Using Reports to Support Process Change

Incorporating Reports Helps to Ease Transitions in New Business Processes

We all strive to change and, ultimately, improve our business processes.  This can mean automating tasks, offering new tools to users, or even introducing new processes. As these changes are implemented you can use reports to support the transition and new process.

Supporting Automation
Nelnet automated most of our new hire process last year. Now most of our new hires flow through directly from our recruiting system into Vista via a nightly integration. Because we’re not keying in the information anymore, we needed to:

  • Identify who is a new hire for a given pay period and ensure entry by their start date
  • Account for missing, incomplete, or incorrect employee-provided information
  • Generate a new hire summary to validate information on the first payroll

We also wanted to highlight when default values are used to complete information and provide a checklist to ensure consistent processing.
Our answer was a two page New Hire report. We enter a start date range and the report will return the employees processed for that time period. If a new hire is expected in the date range but not on the report, we know that they haven’t processed through the integration yet.

The first page shows the new hire data. We use this for a few additional entry items and payroll validation. The second pageprovides information on whether any default values were used or if data validation failed.

We’ve also included the new process checklists on the second page. The checklists guide the payroll specialists through the additional entry items, through checking the new hire information before the first payroll, and through the final review of the employee’s first payroll.

Supporting New Tools
Nelnet also introduced the Current Benefits Enrollment Wizard in Vista as a tool for our new hires last year. In this case, we needed a report to address the following requirements:

  • Ensure consistent review of the election information
  • Generate enrollment documentation to be scanned to the employee record for auditing purposes
  • Generate election summary to validate deductions on the first payroll after plan activation

Some “nice to have’s” were alerts for items not regulated by the plan setup or wizard configuration, like identifying employees electing more than the guaranteed amount for supplemental life insurance.

We addressed these requirements by building an election report and using the Vista “Current Benefit Elections Statement.” When our benefits administrators receive notice that an election is ready for review, they run the election report. You can click here to open an example of the full report.

Supporting New Processes
Nelnet recently added a “Deferred Start” HR status. We often need to push back an employee’s start date. For example, we may initially have them scheduled for January 30th, but need to move their start date to February 13th. We used to terminate and rehire these employees, but that created extra processing for several departments. Now we put them in the Deferred Start status instead. Employees cannot be in Deferred Start status for more than 30 days, though.

Nelnet uses an audit report to identify employees who reach 30 days in this status. The report is scheduled in Vista ES and is delivered via email to the payroll specialists. The payroll specialists review the report and terminate or update the employee as needed. The Deferred Start Audit Report closes a gap in the new process where employees could remain active indefinitely if they don’t actually start on the revised start date.

And don’t forget that reports can be for people other than your Vista administrators! Nelnet uses reports to educate our employees on new processes, too.

Last year Nelnet introduced a new option to have a DOL taxable fringe paid as cash on the employee’s check, in addition to the existing option of having it deposited in the employee’s 401K plan. To comply with Department of Labor regulations, the cost paid by Nelnet for qualified benefit plans in which our employees participate must equal at least $4.02 per hour. Every associate’s calculation varies based upon benefit plan elections, pay rate, length of service, and regular hours worked. When Nelnet’s cost for an employee’s participating benefits doesn’t equal at least $4.02 per hour, Nelnet pays the difference as a taxable fringe.

To help employees understand their rate calculation, we created the Individual ED Fringe Calculation report. This report is a Vista Self-Service web page option which runs based on the logged in user. That way each employee can view their individual report.

How Can Reports Support Your Process?

If you have a business process you think could use a report, consider the 5 W’s.

  1. Why do you need the report?
    Consider your objective for the report. Do you need to initiate day-to-day processing? Are you trying to close gaps in a process? Will you need to audit a process’s completion? Is there something from the process you need to communicate or provide education about?
  2. When will the report be used?
    A report can be used at different points in a business process. Does it belong at the beginning where can provide information needed to complete the process? Is it a report to evaluate the results of the process, which works better at the end? Will the report communicate information mid-way through the process?
  3. Who will use the report?
    Remember your audience. A report for administrators may be more complex; it could include parameters, be run for varying date ranges, or provide action items. However, a report for self-service users usually needs to be as simple as possible.
  4. Where will the report be accessed or delivered?
    You have many options for how a report is accessed. Does it make the most sense to schedule the report through Vista ES and deliver it via email? Do you need a user’s security to be considered when running the report? Then in may be best to run it from Vista Reports. Maybe you want to access the report within Crystal Reports so you can adjust filters. Or it may work best to provide the report as a Vista Self Service web page or web page option.
  5. What information is included in the report?
    Now you can get to the details! Think about what information you need on the report. This could be information from Vista, another database, or it could be action items like checklists. Consider if you need just a “data dump” or if additional formatting would better convey the information. Will the report interpret the data for you using charts or summaries? Build out the report to meet the needs of the process.

Reports can be an integral tool in process changes. By incorporating reports you can ease the transition and bridge the gaps in a new business process.

Gretchen Schmidt
Payroll and Benefits Analyst
Nelnet, Inc.
Gretchen.Schmidt@nelnet.net