike Gollmar, IT manager, CUNA Mutual. "We were using a lot of paper forms and data entry and that was a resource drain," especially when it came to processing open enrollment applications each year. CUNA's goal: Provide dynamically generated, personalized answers to questions employees have about their health coverage, financial benefits, or sick and vacation time, online. CUNA needed a solution that could manage multiple data from this array of employees, as well as more than 25 different benefit plans.

Just as CUNA management began to explore ways to improve parts of the HR processes, the company was approached by PeopleSoft partner Authoria (Waltham, MA), a provider of Web-based applications for HR benefits. Authoria offered a Web-based solution that could help automate and organize much of human resources information. After doing the "due diligence and a cost-benefit analysis," CUNA selected Authoria HR 3.0, reports Gollmar.

"One reason why we selected Authoria is because a huge amount of the typical HR content was already built into their system," including common frequently asked questions (FAQ) about medical plans, medical plan rules and personalization functions that can tailor responses for a particular employee, based on plan eligibility, according to Edman. "Since Authoria can link to our PeopleSoft system, it can connect with the specific employee information."

Realizing that moving all HR processes to a Web-based solution at once was not feasible, CUNA developed a five-year, phased-in project that began with online benefits enrollment in April 2002 and will eventually include payroll, compensation, promotions-basically everything in the employee handbook, adds Edman. "We want employees and managers to be able to do almost everything related to HR on a self-service basis. We want them to go to Authoria for all of their questions for anything that they would ask HR."

Although Authoria provided a complete framework and already included many of the specifications for CUNA, the carrier still had to enter all of its company-specific policies and benefits. "The implementation went smoothly," says Gollmar. "However, one difficulty was consolidating and gaining a consensus on all of the answers that we present the employees. That took a lot of time. Another thing is, you have to have an answer for almost every question that an employee would ask, so we had to go in depth" for many of the answers.


To date, CUNA is seeing good results from its Web-based HR offering, Edman notes. "We are seeing gains on both sides," meaning the employee finds the system helpful and the HR department is enjoying productivity gains, she says.

According to an ROI study conducted by Cedar Enterprise Solutions (Baltimore), an HR consultancy, the implementation will deliver the following savings: a 50 percent reduction in cycle time, a 60 percent reduction in cost per transaction, a 75 percent reduction in inquiries made directly to HR and a 100 percent payback in one year. Overall, CUNA expects to realize $2.3 million in employee productivity gains over five years, according to Edman.


Case Study Closeup


CUNA Mutual Group, $9.3 million in assets, Madison, WI.


Life insurance & financial services to credit unions.


Authoria (Waltham, MA) HR 3.0, PeopleSoft (Pleasanton, CA) PeopleSoft 8 eBenefits Collaborative Application.


Provide personalized HR information to employees, 24/7.

Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio

Register for Insurance & Technology Newsletters