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HRExaminer Radio

Guest: The Compliance Gang at Equifax Workforce Solutions with Angela Lockman, Jason Fry, and Julia Bailey
Episode: 126
Air Date: November 6, 2015


John Sumser visited the St. Louis offices of Equifax Workforce Solutions and sat down with three key members of their compliance team. On this edition of HRExaminer Radio you’ll hear Angela Lockman Vice President, Equifax Workforce Solutions, Jason Fry Sr Director Product Management, and Julia Bailey, Sr Director Product Management.

Equifax Compliance Website


Audio MP3



Begin transcript

John Sumser:                        Good morning and welcome to HR Examiner radio. I’m your host John Sumser. Today we’re coming to you from beautiful St. Louis, Missouri. Where it is a crisp fall day like we never get in California. We’re going to be talking with a group I have been introduced to as the Compliance Gang. We’re going to start with Angela Lockman. Angela would you introduce yourself.

Angela Lockman:                I will John. I am responsible for product management for our pre-employment compliance solutions. I’ve been here about eleven years. Pre-employment compliance solutions for us include I-9, verify management tax credits and incentives, as well as corporate and other government on-boarding compliance solutions.

John Sumser:                        What Angela was kind enough to not point out there is that I forgot to tell you that we’re coming to you live from Equifax Workforce Solutions. The folk that we’re talking to today are key members of the compliance organizations. Jason Fry how about you introduce yourself a little bit.

Jason Fry:                                Thanks John. My name is Jason Fry. I am product management for our tax credits and incentives platform and our I-9 management solutions. We’re dealing in two fairly heavily regulated federal programs that have impact on both the employee when they start, work and the managers to make sure the work gets finished correctly and on time.

John Sumser:                        Julia would you introduce yourself.

Julia Bailey:                            Sure happy to be here today. Julia Bailey product management for compliance center, which focuses on compliance aspect of on-boarding like state compliance, different federal documents like I-9 and company specific documents.

John Sumser:                        We’re just going to sort of walk though your day and what it’s like to be here at Equifax. Angela what are the big things that you spend your time worrying about?

Angela Lockman:                Really driving the growth of the products. Both from the standpoint of new regulatory challenges that are facing our employers and their employees. Also how to reach those employers and their employees. The changing technology, the changing channels for us to deliver some of these compliance solutions and how we integrate with some of those channels to keep the speed bumps in on-boarding from becoming potholes for the new hires and for the employers.

John Sumser:                        It must be quite an interesting time. I understand that the Obama administration has been very good for business, and that you’ve been encountering lots of change. Do you think that’s going to go on? Is it always going to be the case? That your job is to be on the receiving end of a big bunch of legislation and making it easy for other people to navigate that.

Angela Lockman:                Yes we see it John. Not just at the federal level. Not just with something like ACA or the intending changes with FLSA for example. We’re seeing growing interest and activity at the state and municipal level. Whether it’s state by state immigration reform, or it’s the state and municipal compliance regulations, notification requirements and the risk that goes with that for employers, and the need to interact with their employees at on-boarding to make sure they’re compliant.

John Sumser:                        How do you stay on top of all of that? There must be five thousand possible places where somebody could write a regulation that you’d be interested in covering. How do you know what to pay attention to?

Angela Lockman:                Julia how many municipalities did you tell me? Yesterday you gave us specific.

Julia Bailey:                            There are actually 90,000 different government entities across the United States.

John Sumser:                        90,000 different government entities?

Julia Bailey:                            There’s about 20,000 larger ones that we would consider municipalities to focus on. We’ve seen a trend of states, as Angela mentioned, creating new hire regulations. We have around a hundred of them that employers should be paying attention to in the on-boarding process. Those employers know about maybe five of those, which is difficult to stay on top of them. We’re also looking at the municipalities and we see states even those states who haven’t enacted something like, Washington doesn’t have a wage notification but Seattle just enacted one. They’re stating to have to focus more and more and try to figure out what do I need to do to stay in compliance.

John Sumser:                        It hurts my head just to think about all the details, and how you build a filing system to hold 90,000 municipalities worth of details.

Angela Lockman:                It hurts my head too, but that’s what we focus on all day long.

John Sumser:                        Does your head just grow from using all of those muscles all the time?

Julia Bailey:                            It does we’re very lucky. We have a great internal law team that helps us support that. As well as we use external law resources that again really helps support our employers because they can’t stay on top.

Angela Lockman:                It’s a real pain point John. Even like Julia said our internal resources we have multiple external resources, but you really find no one has it completely covered so it’s really helping our employers address. We talk about they want to address. Tell me the action I need to take today, what’s the hottest spot on the map that I need to address. It is a real challenge to stay on top of especially all this state municipal activity.

John Sumser:                        [inaudible 00:06:13] of the business it seems to me that if I was faced with the prospect of 90,000 people who were out there looking for an opp to screw me, and I had to figure how who was doing it. I might not go into business. It’s an enabling sort of thing that you do. It’s very interesting.

Angela Lockman:                We think so. Other people think we’re nerds, but we thing it’s interesting. It’s not just the buying risk for the employer, it also impacts the reputation of the employer. They don’t want to be the one to end up in the newspaper as the non-compliant. They want their employees to feel and know that they’re trying to be compliant, but focus on their corporate methods, focus on their people.

Julia Bailey:                            To tie into that, with I-9 it is well known. One of the challenges with state and municipal compliance is, a lot of times these form requirements don’t have a fine side to it. What you’ll see is litigation occurs later on. There’s some type of employer lawsuit that goes on, mainly around wage an hour, and then they’re going to start looking at did you deliver these notifications you were supposed to. If you didn’t that hurts you in the lawsuit, so you see a really big impact later on.

John Sumser:                        Wow so if come to you and I’m a business person in Taos, New Mexico. Would you be able to tell me who I need to be concerned about?

Julia Bailey:                            That’s what we’re working on now. Right now we do it by state so we can tell you for the state here’s everything you need to be concerned about. Not only do we tell you, but we actually create all the forms that are needed. A lot of times the government just gives regulations, but they’re not actually telling you and here’s the form you need to be compliant. We create all those forms and we actually deliver them electronically so when hire someone you don’t have to do anything. We’ll send that form to them. You have an audit trail that they received it, that you did what you needed to do, and if new legislation pass we create those forms and put them up automatically so it keeps you in compliance.

John Sumser:                        You have the forms in advance at the government agencies basically?

Julia Bailey:                            Right, working either with them so as soon as it’s released we have it. Sometimes the government actually has a start date when you should start giving this notification maybe January first, but they don’t give you the forms until February. In a case like that we’ll work with a law form to create a form to use until the government actually produces one.

John Sumser:                        What a great service, keeping me out of trouble. Jason how do you fit into all of this.

Jason Fry:                                Honestly, where my group woks is really on the front end of the hiring process. Before an employee is hired the opportunity is there for an employer to screen them for the work opportunity tax credits. It’s a federal income tax credit that offsets federal income tax owed. If an employer hires an employee out of one of several different classification groups, generally considered to having a barrier to employment. If an employer hires an employee out of that set, it’s able to get them certified. They work at least 120 hours, then they could take a portion of their wages as an income tax credit on their federal income tax return. They key is, that question to see if that person is eligible for the credit has to be delivered before they start work. That is where we interact with the employee population.

We’re offering a technology that meets that employee where they are, and then delivers the eligibility information to the employer. The employer has that information, can look at two candidate who may be fitting in the same spot maybe equally as eligible for the position that’s at hand, but one eligible for the tax credit and one not eligible for the tax credit. The federal government is offering an incentive to hire that eligible person. We give the tax payer, employer client in our world, the knowledge and information they need to make an informed business decision. They can impact their income tax that they owe at the end of their tax year. That technology then feeds into the other product that I work with which is the I-9 management software.

As we on-board those employees we have to make sure that that form I-9 is filled out good, true, correct, and on time. An I-9 does two things. It proves who they are, and it proves that they’re eligible to work inside the US. The technology that we work with now is really aimed at making sure we meet that employee where they are, and get the employer the tools to handle their piece of that transaction too. The employee self identifies and say yes this is who I am and provides information in what we call section one of the I-9 form. The employer then fills out section two of the I-9 form. The employer has to see or a representative that the employer designates has to see the employee, has to see the documents that the employee shows as their eligibility form, and has to be able to touch and feel those documents, at the same time making sure that they are good and appear to be correct, and appear to relate to the person that is standing in front of them. They then complete that section two and then are finished with that process. The key things are that section one has to be completed prior to, and section two has to be completed within three business days of employment.

John Sumser:                        Got it. This is part of an on-boarding process. What are the pieces of on-boarding?

Jason Fry:                                Julia works a lot more with our on-boarding clients.

Julia Bailey:                            There’s a lot of pieces of on-board. The state compliance piece we talked about that’s a key piece. I-9 is definitely a piece. Normally we try to do [YP 00:11:48] screening at the very beginning of the ob-boarding process. There’s a lot of other pieces that take place too. There’s over 140 tax documents that have to be presented across states and again municipalities. That’s something that we support within compliance center. Last year there was over fifty tax form changes. Again we stay on top of those, update the forms automatically electronically and distribute them. Then there is also going to be a lot of employer specific documents. There policies, their handbooks, their procedures, all of those things they need to get to their new hires and need a signature on them so they can prove later on yes the employee is aware, this is my policy and procedures.

Angela Lockman:                Our view on on-boarding for us and the way we differentiate ourselves, is that we are best inbreed for complex compliance within on-boarding. We’re not benefits enrolled, we’re not equipment procurement, we’re not socialization. If you think of the traditional view of what is on-boarding. We have really heard from our clients, they trust us with government corporate compliance. That’s where we’re focused within, even that on-boarding ecosystem.

John Sumser:                        How many different tax forms did you say there were?

Julia Bailey:                            Over 140.

John Sumser:                        140. You figure out which ones I need to see and which ones I don’t?

Julia Bailey:                            Yes, based on where you work, where you live, and reciprocity agreement between the sates will determine which form you should see.

John Sumser:                        I am so glad you pick apart that. I think I would have to wander far away into the woods on a snowy day and not get out of the snow.

Julia Bailey:                            It is helpful to have a nerd as a product manager.

John Sumser:                        This is some sort of nerd super power. This is not just wonky.

Julia Bailey:                            Yes there are capes.

John Sumser:                        There are capes involved. When they told me you were the Compliance Gang that’s what they meant.

Julia Bailey:                            That’s what they meant.

John Sumser:                        Just jumping off the building with capes.

Julia Bailey:                            Exactly.

John Sumser:                        Your clients don’t have to jump off.

Julia Bailey:                            Exactly we want to keep them off of the building.

Angela Lockman:                Right wait for us.

Julia Bailey:                            Exactly.

John Sumser:                        What are the headaches of the job? What are the things that make it hard?

Angela Lockman:                I think as we transform to become more agile in our development. It’s really changing the expectations for customer insight, and our ability to reach out more quickly, and receive shorter burst of feedback from our clients. How do we do that? Within a structure where traditional waterfall. You bring up a pretty well developed product to your clients to get feedback. Now it’s how fast, present concepts to customers, get feedback. We’re doing that just his week with customers here in St. Louis. From a market perspective it’s staying ahead of those regulatory changes. How do we quickly develop a concept around that with that customer in sight? Get feedback from customers and decide what the next iteration. Do we kill it and move on? We have feedback both ways this week from customers on ideas that they’re ready for us to take to the next level to a product, and some that we need to kill that wouldn’t apply to them. The challenge is that quick moving landscape, that quick moving technology landscape, and getting back rapid feedback from customers.

John Sumser:                        I’m sort of surprised that you’re doing [Agile 00:15:28] product development. It’s clearly the rage of software development, but I don’t think that I have run across as methods being applied in something that requires this level of precision. It’s usually a lot of arm waving, and a lot of smoke and mirrors so that you can try something out that sort of close and then soup it up after you find out what you got wrong and target it out. Your work requires more clarity and consistency and execution than most of this. It’s quite an interesting place to be doing agile. What have you learn in the process of shifting from waterfall management to agile?

Angela Lockman:                We’ve learned we have to work more closely with our finance partners on funding. Agile development a business case, we’ve learned that the benefit of meeting virtually with our customers, sometimes from a time standpoint you can’t bring all your customers together, or physically get out and see all of them in the time frame where you need to make a decision. We really learned how visualization can help bring our matrix teams together on ideas and concepts, and help us have a meeting of the minds with the customers as well. To help them understand where we’re headed with the products.

John Sumser:                        Would you explain that a little bit more. What do you mean by visualization?

Angela Lockman:                Wire frames, prototyping, even potential data visualization around some of the dash boarding and reporting that we provide to customers. That’s so important when we’re using the payroll data that they provide to us to provide insights to them around where they may have risk. What’s the highest risk to them and action that they need to take and that’s our manager customers.

Julia Bailey:                            To have visualization also helps with the complains aspect because we do run all of our product solutions forms through compliance review to make sure what we’re doing is correct and accurate. Being able to actually show this is what it will look like quickly and get the compliance sign off helps us in the development process, because you can’t just talk about it to someone who’s in a legal position. They need to be able to see exactly what are you going to do before you do it.

Angela Lockman:                Also visualization around the user experience itself, even for the … If we consider the customer the employee or even the completer of section two. We just got a product of the year award from HR Tech for our I-9 Anywhere product. It has mobile capability. The user experience with that mobile capability, the ability of the application to actually help that completer that’s assisting that employee who just wants to go to work. They really don’t want all this hassle of having to show ID and meet with the completer. The application actually walks this completer who maybe has never completed and I-9 before, either the employee of the completer. Helps them compare documents to make sure yes, that’s what a passport … Really getting feedback from the users in developing the product has really helped us but it’s been a challenge, the speed at which we need to do it.

John Sumser:                        Tell me about the product of the year award. I’m going to say that for the people who listen in to this show, the idea that an I-9 oriented product won product of the year is kind of an extraordinary thing. What’s the big deal?

Angela Lockman:                We’re going to take that as real positive that they think it’s extraordinary [crosstalk 00:19:30]. I’m going to make sure my boss hears that. It’s a mature form and it’s an I-9, but it is about that user experience and how you make it easier to reach employees the way employers are hiring them. Jason and the team of our I-9 service …

Jason Fry:                                It came with the crown and the scepters.

John Sumser:                        It looks good on you.

Jason Fry:                                Thank you.

John Sumser:                        For all of you in radio land he on a throne, and everybody else is fanning him with palms.

Jason Fry:                                That’s right I have good people. People!

John Sumser:                        It’s the entourage. It’s all about the guy.

Jason Fry:                                Honestly, moving a [inaudible 00:20:16] that’s been there for thirty years. This is a regulation that has been a mandate federally for thirty years into a place where we meet several different markets and several different users where they are instead of on paper. We all work in a world where when the federal, state, local governments issue rules and regulations that tell us how to and what we should do when both hiring and employing new people. They don’t work in a world where they have an HR background. They work from a legislative and regulatory standpoint. People who have never really hired anybody, never been through the process of bringing someone on to work or first day activities are trying to write rules and regulations around what that activity should look like. It makes it very difficult for people who work in a world where they hire people everyday. Especially the fast pace world we live in today, because for the most part the federal government many of the state governments still work in a paper world. They haven’t moved into electronic systems. When they’re writing these rules and regulations they have a paper frame of mind. We are trying our best to bridge between this paper frame of mind and an electronic world where we’re hiring quicker, faster, with fewer resources. Meet each other somewhere in the middle.

That’s honestly what the I-9 Anywhere technology is built to do. It’s built to take the rules and regulations around the paper process that say I have to see the person that’s applying, and the person that I’m on-boarding. I have to see their documents, I have to physically touch their documents, and I have to record that I did those things. You’ve done an interaction with a person, you have to see documents. Working with the federal government is bound to a paper world, but you’re doing it all electronically through a system. That’s honestly what the technology is built to do. It’s built to work as the bridge between the paper world that the legislatures work in, and the electronic world that the HR professionals are hiring in, and meet us somewhere in the middle. Providing the tools and technology to meet those employees and the managers where they set. The technology really allows anybody from anywhere to use a mobile device to capture images without the images stopping on the device.

At the same time we are concerned about making sure that everything is there and done correctly. We also show concern about what the HR executives are concerned about, the same thing that the security executives are concerned about, same thing that the compliance, and the list executives are concerned about. Which is the accuracy and the protection of those documents. The documents that are shown prove both identity and eligibility to work. That identity proof document can lead to identity theft. We have to make sure that we provide technology that grabs that image in a way where it lessens the possibility that that image is going to go somewhere inappropriate. The technology uses mobile devices, it uses the cameras on the mobile devices, they make sure that the images don’t stop on the device. The images only stop on our servers. We’re adding layers of technology, at the same time we’re adding layer of protection to make sure that we do everything we can to make that employee understand that those documents are as important to us, as important to the employer because that’s who they really see is the employer, as it is to them.

John Sumser:                        Congratulations on the award. Now what are you going to do for me? How are you going to follow product of the year.

Jason Fry:                                Actually Julia is working on product of next year.

Angela Lockman:                We like to think of that going forward.

Julia Bailey:                            Really, same compliance that we talked about was kind of our entry into that market place. We talked about municipal compliance in 20,000 different municipalities. That’s what we’re focused on now we’ll be looking forward to next year to be able to support all of those employers needs for them.

John Sumser:                        How do you do that? Even just calling all of those people once would be … Might take me twenty years to call all those people once, well thirty, 20,000. It would take a long time to call all of those people.

Julia Bailey:                            It’s going to take a lot of research working with again, internal external law firms to figure out what do we need to know, what do we need to focus on. Going back to the agile process will be releasing things in iteration. Let’s tackle those biggest cities first and then start moving on, focusing on hot trends. We know wage notifications are huge right now, because wage and hour lawsuits are the biggest litigation going on somewhere. The world’s focused on wage and hour. Definitely key things like paid sick leave. Those are kind of spreading like wild fire across states and municipalities too. Focusing on those big topics that we know are causing employers problems. Just keep iterating and iterating with more support.

John Sumser:                        Wonderful process. It will never run out.

Julia Bailey:                            It will never stop.

John Sumser:                        It will never stop. That’s good. That’s probably a good reason to invest in Equifax. We have plowed through our half an hour. It’s been fantastic talking to you. Would you please reintroduce yourselves one at a time and we’ll let the people in the audience know how they might get ahold of you if you don’t mind.

Angela Lockman:                Sure. I’m Angela Lockman at Equifax Workforce Solutions, and I’m responsible for the product teams for pre-employment. You can reach me at my email it’s

Jason Fry:                                Jason Fry responsible for product management for our tax credits and incentive program and for our I-9 management platform. You can reach me through my email address

Julia Bailey:                            Julia Bailey responsible for product management for compliance center, which is the state and municipal compliance we talked about. Plus the tax core management. Same thing as the other two

John Sumser:                        Well thanks all of you it’s been really great having you on the show today. You’ve been listing to HR Examiner radio. This had been John Sumser again we’re coming to you from St. Louis, Missouri today. I hope you’ve enjoyed this show and have a great weekend.

End transcript

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