Happier trucking with new payroll system

Carrier makes move to HRIS system for improved reports and tracking
By Sarah Dobson
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/16/2008

A century-old “multi-dimensional transportation solutions provider,” Muir’s Cartage is the exclusive carrier for Home Depot, Future Shop and Best Buy, providing transportation across Canada, mostly in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

With a fleet of 100 trucks and a varied staff of 450 that includes drivers, dock workers, mechanics and office workers in Concord, Ont., and Montreal, the company has its share of challenges when it comes to payroll, especially since its employee count has expanded significantly.

“The company’s grown tremendously. A few years ago, quite a few employees were employees of employment agencies, so it was more of an outsourced employee population, and that all changed when (we) brought them in-house,” says Michael Filonienko, manager of HR at Muir’s Cartage. “So that created, obviously, a bigger challenge in payroll, which needed bigger tools.”

For at least six years, the company used PayFlex, a system focused on payroll needs from HR solutions provider Ceridian, but in 2007 Muir’s Cartage decided to upgrade to Ceridian’s Insync platform.

“PayFlex was just for payroll and a lot of the day-to-day functions were a lot more cumbersome, with more keying and data entry,” says Josie Martiniello, HR generalist at Muir’s Cartage. “Our payroll is mainly hourly and with Insync we cut down on a lot of the data entry.”

Insync also provided the means to integrate all of the company’s HR and payroll information.

“HR was their biggest pain,” says Josee Doucet, sales representative at Ceridian in Toronto. “They wanted everything in one system.”

At first Ceridian presented some applications that were Internet-based, with the pay stub e-mailed to employees, but looking at Muir’s Cartage population and the trucking industry in general, it wasn’t a good option for employees, says Martiniello.

“Not everyone has a computer at their desk because they’re on the road and they may not have Internet access at home either,” she says.

While office employees are salaried, dock workers and truck drivers are hourly and they manually submit time sheets or run sheets every day or every other day.

“We’ve got certain segments of the employee population not processed through Ceridian and that’s another perk of Insync because it’s able to put employees on the human resource information system (HRIS) even though their pay is not processed through Ceridian,” says Filonienko. “So we get all the employees in one place, with all their data, including compensation and training, and we’re able to put out reports based on that data.”

The HRIS side allows the company to track a lot of HR information all in one place, such as emergency contacts, dependants, RRSP contributions, workplace injuries, training and certification.

“The nature of our industry is such that we have certifications and required training that needs to be renewed, it’s mandated legally to be updated every year, so this helps us track when it’s coming due,” says Filonienko.

The HRIS component is also helpful because the trucking company recently implemented a new compensation plan with job evaluations, pay grades and points. Previously, Muir’s Cartage relied on spreadsheets that required a lot of double entry and duplication, so Insync was a cost-effective way to maintain that data, says Filonienko.

“In essence, that is the engine that drives our salary administration at this point,” he says.

And there are plenty of reports that can be created, for any field that’s populated, says Martiniello, rather than many canned reports.

The implementation process started in September 2007 when Muir’s Cartage had a series of meetings with Ceridian. Much of the discussion concerned the 10 to 15 pay codes, which would have to change and be set up correctly according to company rules and legislation.

The codes also cover vacation, garnishments, a new attendance-reward program, overtime, which varies for different groups of employees, and expenses, such as a tool allowance for mechanics. With the new platform, HR was also able to synchronize payroll codes with the appropriate general ledger codes in accounting.

“This allowed for an electronic file that we were able to send to accounting. This was compatible with the accounting system and therefore eliminated the need for double entry,” says Martiniello.

After that, Muir’s Cartage did a series of tests to ensure the codes were working correctly and a few parallel runs in November to make sure people were being paid correctly. It did a live run in December with the support of Ceridian’s implementation co-ordinator.

“Overall, the process was quite seamless,” says Martiniello. “The majority of the drivers and dock workers didn’t even realize anything had changed. There are a lot of places you can do checks and balances and reports you can run before you physically submit the payroll that will alarm you if something is not working.”

While straightforward, an employer has a lot to learn moving from one system to the other, says Doucet, as each works differently when it comes to coding, overrides and reports. Ceridian offers two days of training on the payroll side and two days for the HR side, but Martiniello says she has only done the first part, because Insync is fairly intuitive.

“The system is very user-friendly and if you’re familiar with Word and Excel, you won’t have a problem with Insync. There are a lot of icons so you’re able to click in,” she says. “They gave us a package with steps to take in the first live run. It was very easy to follow.”

As for costs, the change per pay is very small and, looking at the value added, justified in terms of the different reports the company is able to create and the different tracking it can now do, says Martiniello.

Sarah Dobson is editor of Canadian Payroll Reporter, a sister publication to Canadian HR Reporter. She can be reached at (416) 298-5141 ext. 2680, sarah.dobson@thomsonreuters.com or visit www.hrreporter.com/cpr for more information.

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