TuitionManager Automates Tuition Assistance Program and Improves Policy Governance for Tech Data
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Prior to implementing TuitionManager, Tech Data managed its tuition reimbursement program through an Access database. We spoke with Heather Brown, Senior Benefits Analyst, who described their process prior to implementing TuitionManager and the benefits they have experienced from their new automated TuitionManager process.
I would recommend TuitionManager to other organizations. It is a very easy system for administrators and for the employees.
Senior Benefits Analyst
Heather told us they managed their tuition reimbursement program manually prior to implementing TuitionManager. "We used an Access database that was very old and no longer supported by our IT group. The employees would go into the Access database and do their data entry. Then, when we required them to send in their grades and invoices, it was a manual process to email the documents to us, to print and keep for our records." The Access database was just a place to enter data, Tech Data was still using a paper-based process to obtain and review the documentation necessary to be approved for reimbursement.
Heather recalled the process that was in place for the Access database at the time. "Going into the system, making sure the data entry was correct, doing a pre-approval of the courses. We didn't have an approve or decline option in the Access database, so it was just for the data entry itself." This entire process was time-consuming. Heather estimated how long the manual process took for an application. "For an average course I would say it would take me to do the full process, review any documents that were sent in and any follow-up with the employee, reporting to payroll, it probably took fifteen minutes per course, over the entire time period."
Eventually, it was clear that Tech Data needed a new process to manage their tuition reimbursement program. "We knew the system was not going to be sustainable for much longer," explained Heather. "When we upgraded our equipment for the office, my new laptop did not support the Access database. I had a separate computer that I used to process the Access database and at the point when we realized that I was the only one that could still access the Access database, that's when we started looking for a new provider." Tech Data needed a system that would automate its process and was easy to use both for the administrator and employees.
Heather explained how Tech Data found TuitionManager. "My manager did the research and she found you. Once she saw the demo online, she reached out to determine the cost and implementation process." After researching vendors, Tech Data decided that TuitionManager was the best solution taking into account the functionality of the system and price.
Implementation was a simple process that went smoothly. Heather recalled the implementation process and said, "it was really straight-forward." She went on to explain the implementation process, "(HostedHR) got the background on what we were looking for, what we needed, and then once we had outlined all of the information that we wanted in the system and how it would work, then we had testing." The process itself only took a matter of weeks.
Testing and learning the functionality and capabilities of the system was simple with lots of support and guidance along the way. "The system is really easy to learn," Heather continued. "There are so many user guides that are loaded into the system that anytime I got stuck on something I could go back to the guides and determine what next step I needed to take." Heather found that even if she did come across a question while learning to use TuitionManager that she was able to locate the answer within the system itself through all of the comprehensive help articles and videos.
TuitionManager has provided exceptional benefits to Tech Data including improved policy governance, enhanced operational efficiency, improved metric visibility, time savings, and exceptional support.
Improved Policy Governance
TuitionManager enforces policy eligibility, limits, and deadlines automatically, helping tuition administrators to oversee and govern policy rules. Heather explained how TuitionManager was able to enforce Tech Data's policy automatically, whereas, before she was having to manage and enforce eligibility, limits, and deadlines. "It is nice to have all of the information in the correct place. The system works. The system automatically sends emails out to the employees. If they have done something incorrectly in the system, it blocks them. If they are outside of our timeline, something that previously was done manually by me, the system enforces the deadline. So, it's nice that those steps were taken out of our process, so it freed up some time with that." Heather is confident in the system's ability to administer Tech Data's policy rules, which allows her to spend less time trying to tediously calculate balances, send reminder emails, or inform employees that deadlines were not met.
Enhanced Operational Efficiency
Prior to implementing TuitionManager, Heather was having to field questions regarding their tuition assistance policy. However, with TuitionManager employees are able to learn and understand the policy through the system and with the assistance of the user guides available. "Our employees have much less questions when it comes to the system," Heather explained. "It's easy to walk through and it's just getting them to put the correct data entry in and upload the correct documents," she said.
Not only is the system easier for the employees to use, but it has also made the process a lot easier for Heather to manage and administer. "The system splits it out in the pre-approval and those that have the documentation and are ready for final approval. Since those are split out, that's actually very helpful because I can go in and do the pre-approvals very quickly just by reviewing the dates and the courses to verify the data entry is correct, compared to the documentation, I work those bi-weekly, we are on a bi-weekly payroll system so I can send them to the payroll department," said Heather. "It is just much easier that the system kind of walks you through what needs to be done for each case, each scenario." TuitionManager's intuitive design and layout mean that it's easy for tuition administrators to standardize their process and allocate specific time periods to tuition given the predictability of the process and the reliability of the system requiring complete and necessary information.
Another huge benefit for Heather is that the system calculates employee balances. "Prior to TuitionManager I was calculating employee remaining balances manually," recalled Heather. Not only is this time consuming, but doing it manually means there is always the chance for errors to occur. Many clients find that automating employee balance calculations is one of the biggest benefits of implementing TuitionManager from a manual process.
Improved Metric Visibility
With TuitionManager it is easy to run reports on any field within the system so that tuition administrators can report on requested information quickly and easily. Heather told us how she uses the reporting tool to assist her accounting department with budgeting. "I use standard reports to send to my accounting department for current courses, any courses that are getting closed to being aged out, anything that is sitting in prepayment, it just helps them budget what our courses will cost." Heather is able to take advantage of TuitionManager's reporting tool to constantly monitor and evaluate Tech Data's tuition assistance payments so that there is clear visibility of the program's costs.
The system also creates the biweekly payroll report so that payroll can make sure employees receive their tuition payments. Heather explained how TuitionManager provides the necessary information for Tech Data's payroll team in the format they requested. "I use our payroll report biweekly, it gives the breakdown between our pre-tax and post-tax that goes to payroll. That works wonderfully. It is in the format that our payroll requested it in." Tech Data was actually able to increase their tuition benefit for employees since TuitionManager was able provided the necessary information for nontaxable and taxable tuition payments. Prior to TuitionManager Heather described how "we did not have any post-tax in our plan. When we moved over to the TuitionManager system, we updated our plan document to include the post-tax for the graduate." Being able to easily update and increase the limit was a great benefit to Tech Data employees.
TuitionManager has saved Tech Data a significant amount of time by automating their process and eliminating their Access database and paper-process. Heather recalled how she would have to spend a significant amount of time clearing out last year's data and moving into a new year database. "When we were in the Access database, at year-end, we would have to clear out all of the prior year records that had aged out and move it into a new year database. So that process was very time consuming as well. So that's another great thing about TuitionManager, it does that for us."
Heather also said that prior to implementing TuitionManager sometimes she would have to spend an entire day dedicated to just tuition in order to manage their program. "During semester end it would take me almost a day to get the whole process completed," she recalled. Now that the approval process takes significantly less time and Heather does not have to calculate employee balances or put together the payroll report, she is able to get through the approval process quickly and confidently.
TuitionManager is an easy to use platform with lots of help articles and videos to assist with any questions. Heather said that "I haven't had that many issues. Very rarely do I need to reach out. Everything is working well." However, when she does need to reach out for assistance, she said that the support has been very responsive and helpful. "Support Is very quick to respond and get the system updated with what I need as well," she said.
Heather concluded by saying that she would recommend TuitionManager to other organizations. "I would. It is a very easy system for administrators and for the employees."