North Carolina Modernizes HR and Payroll Systems with Online Solution

New system lets state's 86,000 employees manage their own HR and payroll information online.

by / May 21, 2008

North Carolina implemented a new human resources and payroll applications system that employees can access anytime over the Internet.

This deployment, called the Building Enterprise Access for North Carolina's Core Operation Needs (BEACON) system, replaced custom-built, decades-old legacy applications.

The system allows nearly 86,000 workers to view and print paycheck details and change personal data, including home addresses, phone numbers and emergency contact information, online. But they can also do more.

"They can change their deductions; they can change their benefit package; they can go online at any time and view their time, view their accumulated leave," said Robert Powell, state controller of North Carolina. "And they have ownership now of their [human resources] activity, whereas before there always had to be a human contact for those kinds of activities to occur."

BEACON, which was built by systems integrator BearingPoint using SAP NetWeaver technology, assigns random employee identification numbers to data, eliminating the need to use Social Security numbers and enhancing security. Powell said the BEACON system also eliminates process duplication. In the past, personnel entered the same information into separate human resources and payroll systems, but now with an integrated system, the information is only entered once.

BearingPoint competed with other vendors, including Accenture and Deloitte, before being awarded the state's two-year $28 million contract in September 2006. BEACON's first phase went live in January 2008, and the second phase went live in April 2008.

According to Powell, North Carolina's contract with BearingPoint expires in June, but state IT personnel are already trained well enough to manage BEACON once this happens.

"One of our goals in implementing this HR-payroll phase was that we would be owning the system once it became operational," he said. "So we had put into place a knowledge-transfer activity that included assigning state employees side by side with the BearingPoint employees as we went through this development process."

North Carolina plans to incorporate financial functions into BEACON for accounting, budgeting, cash and grant management and other tasks, but the state will have to issue a new RFP before this can happen. Powell is unsure when the RFP will be created, but it will be possible for BearingPoint to submit a project proposal. Even after the financial functions are completed, it's possible BEACON could encompass more tasks.

"As we move into financials, we're looking to the future of our back-office systems," Powell said. "And part of that is the development and building of the system, and then it's the operational component."

He estimates it could take five or six years for North Carolina to fully realize the technology efficiencies and savings that are possible in back-office systems with BEACON.


Hilton Collins

Hilton Collins is a former staff writer for Government Technology and Emergency Management magazines.

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