2017 Service Stars – TRANSAMERICA

Ascension Health used to have approximately 130 different payroll feeds, one from each of its health care facilities, which meant that its recordkeeper, Transamerica, had approximately 130 payroll processes to handle in receiving data. “Before, the locations operated individually in submitting their payroll files,” concurs Terry Hartig, Ascension Health’s retirement savings plan manager.

But in 2011, Ascension Health—which does its payroll processing internally—began moving all of its locations onto one software system, Oracle’s PeopleSoft. And, as facilities make the transition, the company has needed Transamerica’s ongoing help to make sure the processes by which Transamerica receives plan-related data get set up correctly.

Transamerica Senior Manager of Client Services Jeff Clemen and his team “have been super-flexible and available for all of our calls,” Hartig says. “It has been a lot of moving pieces. They juggled all of that at the same time as they were recordkeeping our plans.” Clemen’s colleagues working on Transamerica’s Ascension Health team have included John English, intermediate account manager of client services, and Megan Messick, until recently account manager.

“Every location that was accustomed to working independently on a payroll file had to shift focus to a standardized system,” Hartig says. For example, each location had to go from however many annual pay periods it had utilized to 26 pay periods.
As each location moved to PeopleSoft, Transamerica worked with it to ensure a smooth transfer of its 401(k)- and 403(b)-related data—e.g., compensation, deferrals and loan repayments. “First we worked with Ascension Health to provide consistent layouts for us to receive the data. We both appreciate good, clean data,” Clemen notes. “[Since then,] it has been a matter of implementation, to receive the data we use to populate that [participant group] file.”

As each transition project begins, Transamerica and Ascension Health staff work from a timeline that outlines what needs to happen, and when, for the project to remain on track. Additionally, Transamerica regularly talks with the Ascension staff by phone. “It’s a lot of constant communication,” Clemen says.

Transamerica has been Ascension Health’s recordkeeper since 2003, Clemen says. “We have worked with them for many years already, so we know each other well,” he says. “As a question comes up, we have that relationship that allows us to quickly work through the issue.”

Gone are the days when Ascension Health had well over 100 feeds of payroll data. “Now, most of that comes to us in one file,” Hartig says. “Everything is more timely. It’s much more streamlined, and much easier than it was before.”
The payroll transitions continue, as Ascension Health makes acquisitions. “It is an ongoing process,” Hartig says. “We have a couple of deployments this year for new locations, and I expect that next year we will, too.” —Judy Ward