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Follow the Rules

Blue Shield of California centralizes human resources systems and automates workflows with Enterprise Human Capital Management solution.

Antiquated and disparate HR systems prevented Blue Shield of California (San Francisco; $7.5 billion in annual revenue) from enforcing workflow and documentation policies, hurting productivity, according to Marianne Jackson, the carrier's SVP for HR. "We were facing disparate HR systems that were not integrated, and policies were inconsistent because we lacked business rules," she says. For example, the HR department processed personnel information changes manually -- handwritten on carbon-copied forms. "This resulted in a highly inefficient, slow process, with frequently lost forms, illegible documentation and departmentwide confusion," Jackson adds.

In May 2004, Jackson relates, the carrier began searching for a solution to centralize and automate the HR systems and promote employee self-service through Web-based tools. Blue Shield sought a solution that also could standardize its more than 150 workflows. Blue Shield selected version 8.9 of PeopleSoft's Enterprise Human Capital Management (HCM) solution over Oracle's Human Resource Management System because, according to Jackson, it was easier to use and didn't require much training.

"To avoid resistance within our staff, we went with PeopleSoft because of the workflow capabilities," Jackson says. "Managers don't really have to know the product to use it -- they can just follow guidance from the system. We wanted to minimize customization to the product." HCM automates administrative transactions, such as payroll and billing, with the use of a business rules engine and includes a workforce planning module, Jackson notes.

Blue Shield purchased the Enterprise HCM product in December 2004, as Oracle (Redwood Shores, Calif.) was in the midst of acquiring PeopleSoft. A month later, with the help of developers from Blue Shield's implementation partner, DuMonde Solutions (Palo Alto, Calif.), the insurer installed what is now Oracle's PeopleSoft Enterprise HCM 8.9 on a load-balanced Unix application server and Web servers running on an Oracle database platform, according to Jackson. The carrier's disparate workflows then were entered into the system so a standard could be created.

The implementation was completed in January 2005. "It was really important to us that we selected a package that ... allowed us to do a plug-and-play implementation," Jackson says.

According to Jackson, the deployment has improved workflow and productivity. "We went to one line manager instead of having almost 5,000 employees touching each transaction every time they want to change an address," she says. "Business rules handle the rest." As a result, the carrier has trimmed and reallocated the HR staff. Further, cycle times have decreased dramatically, says Jackson -- in some instances, from two weeks to just seconds.

Between labor and paper, Blue Shield estimates its cost savings will reach nearly $10 million by 2008. The insurer hopes to complete the implementation of additional HCM modules -- including eComp, which allows employees to view their compensation online, and eRecruit, an electronic recruiting system -- within the next three years, Jackson adds.



Blue Shield of California (San Francisco; $7.5 billion in annual revenue).

lines of business

Group and individual health, life and vision.


Oracle's (Redwood Shores, Calif.) PeopleSoft Enterprise Human Capital Management solution.


Centralize HR systems and increase workforce productivity.

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