In 2015, a California county retirement association embarked on a multi-year project to procure and implement new technologies that would modernize processes, empower members, and improve customer service. They chose Linea Solutions to consult on the project in part because of our experience in providing services to multiple California county retirement systems governed by the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937 and the California Public Employees’ Pension Reform Act. Being subject to these often complicated and convoluted retirement laws, the fund was concerned that not all PAS or project oversight vendors in the market could meet their organizational needs. They looked to Linea to improve their chances at a completed and successful project.
We implemented new technologies for modern processes, better customer service, and member empowerment.
The project began with an operational assessment of our client’s pension administration system (PAS) and operations processes, during which Linea found an organization strangled by aging and unsupported technology that forced the use of various manual workarounds and paper forms. Although they were a mature organization with well-established work processes and no work backlogs, the client was working with paper files stored in long rows of large filing cabinets and a pension system with poorly integrated “modules” that was no longer being actively supported by the vendor. The legacy system, customized specifically for the client, was serving as little more than a data storage center, with most work being done manually outside of the system.
Throughout 2016, Linea helped our client fully document their business rules and translate them into a comprehensive set of system requirements that would address their need for flexibility and automation in a new PAS. Linea then worked with the client to develop an RFP for the new PAS and orchestrated the vendor selection process from RFP release through contract negotiations. Care was taken to offer vendors ample opportunity to understand the complex system requirements and needs of the client's staff through interviews, site-visits, and product demonstrations. Our client was particularly concerned with engaging a system vendor that understood their needs and had previous experience configuring their product to the complexities of the 1937 Act and the multiple benefit tiers they administer. Ultimately, the winning vendor was one that had this experience and offered a vendor-hosted, completely integrated imaging and PAS solution.
Thanks to careful planning, extensive client involvement, and meticulous preparation led by Linea, only minimal adjustments have been needed to the imaging product or the filing system in its nearly 3 years of use to date.
The implementation project was launched in early 2017. Within 9 months, our client made perhaps the largest change the organization had seen since the introduction of computers to their operations: they eliminated their paper member files. With extensive guidance from Linea’s on-site resources, our client was able to organize and define a complete electronic file structure within the scope of their vendor’s proprietary imaging system. A document imaging vendor converted nearly all of our client's paper member files to a searchable pdf format for electronic storage. In September 2017, the PAS vendor implemented the stand-alone imaging system, and all paper files were moved off-site. Thanks to careful planning, extensive client involvement, and meticulous preparation led by Linea, only minimal adjustments have been needed to the imaging product or the filing system in its nearly 3 years of use to date.
Development of the PAS solution began in parallel with the imaging system and is now nearing completion. With a single, on-site resource backed by Linea’s collective knowledge and experience, Linea has facilitated nearly every aspect of the implementation as a liaison between client and vendor, a trusted advisor to the project team, and a coordinator of the many moving pieces in this project. Linea’s hands-on approach to oversight activities provided our client with project management support, project recordkeeping and tracking, testing coordination and execution, facilitation of design and process decision-making, meeting scheduling, meeting documentation, requirements confirmation, staff training, employer engagement, management consultation, and to-be process development. The fund welcomed Linea as an integral part of its organization and a binding agent that connected the entire staff to the project. For the PAS vendor, Linea has served as an extension of the project team by facilitating communication and providing on-site support to the client during design, testing, and deployment.
Our client's previous PAS implementation more than a decade ago had been a drawn-out project that they felt was never truly finished by the vendor, an outcome that Linea has ensured would not be repeated. In September 2020, our client's PAS vendor made a successful production deployment of the new PAS. Additional deployments of deferred functionality including some processes, workflows, various enhancements, and an integrated member self-service portal will be made throughout 2021. With a hosted solution, the client's ongoing relationship with the PAS vendor will allow for product support, ongoing improvement, and adaptation to changes in California’s retirement law. Most importantly, our client has embarked on a new period in their history with a modern PAS that will support growth and member needs will into the future.