New hires within state offices in Pennsylvania must complete an orientation process, which includes reading through and acknowledging workplace policies, enrolling in medical benefits and completing other work-related tasks typically overseen by human resources. To streamline processes and move away from paper forms, Pennsylvania deployed online onboarding software last year, simplifying the orientation process and cutting costs.

According to Kelly Powell Logan, Pennsylvania’s secretary of administration, the state moved away from a decentralized system to a multi-tiered system developed by Infor. Using the software, new hires can complete the orientation process online without direct supervision from HR personnel.

Logan said the software helped Pennsylvania agencies “have a consistent approach with our employees, making sure that they start day one with all of the information they need to really hit the ground running, and at the same time save money and reduce the number of errors.”

Each month, roughly 600 employees are hired by the state, both for full-time and seasonal positions. Regardless of the type of position for which they are being hired, all new employees must complete the orientation process.

Upon the initial launch of the software, Pennsylvania had every new employee use the new system, rather than using a phased rollout approach. According to Logan, Pennsylvania expects to reduce printing costs by $40,000 annually by using the software instead of the previous paper-intensive process.

The upgrade also significantly reduces the amount of time HR staff spends on the new hire orientation process, expected to save $660,000 annually. Productivity gains and other savings are estimated to bring Pennsylvania nearly $1 million annually in total cost savings, Logan said.

According to Infor, in addition to accessing employee policy information and applying for medical benefits, the onboarding system allows users to create employee email accounts and badges, and utilize E-Verify – the federal system used to confirm employment eligibility.

Amy Ihlen, Infor’s industry strategy director for human capital management, said users can access the Infor system much like an online chat, so if the new employee has a question, the system can support it with an answer. If the employee still doesn’t get the answer he or she is looking for, the system can be searched for additional content in order to present the right response.

“It’s about streamlining processes,” Ihlen said. “But more importantly, it’s about structuring your organization so that you can have the higher-skilled HR professionals focus on more strategic initiatives.”

Logan said that prior to deploying the new software, new employees spent nearly three hours with an HR representative to work through the onboarding process. New hires now have the flexibility to go through the online orientation at their own pace.

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Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.