Editor’s note: Scott Secor is the president of Oryel, a Raleigh-based company that provides web-based human capital management solutions to mid-market companies. He also serves as an instructor for the Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s (CED) FastTrac Tech course. This is the latest in a series of Entrepreneurial Spirit columns for LTW from the membership of CED.
_______________________________________________________________________________________American business is constantly challenged to change. Mergers and acquisitions, tax law changes, legislative changes — all of which burden already overstretched human resources, benefits, and payroll functions.

Help exists. State-of-the-art solutions are available for managing change and for delivering access to critical information.

Self-service portals are being widely discussed in trade publications and online as progressive add-ons to effective HR programs. Once available only to large corporations, new web-based technologies are delivering the same convenience and flexibility of self-service to mid-size companies, including a plethora of reporting capabilities.

The timing seems perfect. Employees are increasingly comfortable taking responsibility for the maintenance of their health care and retirement benefits. Managers adopting the capabilities of self-service are realizing immediate value by realigning their human capital investments and by having on-demand access to the critical information needed for short and long term planning. Rarely has an emerging HR trend been so highly acclaimed by management and employees.

When evaluating the technology for your company, ask yourself how much time your HR department spends answering basic employee questions, such as pay stub and W-2 information and who is covered on health insurance policies. Then ask yourself how much better these employees’ time could be spent if focused on more productive tasks. Self-service makes it easy for organizations to integrate their payroll, human resources, and benefits’ data requirements into their corporate Intranet without having to implement costly Web-enabling software. Set up is quick and may include limitless interfaces to third party service providers.

Self-service makes it possible for managers to deliver payroll statement data and direct deposit information over the Web, customizable to the business’ security preferences. Depending on the self-service options you choose, corporate leadership and employees are also able, in real time, to track:

  • Personnel and dependent information.

  • New child tax adjustments, beneficiary changes due to marriage, divorce, relocation.

  • Current benefit enrollments, leave entitlements, 401(k) selections, with links to external benefit providers.

  • Corporate telephone lists, the employee handbook, overviews of company-offered benefits, and holiday schedules.
  • With all this in an affordable package, you might ask if there are any drawbacks to self-service portals. ‘

    It is true that some employees will always want personal attention where their benefits are concerned. Remember when everyone booked travel arrangements through agents and stood in long lines to register for college courses? Those days are long past for most of us, however, for the simple reason that they were not efficient uses of anyone’s time and talents. And today with the Internet, we all want immediate access to information and more control over our time.

    To create a comfortable climate for self-service, some employers provide incentives to workers for using the portal, such as lower prescription drug co-pays. Adding online wizards that take users through an entire process is another winning strategy. For sure, the easier the portal is to use, i.e. no more than two or three clicks for fulfillment, the more likely it will become an irreplaceable addition to your company’s HR services.

    Scott Secor is a veteran entrepreneur having built four companies over the last 19 years, three of which were in the rapidly growing HR Services arena. In addition to serving as president of Oryel, Secor also gives his time as an instructor for CED’s FastTrac Tech course — a 10-week business training program that addresses the needs of start-up entrepreneurs refining and writing their business plans and seeking to grow sustainable high-impact companies. Visit www.cednc.org/programs/capital_connection/fasttrac_tech/ for more information on FastTrac Tech.

    Oryel: www.oryel.com