- Service Areas
The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 478 Benefit Funds provide healthcare, pension, annuity, and other benefits to members of the local. Polar Design created the first version of the Local 478 participant portal in 2008, which was a state of the art multi-employer benefit portal at its creation. The portal provided participants with a secure way to view their personal benefit information as well as get answers to general questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The user interface included charts, graphs and dynamically generated infographics that helped participants understand their benefit situation more quickly through visuals.
The initial portal design aged well — until the advent of smartphones and other mobile devices. As participants’ browsing habits shifted to smaller screens that they used quite literally anytime and anywhere, the need for a redesign became apparent. Polar Design responded by crafting a new, responsive and modern design that scales perfectly from mobile to table to desktop screen sizes.
Like many of our other Taft-Hartley participant portals, the new IUOE 478 Benefit funds portal opens with a dashboard where participants view a customized display of their personal benefit information. Dashboards include tables, interactive charts and information boxes which call out key pieces of information. Each dashboard is designed specifically for the needs of our funds’ participants and no two dashboard are alike. Dashboards answer as much as 80% of participants’ benefit questions, but where a participant has more specific questions, they can drill down to pages with additional data – again, presented visually – related to each benefit fund.
We also upgraded the code base to the latest version of the PHP Laravel framework, which allowed a less time consuming implementation while enhancing security, stability and the long term total cost of ownership by supporting more efficient object oriented programming. The portal now also integrates seamlessly with another new system – the SilverStripe content management solution – empower Local 478 to create and manage content in the public benefit information site and the secure portal.
Because each portal is a unique product designed for the specific needs of our fund clients and their participants, you will find unique features in one portal or another. Some special functionality created just for IUOE 478 Benefit Funds follow.
Like most of our benefit portals, the Local 478 participant portal features a clean, attractive and dynamic dashboard that shows participants their individual benefit information in an easy to understand format. Icons and other visual cues help orient participants to the information they seek. More complex topics or data such as work hours are presented in dynamic charts and graphs that participants can interact with. Taft-Hartley funds can often address 50% – 80% of typical participant queries after login with a well designed, visually engaging dashboard like Local 478’s which is built with its particular benefits and participant groups in mind.
Since Local 478 provides unemployment benefits to its members, a key customer service priority is providing participants quick and easy access to report their work status. Every page in the portal features a “Report Layoff” button that, once clicked, opens a form where participants can report their work status to help accelerate access to benefits. The same button allows participants to report “back to work” status as well.
Local 478 prides itself in support its participants like true brothers and sisters in their employment needs. All participants maintain an online, printable resume that they can provide to employers as well as provide to employers digitally. The resume features connects with the Local 478’s Training Fund which provides certification for particular machinery or skills, reporting those certifications directly in the online resume without requiring the participant constantly update changes to their skillset.
Scrolling down, one sees the full list of certifications and job experience. A button next to each section provides participants the means to request changes, which are posted to Local 478 Benefit Funds’ benefit administration system via flat file upload.
IUOE Local 478 invested in a third party training portal where participants can access class schedules, instructor profiles, coursework, assessments and other features commonly provided by LMS systems. The learning portal requires login, but IUOE Local 478 did not want to require that participants log into multiple websites with multiple logins. To simplify participants experience when engaging with the funds’ online presence, we implemented single sign-on that allow participants to login without having to enter a username and password by simply clicking on the LMS logo in the training page.
Each page and form of the Local 478 benefit portal is fully responsive, which means that it scales perfectly from the smallest smartphone screens to tablets, laptops and large desktop monitors. The site not only resizes but undergoes reconfiguration of its design to display larger text, easily to read buttons and stacked widgets on smaller screens.
The Local 478 portal uses the PHP programming language and is built on the Laravel code framework which provides numerous benefits ranging from enhanced security to application scalability. The Laravel PHP framework is one of the most widely utilized in the world, supported by tens of thousands of PHP programmers worldwide. While PHP is an older language, it is among the most versatile and supported for web applications. The Laravel framework itself reduces development time with a number of features that support detailed debugging and tracing, unit testing, and object oriented PHP code support.
SilverStripe is a PHP based content management solution that is built on a framework comparable the Laravel. The CMS is totally modular and offers full separation of content and presentation. As a result, we can integrate it with other systems (like the secure portal) to allow it to manage the content located inside what one would normally think of as static pages.
The CMS is also very easy to use – accessible to non-technical users.
With this improvement, Local 478 has obtained the power to manage all of its public web site content, as well as select pages within the portal. This has reduced bottlenecks, increased the funds’ self-reliance and dramatically increased the speed with which critical content can be created.