Fusion HCM BenefiX Integration

In every organization that manages employee benefits in house, integrations to multiple benefits providers are a necessary business process.  There are several challenges in these processes.  For smaller organizations, the processes are more than likely manual.  Usually the Benefits Administrator enters the updates through an online session on the provider’s website.  Each provider would have their own site along with their own data entry methods.  This process is inherently slow and prone to data entry errors.  The paperwork for the updates must be tracked to ensure that the information was entered into the in house benefits system as well as the benefits provider’s website.  If the updates are not timely or are missed altogether, employees may not get the coverage when claims are submitted and have to go through the inconvenience of communicating with the Benefits Administrator to get the matter resolved and the claim processed.  These issues may result in:

  • A negative employee experience
  • Unproductive time spent resolving the issue

Midsize to large organizations frequently have an electronic interface that transfers eligibility updates to their benefit providers.  These electronic interfaces have their own challenges.   Each provider will have their own format or may utilize the 834 industry standard format for the data being transmitted.  The interfaces are typically custom code that is maintained by an internal IT function.  Anytime there are changes to the format or when new providers are engaged, it is up to the IT department to make the changes to the interfaces affected or develop an entirely new extract.  The benefits department then has to test these interfaces before the new or modified integration can be deployed to production.  This could be a significant effort on the in house staff depending on the complexity of the integration and the amount of testing required.

eVerge Group fit into the first category, making manual updates for all benefit eligibility changes directly with their vendors.  Some of the primary business reasons eVerge implemented HCM Fusion was to consolidate, automate and simplify business processes.  To that end, eVerge implemented Fusion Automated Benefits.  Delivered with Fusion Benefits is a standard benefits extract process that can be used to transfer benefit eligibility updates and changes to 3rd party benefits administrators/vendors.  The challenge with this extract process is that different benefit vendors (and there are a lot of them!) have different formats that do not match this delivered extract, therefore requiring a custom version to be created for each vendor.  eVerge’s solution to this problem was to engage an Oracle solutions partner called Benefits XML (BenefiX). BenefiX provides a service where the Fusion delivered benefits extract is transmitted to BenefiX. The data is then reformatted to each benefit vendor’s specifications and submitted to them on eVerge’s behalf. BenefiX has the responsibility for setting up and then maintaining distinct vendor interface formats. 

Setting Up the BenefiX Integration

eVerge was responsible for initial setup of a Structure Spreadsheet for each vendor’s specifications. These spreadsheets acted as requirements documents for how to map employer-specific information needed for each vendor’s interface file.  Initial mapping and setup included Tax Id, Policy Id, Group Policy name as well as other vendor specific information.   BenefiX then used this information to prepare the vendor specific files with the data from the Fusion Benefits extract.  

The file transfer protocol details were provided by BenefiX and were setup in the Manage Plan Carriers area in Fusion.   

 

Additional configurations were needed in the Plan Setup area.

 

Tip:  Oracle or BenefiX can provide a ‘How to Document’ with screenshots that are very helpful in completing the additional setup.  The document is “Configuring Benefits for Integration with 3rd Party Provider.doc”.

The Benefits Extract file is generated and transmitted securely (encrypted) to the BenefiX SFTP site. 

 

Benefits extract detail can be reviewed to verify the data being transmitted.  This page link retrieves up to 500 rows and is used to do a cursory review of the file information. 

 

Tip:  This link can be used to review the data and can be downloaded to an Excel Spreadsheet for more detailed review.  This is especially helpful when trouble shooting data issues.

The files are processed by BenefiX at which time audits are performed and a summary report is sent back to eVerge.  If any errors are identified in the file by BenefiX, for example a missing social security number for a covered dependent, they are addressed or corrected within Fusion and a new file is re-transmitted.

If the file has no errors, the data is reformatted by BenefiX into the appropriate benefit vendor format and then transmitted to each vendor.  A copy of the reformatted ‘vendor’ file is also sent back to eVerge to be used in trouble shooting any issues.  The vendors receive the reformatted file, process the information and send eVerge the results including any potential errors/exceptions that need to be corrected.

Lessons Learned

Here are some “Bumps in the Road” we encountered while implementing the Benefits extract integration.

  • Data issues in the Contact (Dependents) information where corrections were made by our users to the most current effective dated row only and the historical rows were not changed.  This caused a duplication of dependent info that was being extracted.

Lesson: Pay close attention to Historical rows when doing corrections

 

  • During test runs, data errors were encountered such as missing or mismatched SSNs between Fusion data and what the carriers had on file. This actually ended up being a good thing because it helped us get our data cleaned up before going live in production with the interface.

Lesson: Use the testing phase to help identify and clean up data issues.

 

  • Being such a new option on an early release of Fusion (Release 5), we did encounter some bugs that needed Oracle support to resolve.  Fortunately they were few and easily resolved.  There will probably be some more “challenges” until the processes have been through several more implementations.

Lesson: Be prepared to engage Oracle Support as well as your BenefiX liaison and/or Benefits Vendor representative when an issue comes up with the processing.

The cost for services provided by BenefiX were very reasonable in our estimation, once you factor in the amount of time spent manually maintaining benefits eligibility with multiple vendors for all of our employees and their families!  You will pay a one-time setup fee for each vendor and then a nominal monthly cost per employee for the services BenefiX provides.

The author of this article/blog is Zack Bakarich.  Zack is a Principal Fusion HCM Implementation Consultant resource for eVerge Group with more than 20 years of software packages implementation and support experience.

To learn more about Fusion and how we can help implement Fusion for your organization, please contact us at 888-548-1973.  Watch for upcoming blogs about our Fusion HCM Release 7 upgrade project, year-end payroll processing and more!

eVerge Fusion HCM Phased Deployment

eVerge Group is now live with the full suite of Fusion HCM products – HR, Benefits, Payroll, Workforce Compensation and Talent Management!   A multi-phased implementation approach was leveraged to ensure that the right internal ‘business’ resources were available to focus on specific module deployment efforts.

Open-Enrollment for benefits was deployed for use by our employees in March 2013 for the new plan year which started in April and we experienced a 98% usage rate!  This blog focuses on our recent success upgrading to Fusion HCM Release 5.

Having been on release 4 for over 8 months we were ready to address an upgrade of our application and technology stack to the latest available release point.  Around mid-March, our efforts focused on preparing for a release 5 upgrade.  Working with Oracle, the upgrade was scheduled for the first week of April to our staging (test) pod.  With Oracle’s advance notice, we leveraged that time to adequately prepare for the upgrade.  The upgrade to our staging pod was completed over a weekend and ready for us to start testing the following Monday morning.  We began our extensive end to end system testing, and, as a result, we identified several mission critical issues.  Oracle Support worked with us to ensure these high priority issues were resolved in a timely manner.  In addition, Oracle worked with us on the upgrade timeline to ensure we were comfortable with the new release before upgrading our production pod.  With the successful testing and the user community prepared for the new release, Oracle cloud support upgraded our Production pod the first weekend of June 2013.

 Highlights from the upgrade process: 

  • The upgrade process occurred first in our Staging environment to make sure there would be no surprises.  When we were ready to subsequently upgrade the Production environment, the upgrade was also completed over a weekend.  An additional test pod used for payroll parallel testing as part of our go live effort was refreshed from Production and upgraded the same weekend as production.
  • Our system testing included an entire payroll process flow in parallel with our production cycle.  The Quick Pay process  flow was also incorporated into that testing.
  • As part of the parallel pay cycle, we included our Workforce Compensation processes with a quarterly bonus payout and merit increases.  These transactions were processed and a supplemental payroll was generated as part of the parallel process.
  • Not only did we parallel our production pay cycle, but time was allocated to verify our current Vertex taxation rate updates were part of the upgrade.
  • We also validated all custom reports which had been developed and are used to verify payroll calculations and audit those processes.
  • The upgrade timeline afforded us the luxury of testing additional benefit life events as part of the upgrade.  While we did not need a full complement of events for initial go live, we knew there would be several event types needed over the next 4-6 months.  These life events were successfully tested and migrated to Production as part of our post upgrade deployment plan.

Issues encountered during upgrade testing: 

  • We were unable to recompile our payroll Fast Formulas.  As a result, we were not able to calculate a payroll.  We were able to determine the specific Fast Formula failed and is for calculating payroll for hourly employees.  We worked with Oracle to get this resolved in a timely manner and it did not affect our upgrade schedule.
  • We identified an issue when validating the Medicare Employee Surcharge.  The surcharge was not reducing net pay.  Oracle assisted us with updating the Medicare Surcharge element with an element feed that would reduce the employee’s net pay. 
  • An issue was uncovered with the ACH direct deposit file when validating our outbound interfaces.  The ACH File was not being created.  Oracle identified an issue with the technology stack team on caching when the report generated multiple outputs.  Oracle Support was able to back port a fix for release 5.
  • We uncovered an issue with the termination life event that existed in our upgraded and, at the time, release 4 Production pod.  Our test plan included steps to ensure existing benefit life events were still processing as expected.   We were able to track down the cause that impacted coverage end dates.  Oracle support quickly provided a patch, which we successfully tested in the upgraded Staging pod.  The next step was for Oracle to apply the patch to Production.

Lessons  learned while upgrading to release 5:

  • To ensure a successful upgrade, we approached this effort like any major HCM upgrade with proper planning, including  project, testing and change management plans.  We followed that with regular status meetings and task/issue tracking.  We also included other resources from the business to help make the initiative successful.
  • Do not assume that your upgraded pod is at the most current release level.  We found ourselves at the leading edge while on release 4, since we had implemented all Fusion modules.  Several issues we reported and later resolved for release 4 were not part of release 5.  Our thorough system testing identified these differences early and helped us stay on track.
  • Browsers and the different versions continue to work differently depending on what UI you are working with in Fusion HCM.  We found that for release 5 that IE v9 and Fire Fox provided us with the best results.  As part of your testing, be sure to use different browsers to isolate the issue and identify possible resolutions.
  • After you cutover to production, start your payroll processing for the upcoming pay cycle as early as possible.  This applies to any mission critical processing, not just payroll, and will allow you enough time to react to any unexpected issue arising after the upgrade. 

Next steps for eVerge Group: 

We are now preparing to take advantage of new functionality either available now or future releases that include:

  • Oracle Fusion Tap, that provides for the use of applications on the iPad
  • Workforce Lifecycle Manager
  • BenefiX integration to provide eligibility updates to our multiple benefit vendors and administrators
  • Total Compensation statements
  • Year End processing and W2 generation out of Fusion!

The author of this article/blog is Steve Stuart. Steve is a Senior Fusion HCM Implementation Consultant resource for eVerge Group with more than 16 years of Software Packages implementation and support experience. To learn more about Fusion and how we can help prepare for your upcoming upgrade efforts, please contact us at 888-548-1973. begin_of_the_skype_highlighting end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Fusion HCM – Talent Management implementation with eVerge

eVerge Group is now live with the full suite of Fusion HCM products – HR, Benefits, Payroll, Workforce Compensation and Talent Management.  Keep reading to follow the path we took to get there — focusing here on Talent Management.

In our current organization, there are two legal entities –operating in the US and India. We have multiple business units, departments, locations and jobs within a centralized HR function.

Fusion Talent Management went live in October of 2012.  Prior to Fusion, we were managing multiple systems to track employee goals, performance, skills and qualifications.  As a result, an excessive amount of time was spent maintaining and searching for talent-related information.  With Fusion HR fully implemented, we were ready to leverage the integration with Goal Management, Performance Management and Talent Profiles. 

Here are some of the lessons we learned while configuring Talent Management:

  • Be strategic in applying configuration changes and maintaining your test data and scenarios.  In some instances, once testing starts, configuration changes can’t be applied.  The testing will have to be rolled back and scenarios reapplied after the configuration changes.
  • Fusion Performance Management offers flexibility in template eligibility by configuring Eligibility Profiles.  With five different templates, we designed rules based on job function, so employees don’t have to make a selection.  However, during the testing phase, we discovered that the default template was not always correct.  We reported the bug and Oracle has since corrected the issue.
  • It is never too early to capture and standardize the talent profile content to track and monitor employee skills and accomplishments.  Content should be defined by the business owners and be near completion before the project starts.   Otherwise, you run the risk that it becomes a phase II project. 
  • Synchronize your goal planning with your performance review period.  This will facilitate integration to push goals to the performance review.
  • Working closely with Oracle on instance (Pod) management including data refresh, patching, upgrades, etc. is critical to a successful implementation. It is important to ensure that the latest code level and data is being tested.  Also, data refreshes means ensuring that the testing Pod was current to minimize dual entry for the Production Pod.

Below are configuration, business process and project decisions that played a part in our success in “standing up” Fusion Talent management:

  • We solicited help from others in the organization who were not part of the implementation team.  They provided feedback that was important to identify configuration considerations early in the project.  Their involvement provided familiarity with the new functionality and processes and their transition to Fusion Talent Management was seamless.
  • There were a mixture of anniversary and calendar-based performance reviews.  We took the opportunity from the onset to streamline the process and line-up review periods with our compensation plans.
  • The legacy performance system was designed to address performance and development goals.  With Fusion, we were able to configure goal management to separate these goal types.  As a result, only performance goals are pushed to employee reviews.
  • We took the time up front to review our Competencies and eliminate redundancy.
  • Goal management was designed to enable Target Outcomes.  When an employee completes a goal, the associated skill or accomplishment is pushed to their talent profile automatically.

Below is a snapshot of a performance review document from a manager’s perspective.  Much of the structure and content you see here is highly configurable to meet your specific business needs.

 

Watch for upcoming blogs about Payroll and our Open Enrollment go live. We are also live with HCM Core, Payroll, Benefits and Workforce Compensation … keep coming back to see more blogs over the next few weeks!

The author of this article/blog is Steve Stuart.  Steve is a Senior Fusion HCM Implementation Consultant resource for eVerge Group with more than 16 years of Software Packages implementation and support experience.

Oracle Fusion HCM: What You Need to Know

Oracle Fusion HCMFusing the best Human Capital Management application elements from Oracle’s existing lineup of ERP product suites, including PeopleSoft, E-Business Suite and JD Edwards.  But that’s merely part of the story.  We want to take a few minutes to tell you what the buzz is about and why eVerge Group is implementing Fusion HCM SaaS for our own use.

Fusion HCM

With over 20 years of experience implementing Human Capital Management (HCM) applications, we recognized early on the functional, strategic and cost-saving opportunities that Oracle’s Fusion HCM offers not only our organization but our clients as well.

Why all the positive reaction surrounding Fusion HCM?  Let’s summarize the answer into three points:

  • Architecture
  • User Interface/Functionality
  • Deployment Flexibility

Architecture:  Fusion HCM, and all of the Fusion applications—including CRM and Financials—, were developed from the ground up using standards-based Fusion middleware components.    These components and industry standard programming languages include Java, SOA (Service Oriented Architecture), BPM (Business Process Management), BI (Business Intelligence) and more.  Fusion HCM sits on top of these powerful middleware components and leverages all of the reporting, analytical, security and database functionality they offer.

Another important component of the Fusion design is the ability to ‘extend’ the user experience with your organization’s specific functional requirements.  Clients have the ability to create enhanced user interfaces, reports, dashboards, etc…without touching the delivered application objects.  This ability to ‘extend’ your Fusion application is achieved within the application and middleware components using functional-friendly tools.

User Interface/Functionality:  A few of the core objectives in developing Fusion applications and HCM were a focus on best-in-class business processes and enhanced user experience.  The roles-based approach to Fusion functionality truly engages employees, managers and HR professionals.  Embedded intelligence and analytics within the delivered Fusion HCM application provide need-to-know information for defined roles within an organization. A centralized ‘Person Management’ user interface gives HR professionals the ability to maintain employees’ personal, employment, compensation, payroll, absence information and more.  The overall user experience was designed around the way people truly work, which increases overall productivity.

Current Fusion offerings within the HCM pillar include:

  • Global Human Resources
  • Global Payroll
  • Benefits
  • Talent Management
  • Compensation Management
  • Performance Management
  • Network at Work (built in social collaboration)

Deployment Flexibility:  Fusion HCM can be installed on premise, or hosted by Oracle as a service (SaaS) in their cloud, in a private cloud or a hybrid approach to meet your organizations strategic objectives.  Fusion HCM is designed to ‘co-exist’ with existing Oracle Applications Unlimited products including PeopleSoft, E-Business Suite and JD Edwards.  For example, customers can take advantage of an existing PeopleSoft HCM install and leverage the Fusion Talent Management as a SaaS offering in the cloud.  Delivered integrations with Fusion HCM make these co-existence scenarios possible without lengthy development and implementation projects.

So why is eVerge Group investing in Fusion HCM internally to manage our resources and back-office processes?  The answer is easy:

  • Architecture
  • User Interface/Functionality
  • Deployment Flexibility
  • Reduced Cost of Ownership

We’ve just scratched the surface with Fusion HCM here.  To learn more about Fusion HCM and how we can help empower your organization with a true Workforce Lifecycle HR solution, please contact Bob Moser at 972-398-5914.