State Street Launches Self-Service Retirement Payments
Client:State Street Retiree Services
- Move from an older COBOL-based application to a self-service Web front-end for self-management of pension payouts without changing the core processing, tracking and payment system.
- Plus Web, a Web front-end application, for employers and administrators to self-administer their retiree data, manage demographic information and reconcile the benefit payment process for retirees.
- An updated system that attracts client prospects, thereby establishing new revenue for State Street's Retiree Services business.
The employers and administrators who comprise State Street Retiree Services (SSRS) clients now have the option of self-managing — rather than outsourcing — their retiree data, demographic information and benefit payment processes. Plus Web, a new, enhanced front-end self-service capability was developed in conjunction with SSRS's existing retirement benefits platform called Plus. It not only saves clients money but also allows them the flexibility of insourcing, outsourcing or co-sourcing arrangements.
"CSC provided the project management resource that we needed to oversee the project," says David Rouse, State Street senior vice president and director of retiree services, who is responsible for selling the solution to clients.
Adding a new feature
State Street is the world's leading provider of financial services to institutional investors. Its Retiree Services group provides benefit disbursement services, which include maintenance and distribution of retirement payments. It also provides retiree administration, offering full support to the individuals who receive these payments.
SSRS clients had been demanding the ability to cut costs by self-administering all or parts of the retiree benefit payment processes, a service offered by numerous competitors. SSRS's Plus application already offered a feature-rich record-keeping system. But SSRS realized that to retain current clients, promote themselves to new clients and gain market share, they needed to create a self-service model for existing retirement benefits payment processing clients.
"This application is intended for employers to self-administer their employees' history and demographic information, along with reconciling the retirement account payments issued to active retirees," says Marty Racenis, CSC's program director for Plus Web. "Previously, State Street only offered retirement payment processing services to their clients as part of a total business outsourcing solution."
Creating a Web experience
State Street made it clear early on that they were not looking for a redesign of their processes, just a translation of their existing system to the Web. Therefore, the design needed to incorporate communication between the new Web front-end application and the older, Web-incompatible back-end pension processing system.
"The challenge," explains Racenis, "was that we were translating a manual service that had been internal to State Street into something that could be offered on the Web so the client could self-service." Redesigning 200 individual screens, CSC's user experience team took the less-is-more approach, sometimes distilling 10 screens into just one. Whereas payments used to be calculated manually on each account, now the system computes numbers — and flags errors — automatically.
According to Racenis, CSC was involved with four distinct components of the project:
• Analyzing requirements for completeness and total business coverage
• Developing the Web application's graphic arts and screen navigation
• Designing the business logic that the application would support
• Developing and testing the application using an offshore team
Listening to all sides
Along with the parameters set by State Street, CSC also had to incorporate the needs of CitiStreet, a premier global benefits provider, and one of the nation's largest retirement plan record keepers. Although CitiStreet is a partnership between subsidiaries of State Street and Citigroup, "State Street and CitiStreet are two separate stakeholders, each using its own process flow," explains Jim Rosenberg, CSC's account manager. "So CSC needed to balance the needs of both groups."
Following a year of product development and design onshore at State Street's Quincy, Mass., offices, the Plus Web application was then sent offshore to India for development and testing by a 25-member CSC team. "We recognized early on that as much as we'd like to think that the design and architecture were solid," says Racenis of the year-long testing process, "there would be a lot of change when we rolled the solution out to the product development group." Thus, one of the keys to delivering Plus Web was an efficient change management process that properly controlled adjustments without impeding the needs of the business operation.
For CSC, Plus Web was a significant project, as it showcased the company's global capabilities. Rosenberg notes that "CSC was able to establish a development team and a development environment in India to utilize its common methodology and be productive in a short amount of time. Our ability to work both at the client site and in India allowed us to meet aggressive client delivery schedules and deliver a quality product for a fixed price."
A team effort pays off
The client appreciated the offshore/onshore model as well. "CSC brought a financially sensitive approach to the project by utilizing offshore resources in conjunction with their onshore — and our onshore — resources," says Rouse.
Following a smooth implementation of Plus Web's new capabilities, the response from existing State Street clients — as well as new client prospects and industry analysts — has been overwhelmingly positive.
"Disciplined program management, combined with smooth and open communication flow, was key to coordinating the needs and time zones of so many disparate groups," adds Racenis. "It was a real team effort."