2 daysAverage document turnaround time
↑NMERB employer and member experience
Retirements in the education industry have been trending upward for years. In recent times, the increase was fueled, in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic—as many grappled with the risk of returning to in-person operations. In a nationwide poll of educational professionals, nearly one-third said COVID-19 has made them more likely to retire early. “We’ve been seeing an increase in retirement interest across the country this year,” said Lawrence Esquibel, Deputy Director of the New Mexico Educational Retirement Board (NMERB).
NMERB provides secure retirement benefits for New Mexico’s educational employees—serving over 160,000 members and retirees. “Those are the people we’re here for—and we want to make things as easy as possible for them,” Esquibel added. The organization implemented DocuSign eSignature to minimize paper-based processes, improve the member experience and increase efficiencies during the pandemic and beyond.
Accelerating retirement processes—from two weeks to two days
Every year, NMERB processes close to 300,000 documents as members go through the employment lifecycle. Before DocuSign, everything was on paper. It typically took two weeks (or longer) for a document—such as a retirement application—to get from the member to the employer and finally back to NMERB to be processed and scanned for digital record keeping. Adding to the complexity, applications had an extremely high return rate due to errors—“as high as 70% on some forms where members didn't input information correctly,” said Esquibel. That extended the turnaround time by weeks in some cases. “We wanted to reduce that timeline and make things better for our members.”
The push for paperless workflows became more critical when COVID-19 triggered shutdowns across the state and many employees began working from home during the organization’s busiest time of the year. “The second quarter is the time when we process the majority of our retirement applications,” said Esquibel.
DocuSign helped ease the shift to remote work while keeping business running—and payroll checks flowing—in the new normal. Now, members simply click a link to a PowerForm and are guided through a quick, automated process. Errors were drastically reduced, and the average turnaround time is significantly shorter. In the not-too-distant future, NMERB plans on integrating eSignature with SharePoint to streamline document management in a secure, centralized location.
Adapting to the new work-from-home world
NMERB went live with DocuSign in just six weeks—leveraging DocuSign University and the team’s designated Customer Success Architect to ensure a smooth rollout. While the implementation was seamless, change management in the new work-from-home world was a little challenging. “Trying to change processes while everyone was remote was a bit difficult,” Esquibel said. Luckily, IT Business Analyst Nicole Jaramillo was up for the task. “She’s the person we send in when we want important projects to be successful—and she certainly came through.”
Jaramillo is in charge of all things DocuSign—from building the PowerForms to taking it from demo to production. “We had a bit of a slow buy-in, but that’s changing now that people are seeing how much easier DocuSign makes their jobs—and how much more efficient processes are,” she said.
These are some of the strategies Jaramillo used to help everyone adapt to the new way of doing things:
- Began virtual training sessions two weeks before go-live
- Rolled eSignature out to a small group of NMERB employers to work out any kinks ahead of the organization-wide launch
- Went live with just one use case (the retirement application) to start
- Created a step-by-step guide for members
Any trepidation subsided once people actually started using it. “All of the feedback has been positive,” Jaramillo added.
Going deeper into digital
Today, DocuSign is accelerating eight key processes across the organization, including direct deposit setups, beneficiary designations and address changes. Now that the State of New Mexico has approved eNotary services, NMERB’s Deputy Director predicts DocuSign use cases will soon double.
“We're looking forward to a really successful 2022 where we'll have most of our documents coming to us in a digital format,” said Esquibel.
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