PepsiAmericas was using a PeopleSoft HRMS system for payroll last year but was still struggling with cumbersome spreadsheets for other compensation issues. That’s when a salesperson from Authoria made a cold call, offering the company’s knowledge management tools. The timing was perfect.
"We were trying to figure out how to get summary plan benefits out," says Dana Sacks, vice president of compensation and benefits and human resources information systems for PepsiAmericas, an independently owned Pepsi bottler with 15,000 employees worldwide.
Putting the benefit plan books out involved wrestling with big spiral-bound notebooks and the added expense of printing and mailing them.
Authoria’s solution was to do it online, which not only cut through a lot of time-consuming labor but also offered the possibility of easy updates that would allow PepsiAmericas to keep up to date with program changes. PeopleSoft had the ability to mix and match its products and had a working arrangement with Authoria that allowed a hookup to its HRMS system.
"Our IT department has always wanted us to leverage PeopleSoft to its full extent. In my mind, that doesn’t always mean using PeopleSoft applications," Sacks says. "Authoria is a PeopleSoft partner. They have knowledge of how PeopleSoft works. That was a big advantage to us."
The decision to go with Authoria is part of a trend: Leading HRMS companies are flexible enough to open their systems for add-ons that workforce managers are demanding in order to better train, track and reward the talent in their companies. Enterprise HRMS systems run by Oracle, SAP and Lawson Software collect vast amounts of data. Talent management software companies like Authoria develop ways to put that employee information to strategic use.
Todd Chambers, vice president of marketing for Authoria, puts it this way: "It’s all about how you identify your top performers, how you make sure you are paying them appropriately, how you retain them, grow them and move them to midlevel manager, then upper-level management."
"There was a positive return on our investment in Year One. It was quicker, faster, cheaper."
Sacks is sold on partnerships like the one between PeopleSoft and Authoria, particularly the way it came into play in streamlining the disbursement of bonus checks to PepsiAmericas employees. Under the old system, bonuses were being figured out on spreadsheets. Mistakes were being made. People weren’t getting their checks. These days, everyone is happy, Sacks says.
"There was a positive return on our investment in Year One," Sacks says. "It was quicker, faster, cheaper."
For Sacks, shopping around for human resources software means learning a bit more about IT than she might have thought she needed. "I’m doing my best to learn this IT stuff," she says.
She says PepsiAmericas uses Authoria’s Knowledge Manager for benefit plans and Manager Advisor for performance reviews, while Compensation Advisor helped her get out from under the bonus problem. Compensation Advisor now calculates bonuses, processes merit increases and performs other duties.
PepsiAmericas purchased the software for Compensation Advisor, but Authoria hosts the program off-site. Authoria is responsible for running the system. Pepsi Americas updates its own information internally.
"Updating the system ourselves is important to us," Sacks says. The company’s benefits people know benefits, "but they are not particularly technical. We need someone to manage the system."
That type of flexibility is a hallmark of cutting-edge systems, as is their ability to save a company from cumbersome and error-prone spreadsheets.
"The last time we used spreadsheets, I think we had an additional 1,200 checks to send out because of errors," she says. "Contrast that to February this year: We had no errors; the checks went out on time."
Workforce Management, June 2005, pp. 59-60 --Subscribe Now!