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CalPERS Automates Production Of Annual Member Statements

By: Cheryl Hoffman

CalPERs has switched to an automated system to mail member statements. Cheryl Hoffman, of CalPERS, explains why the move was made.

Public retirement systems across the United States face unique challenges as the largest generation in U.S. history begins to retire amid tightened state budgets and escalating healthcare costs. To meet these challenges, leading public retirement systems are improving operational efficiencies through investment in information technologies. Just this fall, The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest public retirement system in the nation, completed the mailing of member statements through a new automated system.

Each year, CalPERS produces and mails over a million statements to its member base. These statements resemble financial account statements and represent the relationship between the member and CalPERS. The member statement layout and content has been tailored to meet its customers’ changing informational needs. Not only was this year’s content and layout greatly improved, the way in which it was produced changed dramatically. The automation of the member statements saved considerable operational time and money while ensuring a high level of data accuracy. The infrastructure that pulls the information and produces the statements utilizes a browser-based administrative application. With the way the system is designed, CalPERS has greater control over the look and feel of the statements, adjusting the layout or information to meet member needs even easier.

Personlaized Member Statements
Working with Software AG staff and using the company’s XML Business Integration technologies, including the extensible multiple publishing system (xMPS) framework, CalPERS’ was able to use its managed business rules to generate personalized member statements. The statements can be distributed using a variety of channels, including traditional print and the Web, thus enhancing self-service capabilities. The xMPS framework is extensible, meaning that it provides a platform to generate multiple types of CalPERS documents, including business forms and other commonly used informational materials.

For its call centre staff, this new automated system provides new tools for aiding members with questions. In the month in which statements are mailed, the call centre receives more than 30,000 calls. Most of these calls were requests for additional statements, requests for account changes sparked by information on statements, or requests for more detailed account information. With the new system, call centre staff can send members to the website to view information in greater detail. Additionally, with the push of a button, call centre staff can generate additional/ replacement statements for members and either mail the information directly or send it to the member via email. This is an especially valuable feature during peak service times when the call centre receives thousands of calls requesting additional statements and information.

Incredibly Smooth
The implementation of the system for automated Annual Member Statements was incredibly smooth. In fact, when CalPERS ran its quality and assurance tests for the customer assistance (call centre), it had all of the bugs fixed in one day. This process was expected to take up to two weeks. CalPERS gained an incredible amount of knowledge regarding the administration and generation of automated statements. That knowledge, along with the infrastructure and training Software AG provided, has positioned CalPERS with the ability to further automate, personalize, and generate many other forms, documents, and processes. By reusing the framework, CalPERS will achieve greater return on this investment, as well as create opportunities for more member self-service applications.

Cheryl Hoffman is enterprise project manager at CalPERS.

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