ANKENY, Iowa -- Perishable Distributors of Iowa here, a division of Hy-Vee, is implementing a system this year that will give its employees online access to, and the ability to make changes in, their personnel records.
The system is part of a larger human resource/payroll application, from Cort Directions, Bend, Ore., that PDI installed in 2000, according to Leigh Walters, director of human resources for PDI, which supplies perishable products from a distribution center here primarily to stores operated by Hy-Vee, based in West Des Moines, Iowa.
The self-service module will allow PDI's 500 employees to use a PC in the breakroom to make basic changes, such as in the number of dependents claimed for tax purposes or home address. Walters said other types of access are being considered, but that access to payroll information will be excluded. The system will be tested in the first quarter, and implemented later this year.
Walters said the self-service system will be especially valuable to employees who work nights or weekends, and need to contact HR staff about record changes. "It's more user-friendly," she told SN last week. PDI operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Walters described the reasons PDI installed the overall Cort system and the benefits of the system at Food Marketing Institute's Productivity Show last fall. She said one of the main considerations in purchasing the PC-based Cort system (for about $100,000) was that it enabled PDI to integrate HR and payroll on a single database.
Previously, PDI's homegrown payroll application ran on the company's AS/400 system with its general ledger program, separate from the former PC-based HR application. HR processes had to be duplicated to be transferred into payroll, whereas now they transfer automatically -- a considerable labor savings.
Under the former scenario, HR was "always contacting IT" for assistance, making programmers "privy to confidential information," said Walters. The upgraded system offers greater privacy for that information, she said.
The Cort system also gives PDI unlimited options for payroll deductions, whereas those options were limited on the prior system.
Walters said PDI asked Cort to write interfaces between its system and PDI's Kronos timecard system and its employee incentives system, as well as to the general ledger.
The HR application is used for such tasks as maintaining employee history, tracking job applications, tracking attendance and vacation accruals, and providing notice prior to government-mandated physicals. The system has many levels of security access. "Few people have 100% access," she said.
She said the Cort system has worked well overall, though the security options are "not user-friendly," and PDI was not able to execute cost-of-living increases.
Walters suggested that HR/payroll systems are best installed at the beginning of the calendar year. In PDI's case, the installation took place in April, causing the company to operate both old and new systems the first year. She also suggested having "a payroll/HR expert involved in the implementation," and urged not to cut costs in training. "We had Cort people on site for training for two weeks. It was expensive, but I'm glad we did it."