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Bonnie Jones: practicing efficiency to drive value to members

As a senior financial analyst at BlueCross, Bonnie Jones doesn’t get to interact with BlueCross members face to face. But she sees her role directly tied to delivering value to them.

“We can save money on administrative expenses by operating in a more efficient manner,” she explains. “As a not-for-profit insurer, we then pass along those savings to members through the lowest premiums possible.”

Bonnie joined the BlueCross finance team in 2016, first working on investment compliance and performance analysis.
“My job was making sure we were good stewards of the premium dollars we collect from members until they’re needed to pay claims,” she says. “We have rules set by the board of directors on how we invest those dollars so we don’t expose ourselves to unwanted risk.”

A new role, a remote setting

In March 2020, Bonnie joined the incentive and benefit accounting team. She monitors compensation metrics set by management and the board of directors.
“I had five days in the office with my new colleagues before we were all sent home due to COVID-19,” she says. “We’ve learned a lot about working as a team while being remote. In my current role, I have one foot in finance and one in human resources. It’s taught me a lot more about how the company operates as a whole.”
Last year, Bonnie expanded her company knowledge by participating in the BlueCross Job Rotation program.  The program pairs high-performing employees with another team in the company. A three-to-six-month, full-time assignment, Job Rotation allows nominated employees to learn new skillsets.
Bonnie worked closely with the BlueCross payroll team. Her first project was a doozy: preparing for the unexpected.

“We set out to examine our processes and make sure we had systems in place to support business operations in the event of something outside our control, like another pandemic,” Bonnie says.

That deep dive into payroll gave her a better understanding of processing compensation and using data for reporting.
“Payroll is part of our ‘lights on’ team, meaning they’re on site at our Chattanooga headquarters and ensuring our employees can continue supporting our members,” she says. “I went into the office on processing days to learn about it firsthand. One thing I did as a result of the training was modify my schedule for pulling payroll data from our systems to increase efficiency when payroll is processed on alternate days due to holidays.
“It seems like a simple change, but one we’d never thought of until I saw what they did in person.”

Automation to drive efficiency

Bonnie also developed a way to automate a reporting file used to summarize federal, state and local payroll taxes.
Before the automation, the payroll system would generate the payroll data, which was then downloaded, compiled and reviewed by management, often involving manual data entry. Bonnie took the existing data and developed a way to automate the creation of a single file with all the necessary data for multiple states and localities.
After testing against every reporting period in 2022 as well as training with payroll personnel, the automation went live this year.
“States and localities have different rules about payroll taxes, so it’s important we’re pulling the right data and paying the right amounts as required,” Bonnie explains. “It’s an important compliance and efficiency tool for BlueCross. Payroll now can spend more time analyzing data instead of working with the data to build a report.” 
“This reporting has become more important for BlueCross, because as a remote-first company, we’re starting to have more and more employees from different states join the company.”

Reinvigorating a career focus

Bonnie has now returned to her role on the finance team full-time.
“The job rotation program taught me some finer points about our payroll process that have helped me in my current role,” she says. “It was a challenge, but any true growth comes from challenge. The program is an example of how company leadership not only say they support growth, but enable employees to grow.” 
Ultimately, Bonnie is motivated by making things easier for everyone — and appreciates the opportunities BlueCross provides for her to do so.

“I enjoy helping other people find efficiencies in what they’re doing so they can be more effective in their role.”

I hope to continue doing that for the rest of my career at BlueCross.”

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