by RemoteNet Corporation
1. Executive Summary
purpose of this case study is to provide a review of the solutions provided by
RemoteNet Corporation to the client in support of the client’s stated vision
and objectives in regards to the delivery and administration of employee
benefits via a corporate benefits and administration services department.
featured client in this study is the corporate benefits administration and
services department for a $15 billion global aerospace and defense company
that provides high technology and innovative products, services and solutions
to U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers. The
company has 80,000 employees and operations in 44 states and 25 countries.
client delivers benefits services to as many as 200,000 people, including
active employees, retirees, deferred vested employees and dependents. Each
year, the client pays claims and/or premiums and service fees approaching $500
million for the health plans it manages. The client currently maintains about
$18 billion in trust assets, including employee pension and savings plans.
client maintains a staff of over 60 internal personnel. Outsourced supplier
personnel bring the actual staff total to over 200 FTEs.
a proponent of a strong IT infrastructure, the client maintains a computer
network separate from the main company network. Currently, over 25 servers are
in operation on the network, some of these in redundant roles.
client believes that in order to deliver the highest quality, lowest cost,
integrated benefits services to its customers, it must implement self-service
delivery systems using leading-edge information technologies.
faces a number of systems and integration issues, which are largely the result
of a diverse operational environment, outsourcing of services to multiple
suppliers, and ongoing mergers, acquisitions and growth initiatives in the
client maintains a computer network separate from the main company network.
Currently, over 25 servers are in operation on the network, some of these in
client’s internal applications and systems are also varied. Dissimilar
systems include PeopleSoft, SAP and Lawson; homegrown host applications on
mainframes; and Access databases and Excel spreadsheets. Platforms include
Oracle databases, Lotus Notes systems and SQL 7 and SQL 2000 databases.
client has variable controls over its own data; consequently, there are
inherent issues in providing real access to that data. Relationships need to
be cultivated with internal departments as well as suppliers to gain
additional access. There are fiduciary concerns in regards to giving the
client access to the data directly versus outsourcing management of the data
within the environment and allowing the client to have read-only views.
client currently leverages a Document Management System (DMS) to import all
documents for archival purposes. Suppliers have recently begun replicating
data to the DMS system on a regular basis.
DMS will serve as an alternative source for all images. It is the client’s
intention to have a redundant system, as opposed to relying on production
data, in order to achieve a single repository for all information. This
repository will also provide quick access and total reliability. The DMS will
provide both historical database storage as well as a beneficiary database.
client’s goal is to be able to allow a participant, employee or supplier the
ability to perform a query on the data using minimum criteria over a large
number of data warehouses. A participant potentially would have the
capability to enter a social security number into a web-based portal and then
query all external and internal systems for relevant records.
data access between the client and its suppliers has taken place via frame
administration of the client’s company benefits is outsourced to a number of
suppliers. Benefits Administration Provider “A”, an industry leader in the
benefit administration business, is the principal outsourcing partner.
Benefits Administration Provider “A” provides the client with outsourcing
services for all defined benefit and health and welfare benefit plans. In
addition, they provide both human resources and organizational consulting
are a variety of best-in-class systems that Benefits Administration Provider
“A” uses to administer the benefit plans. Benefits Administration Provider
“A” uses an NT Server-based system application to produce pension
statements, calculations and estimates.
an additional module, Benefits Administration Provider “A” uses the
latest available technology to ensure accurate record keeping of health plan
benefit selections, plan updates and changes, life events and enrollments.
This application is Unix-based and runs on a Sun platform.
client works closely with Benefits Administration Provider “A” and the
selected health plan insurance providers to see that all problems are resolved
as quickly as possible. In regards to participant service issues, Benefits
Administration Provider “A” uses a Lotus Notes-based system to track and
resolve all outstanding benefit-related issues that arise. This interactive
system acts as the focal point of the employee benefits issue resolution
is the expectation that a large number of these systems will be web based in
when a participant calls the client for customer service, they are calling to
Benefits Administration Provider “A”, which is transparent to the end
user. Benefits Administration Provider “A” opens a call and administrates
the overall resolution process, then replicates current information to the
client on a regular basis.
client user community accesses a large majority of the Benefits Administration
Provider “A” programs via Citrix for viewing of participant information.
This type of access prevents manipulation of the data to the back end systems
by allowing view-only access.
user community also leverages Lotus Notes for communication with the Benefits
Administration Provider “A” case management module. This allows access of
up-to-date information by the client and also acts as a middleware between the
client’s accounts payable system and the general ledger system at the Bank
defense and aerospace industry has undergone significant numbers of mergers,
acquisitions, and consolidations in recent years. The benefits departments
within this industry are significantly impacted by these corporate
initiatives, in that they must absorb and integrate new systems and databases
and administer additional benefits plans for the affected employees.
client has participated in a series of acquisitions over the past four years.
It is likely to see additional acquisitions in future as part of corporate
client’s stated vision is to “provide integrated, top quality, cost
effective, client-focused benefits delivery to all company elements and to
employees, retirees, and terminated vested program participants using
appropriate leading edge information technologies.”
To assist the
client in making this vision a reality, RemoteNet worked with the client to
identify the following objectives:
Improve client - supplier data communications
Track client and supplier projects and costs
Provide management reporting
Provide integrated, client-focused benefits delivery system
Ensure system and process availability
Integrate benefits applications and data source
of 1998 the client contracted with RemoteNet to perform a study on the
practicality, security and realized throughput of providing a virtual private
network from the client’s network to suppliers. RemoteNet’s services to the client have since been extended to
provide multiple solutions to meet the stated initiatives. The objective and goal of each solution, together with the actions
taken to implement it, are described below.
Private Networks (VPNs)
Improve functionality of and access to distributed supplier
Replace leased data lines.
proposed to engage two of the client’s major suppliers for the installation
of a VPN between the client and the supplier. The project took a two-step
approach: first, install a VPN from Benefits Administration Provider “B”
to the client and, second, upon successful testing of functionality, repeat
the process with Benefits Administration Provider “A”.
Figure 4.A: Client - Supplier VPN
The project plan was to install VPN technology that would allow leased lines
through a public switched network to appear as a private WAN link between the
client and suppliers’ offices.
recommendation of the installation of VPNs was due to research indicating that
LANs in different sites without use of a PSTN or leased line
the ability to transfer secured data to suppliers as if they were part of
the client’s LAN
secure access to corporate resources for customers, clients and
traditional dialup connections for remote users and telecommuters
telecom costs by using the Internet to carry traffic and reducing the
number of access lines required
operational costs by outsourcing remote access management to a service
standard communication protocol regardless of platform (Unix, Windows,
Mac) enabling true distributed computing
began with a statement of work, which was delivered and discussed with the
suppliers to coordinate and plan the upcoming steps. Initially, the supplier
IT teams were not enthusiastic about the plan for a collaboration of services
and data via a VPN.
concerns prompted the client and RemoteNet to form a task force with the
suppliers in order to further examine and test the VPN concept. Tests were
performed to gauge VPN integrity, security, stability, and bandwidth
availability. The task force determined that the VPN solution appeared to be
as secure, if not more so, than the configuration of the existing LAN with a
frame relay to the Internet. Furthermore, the group discovered that by
utilizing the public network, monthly connectivity costs would be reduced as
much as 50%.
The VPNs were
successfully installed in February 1999. The success of these initial
installations has led to the client adopting VPNs as the preferred method of
connectivity between internal operations and suppliers.
Executive Project Tracking
client and supplier projects and costs.
operate and maintain a project tracking and reporting system.
the start of its engagement with the client, RemoteNet discovered that one of
the client’s chief challenges lay in tracking the progress of and costs
associated with supplier-managed projects. The client expressed a need for a
high-level project review capability.
responded in 1999 with the creation of the web-based Executive Project
Tracking system. This custom application allows both the client and its
suppliers to enter and track projects, associated costs, milestones and
activities while also linking the project to the original contract and/or
statement of work.
Executive Project Tracking System answered the client’s need for a method of
monitoring the work of suppliers and adherence to their contractual
agreements. Off-the-shelf applications, such as Microsoft Project, could not
meet the client’s needs due to their project-centric nature. The Executive
Project Tracking System is unique in that, while it provides project detail,
it is not focused exclusively on the details and minutia of the project.
It’s value-add lies in its high-level tracking and reporting capabilities.
Figure 4.B: Sample Executive Project
The first version of the Executive Project Tracking System was based on a
Microsoft Access database with a Visual Basic user interface. As the client
requested increased functionality from the application, it was converted to an
SQL/ASP based solution. Requirements for the application continue to expand,
and RemoteNet anticipates adding invoice-tracking and other functionality in
the near term.
web-enabled management reporting.
content and data from suppliers, internal resources, and customer/supplier
receives a variety of weekly, monthly, and annual reports and data concerning
benefits costs; benefits processing speed and accuracy; customer satisfaction;
and supplier costs and action plans. These measurement reports have
historically been paper-based and available only via traditional channels.
Figure 4.C: Benefits Metrics Site
In September 1999, RemoteNet proposed to web-enable these reports in order to
provide the client with easy, shareable access to the materials. A website for
the client’s internal use, Benefits Metrics, was built to meet this need.
Benefits Metrics provides the client with a single source for the metrics that
measure the operations of the benefits efforts. The client can define who
within the company has access to the site and to individual reports, thereby
making reports available to users on an as-needed basis.
successful launch of the Benefits Metrics site in 2000, RemoteNet has provided
ongoing maintenance for the site and is currently researching the use of
real-time streaming data to update reporting. RemoteNet proposes to put in
place an XML solution that will (1) reduce the need for manual entry and
manipulation of data; (2) provide a conduit for ease-of-sharing of
client-supplier metrics data; (3) enhance and expand the site’s
functionality for the client.
integrated, client-focused benefits delivery system.
employee benefits website.
the client’s vision of providing
“integrated, top quality, cost effective, client-focused benefits” is the
belief that customer service is the driving force behind the organization. The
customers are perceived as having very high expectations for benefits
Figure 4.D: Benefits OnLine Opening
In September 1999, RemoteNet launched the development of Benefits OnLine, a
web-based employee benefits information and transaction site. The site was
designed and is maintained keeping in mind the client’s goal of implementing
self-service benefits delivery systems using leading-edge information
technologies. Benefits OnLine is currently comprehensive in the information it
offers to the client’s current employees concerning their benefits.
Information concerning recently acquired entities is added on an as-needed
basis. RemoteNet is working on enhancements to the site that include
comprehensive information on retiree benefits.
scope of the Benefits OnLine project was to create a single, web-enabled space
for benefits information. Based on the success of the original installation,
RemoteNet is now working on an expanded project scope. Future site
functionality will include user personalization; online forms completion; and
enhanced transactional capabilities.
Business Resumption Plan
system and process availability.
systems and processes recovery plan.
has a clear responsibility to ensure the availability of its systems and
processes and the benefits provided to corporate employees. RemoteNet
participates in the development and maintenance of the client’s formal
business resumption plan (BRP).
Figure 4.E: Sample Job Binder Job and
Procedure Access Screen
RemoteNet’s responsibilities under the plan include the identification of
mission critical client processes and the systems that support them; the
methodology for recovery and resumption of these processes and systems under a
disaster scenario; and participation in the actual recovery process in the
event of a disaster. RemoteNet actively participates in the ongoing
maintenance, review, revision and testing of the client’s BRP.
value-add to the client’s BRP, RemoteNet is currently developing web-enabled
business procedures for the client. In addition to providing support for daily
operations, the custom Job Binder application will allow for easy access to
procedures by staff members unaccustomed to performing those procedures under
a reduced-staffing scenario.
benefits applications and data sources
single front-end for users to access client benefits applications
Information Portals (EIP) are applications that enable companies to unlock
internally and externally stored information and provide users a single
gateway to personalized data needed to make informed business decisions. They
are a merger or a collaboration of software applications that consolidate,
manage, analyze and distribute information across and outside of an enterprise
(including Business Intelligence, content management, and data warehouse mart
the client’s objective of integrating its applications and information for
ease of use by the employees who administer employee benefits, RemoteNet
formed a portal evaluation team in mid 2000 for purposes of determining the
viability and reliability of an EIP solution.
evaluation team, comprised of client, supplier, and RemoteNet representatives,
took a phased approach to the project. This approach was designed to fully
determine the client’s portal requirements and technological environment as
well as the portal software capable of meeting those requirements and working
within the environment.
was divided into nine distinct phases:
The Portal Evaluation Team formation
of Current Environment
Selections and Product Presentations
Evaluation Summary and Recommendations
interviewed the client’s prospective portal user groups and department
managers to provide an accurate view of program and access rights
requirements. The information was essential in determining and constructing
building requirements. The portal team believed that in order to provide a
realistic recommendation, it must be certain of the systems, applications
and data to which users need access and, more importantly, the type of
team’s goal was to undertake a very aggressive schedule (less than one
month) during which the group would develop a comprehensive understanding of
the various portal products selected for review. It was the team’s
intention to obtain resources from various organizations in order to provide
an unbiased opinion to the client. It was also imperative to have a wide
range of knowledge and areas of expertise within the group to increase the
level of understanding overall.
Figure 4.F: Sample Portal
narrowed the EIP application field to four vendors, from which it ultimately
selected one for recommendation to the client. RemoteNet is currently in the
process of implementing a pilot program for the recommended EIP application,
during which it will install the application at the client site, integrate
selected applications, and solicit user feedback on the effectiveness of the
The provision of
employee benefits and services is a data and process intensive endeavor.
RemoteNet’s goal in meeting the needs of the featured client has been to
make readily available the technology tools that facilitate the delivery of
employee benefits. Through the effective deployment of these tools, the client
is able to leverage the existing skills of its staff to take on an
ever-increasing workload and responsibilities in an efficient, integrated