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Updated 11:00 AM March 15, 2004



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E-mails deliver user-friendly HR data to U-M community

In an effort to communicate more efficiently through the use of technology, Human Resource Records and Information Services (HRRIS) is sending employees reports, reminders and confirmations via automated e-mails. The process uses data from the M-Pathways system.

The notifications sent out during the past 12 months cover many data needs for employees at the University. Department managers receive e-mails informing them of employees whose probationary periods are coming to an end or whose I-9 forms are expiring. The required paperwork is sent as an attachment. Internal and external job applicants receive confirmation that their bids have been entered and are notified once the positions have been filled.

"The employment process and the support HRRIS gives to managers in fulfilling their job expectations has been improved by the automated e-mail system," says Laurita Thomas, incoming vice president and chief human resource officer, pending approval March 18 by the Board of Regents.

She notes that electronic communications are designed to be an easy way for employees and others to obtain information. She hopes more and more people will embrace this type of communication as HR initiates online Open Enrollment this year, as well as other efforts to streamline processes through technology.

The e-mails utilize records in the M-Pathways system, says Ken Fink, senior business system analyst at HRRIS, who developed the delivery system.

"It is a system that uses other systems," he says. "It goes to other places [such as M-Pathways] to get the data it needs and to determine when it should be sent out. We present it in a way that is service-oriented and user-friendly."

Currently there are 13 types of information being sent out in the automated e-mails. They are related to the employment process, timekeeping, probationary reviews and benefits.

Currently there are 13 types of information being sent out in automated e-mails.

"These are excellent examples of how individuals and units both can benefit directly when the data in M-Pathways are used effectively," says Laura Patterson, associate vice president for Michigan Administrative Information Services. "Everyone wins because the system does most of the work."

The e-mails are not only user-friendly for the recipient; the system is simple for HRRIS to operate, Fink says.

"There is not a huge labor effort to set up something like this," he says. "I put the data demands into a scheduler, and even if I didn't show up on Monday morning, it would still get done."

At a time when money is in short supply, the price is right for the e-mail system.

"The cost to the University so far for this whole system has been $200 for some software licensing," Fink says.

Fink has received strong positive feedback about the e-mails, and even the negative responses have been helpful, he says.

"I decided to develop this system because of feedback I was getting when I was sent up to departments to assist them with their data needs," he says. "We've learned in the process what kinds of things we need to tell people."

With the success of the automated e-mails, Thomas encourages further development of the system.

"This is the direction we want to achieve for the University, and we welcome suggestions and ideas on how our service can be even further expanded," she says.

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