People-Trak Reviewed in
Credit Union Technology
Opposites Do Attract – We successfully
united human resources with technology
By Billie C. Marney
Vice President of Human Resources
Chocolate Bayou FCU
Increasing demand placed on human resources (HR)
by coworkers, internal organizations, external organizations,
– and sometimes I even think extraterrestrials – are making manual
systems of HR management completely inadequate.
We were losing valuable time fulfilling all the
requests we were getting from management, employees, vendors,
Uncle Sam, and others for employee information. And to increase
the frustration, the requests usually contained several constants,
such as name, social security number, date of birth, date of
hire, etc., with an additional four to six variables, each in
a different format.
Employees and supervisors wanted regular vacation
and sick leave reports. Department managers needed routine information
such as performance review schedules, salary histories, and probation
reports. Senior management wanted to know which managers conducted
their performance reviews on time and how to maintain external
and internal equity in pay. Vendors – including our benefits
coordinator, payroll service, and retirement plan administrator
– needed a census each year. And since these vendors report to
Uncle Sam, accuracy and timeliness is critical.
Of course, this constant demand for information
does not void the need to recruit, hire and train, counsel, oversee
benefits, meet other daily challenges, and set and attain goals.
It was time to apply our proactive philosophy to
the HR function. And in doing so, we became one of the first
among mid-sized credit unions in the Houston area to purchase
a Human Resource Information System (HRIS). People-Trak LT, a
powerful software designed especially for the needs of small
organizations, provided the answer for us. People-Trak piqued
our interest during a demonstration of the LT version of its
software, so we requested a demo disk. Having never actually
worked on an HRIS, I immediately called my personal HR guru and
long-time friend who has worked in the HR field over 20 years
and is currently employed with an organization of more than 2,000
After carefully scrutinizing and manipulating the
demo database built into the software, her final comment was,
"This is a tremendous program considering the cost. It compares
well with the finest available used by large corporations."
So we purchased the software in July, 1997 for $500, a one-year
maintenance agreement for $295 (which included all updates and
unlimited technical support) and a two-day on-site training session
for $1000 plus expenses.
At the time I thought I could become proficient
on my own with the assistance of a manual. Having tutored in
a college computer lab, I’m not exactly a novice to software.
About three weeks later, however, I knew I would not have the
time needed to achieve the level of proficiency I desired within
So I set up a training session with People-Trak’s
Judy Brannen in September. Judy was patient and thorough, but
it was two of the most intense and challenging days I have ever
spent in training. Upon completion, I was absolutely thrilled
with the potential of this product and expected to have all the
personnel records completely loaded in the system and be up and
running by January 1998. Wrong again!
First, our physical records proved to be incomplete.
The software have eleven screens in each record, from personal
data to job and salary history to attendance, training and education
Second, an usual period of higher than-average
turnover placed extraordinary demands in recruiting, hiring,
and training. This meant I was able to work on entering data
very infrequently, and all the while forgetting many of the details
covered in training.
Third, coupled with the turnover was a lack of
consistency in maintaining the already incomplete personnel files.
My target date of full utilization of this system was postponed.
Fortunately, our president and board were well aware of the issues
I faced in the HR arena and were understanding and supportive.
At this point you are probably wondering, "Is
it worth all the hassle?" Absolutely! The ability to generate
reports in minutes is exciting, and I’m amazed at the amount
of time it saves and the positive impact it has on decision-making.
Although I am far from using People-Trak LT fully, the benefits
are wonderful to behold. I can easily track both individual and
organization-wide job and salary histories, benefit participation
and costs, attendance histories with available vacation and sick
leave, training histories, performance reviews, and other data
useful for controlling, reporting, and decision making. The program
has more than a hundred reports built into the system, including
Benefits, Attendance, Performance Reviews, Compensation, and
Skills – all of which can be customized easily to meet individual
These reports take seconds to complete. The software
has the capability of creating an unlimited number of uniquely
designed reports, incorporates mail-merge features, and has import/export
features compatible with word processors and spreadsheets.
It is incredibly exciting to have our CEO make
a request for specific data and be able to generate it while
he waits in my office. And it becomes invaluable when needing
support for a request or suggestion. On one occasion, I could
see the need for increasing an employee’s salary. By creating
and presenting reports including job history, performance review
ratings, salary grades, and current salary with range penetration
on both the individual employee and the department, I was able
to sufficiently document my request and influence the decision-
which, by the way, was favorable. Facts are difficult to ignore,
and People-Trak provides the ability to quickly retrieve relevant
facts without having to physically review all the irrelevant
In spite of the benefits, implementation could
have been much easier. I would advise anyone contemplating the
purchase of an HRIS to realize the importance of having (1) the
physical personnel files complete and in good order, and (2)
a realistic estimate of the time needed to build the tables and
enter the data.
Although Judy stressed during training the need
to build the tables prior to entering data in the individual
records, I underestimated the time required to complete this
process. Some table can be created easily in minutes, other take
hours. Anxious to see results, I did not complete all the critical
tables as instructed and ultimately had to re-enter data.
Additionally, I would recommend follow-up training,
which could reduce the need for technical support. I question
whether the unlimited support was exactly what People-Trak had
in mind when I was on the phone with Susanna at Technical Support
for an hour or more at a time on numerous occasions. In order
to customize the accrual table, she requested that I send a copy
of vacation and sick leave policies so she could help design
it to match our policy. Fortunately, she continues to exhibit
both patience and thoroughness with my calls, a rare and valued
trait in a vendor.
Finally, I am very pleased that we have implemented
the program. I believe it will be virtually impossible to grow
and remain competitive without this technology. I’m aware now
that it is far less time-consuming to build a database when you
have a few employees with a short work history than when you
have a large number of employees with long work histories.
I encourage every credit union to include an HRIS
when planning its technology needs to meet growth goals. Just
as the HR manager has become an equal partner in senior management,
the technological needs of the HR department are equal in importance
to those of every other department.
Billie Marney is the Vice President
of Chocolate Bayou FCU in Alvin, Texas.
Reprinted from Credit Union Technology, March/April 1999.