Magazine for Senior Financial Executives: Remote Control For HR

Remote Control For HR

Brian O’Connell

Administering employee benefits is an increasingly complicated challenge, and at smaller companies, it’s a challenge that may end up on a finance manager’s desk. To ease the human-resources workload, some companies outsource part or all of their administrative chores.

A new form of outsourcing relief is an Internet-based benefits-management service, offered by Atlanta-based Employease Inc. (www.employease.com). Called Employease Network, the service is targeted primarily at third-party administrators, but also at small-to-midsized companies that lack the IT resources to ramp up their HR efforts.

“All you need is a browser and a password,” says John Nail, chairman and cofounder of the three-year-old company. “There’s no hardware and no software costs.” Customers pay a setup fee and a monthly fee of $2 to $4 per employee record kept in the service’s central database.

To start, a customer loads its employee management files into the database-often by transmitting basic Excel spreadsheets. Anytime an HR staffer needs to upgrade an employee’s 401(k) plan or modify health plan information, he simply calls up Employease’s Web site and enters the company’s password to access the employee’s files.

Features of the service include monthly invoices for all lines of coverage, benefits statements, and employee self-service if so desired. What about maintaining security for this sensitive type of information? “The biggest surprise we found is that security is a nonevent for our customers,” says Nail. Given the choice, many companies would prefer to keep such information in a secure, off-site location, adds Nail, rather than in office file cabinets or computer systems.

One customer, Abaton.com Inc., swears by the service. “We’d been using basic tools like spreadsheets-sometimes 15 different ones at a time-to gather and reconcile billing, invoicing, and recordkeeping,” notes Andrea Crespo, director of HR at the Bloomington, Minn.-based firm, which automates clinical transactions for physicians. “But we recently purchased Employease, and the difference has been tremendous. Before it would take me twice as long to handle those functions. The whole process is easy-everything is in one location.”

COPYRIGHT 1998 CFO Publishing Corp.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group