A Conversation with Farmers Union Mutual Insurance VP of Accounting and HR
On March 30, 2023, Greenshades caught up with Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Vice President of Accounting and Human Resources, Monica Vetere, to discuss their transition to the Greenshades Payroll solution.
Let’s dive into the highlights from the interview.
Q: Can you tell us about your company and it’s background?
Monica Vetere (MV): Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Company is the largest domiciled property casualty insurance company in the state of Montana. We have 58 agents in 65 locations around the state.
Greenshades (GS): Tell me more about Farmers Mutual Insurance, it appears you first opened doors in 1915?
MV: That is correct. In 2015, we did a float in the parade for our hundred-year mark. Now we’re almost at 2025.
Another fun fact. In 2022, the agency as a whole hit a big milestone. We hit $202 million. And that was double since 2018. That means, in four or five years, we doubled our agency premium by $1,000,000, which was a huge milestone for such a small company. It's a pretty exciting deal because we had our 100 million party in 2018, and so now we have to have a $200 million policy party.
Q: What was the main driving factor behind a software change?
MV: COVID has changed the way our company is directing its technology. We were able to function and work sending people home, but it wasn't an easy process. We were not ready to work from anywhere in the world and we needed to be and that was part of the problem with our software as it was stored on the server at the office. Therefore, I had to be either working in my office to tap into the network or on my laptop with a VPN. That's when the decision was made to move all our software to subscription-based cloud software.
GS: When did that start?
MV: It started in 2021 once we brought everybody back. The employees staggered their work hours here so that they were not all here at the same time. Everyone had to grab their desktops and then we maxed out the network for people to VPN in. And that's when we knew. We needed to step in and find other ways to work if something ever happens again.
Q: What made you decide to go with Greenshades?
MV: We've been on Solomon since I first started working here, in 1990. Then, we used Dynamics SL (SL) 2012 for the longest time, and we just upgraded to SL 2018, which didn't give you a whole lot of new anything. It had some bells and whistles, but nothing huge.
GS: Was your experience with Microsoft a main driving factor to pick Microsoft Business Central (BC)?
MV: Absolutely. We contacted Velosio, our vendor, because they have access to all different kinds of subscriptions, and they are the main Microsoft holder of our subscriptions for Office 365. In talking with them, BC seemed like it was the better fit. We researched several other financial products and BC had an easier way to pull our data from SL into BC versus starting over. But, when BC was presented to us, it did not have a payroll module or product.
Q: How did you discover Greenshades?
MV: Velosio put in front of us a few different payroll software providers, and I probably sat through two other demos. We got quotes from them and they were high for our needs and how small we are. It was really a cost issue for us. That's when they came back with Greenshades and we did a demo. I picked Greenshades, yes for the cost, but also because it was efficient and effective. It seemed simple to me.
GS: It looked like something that you guys could set up pretty easily and use without a whole lot of investment in training?
MV: It just seemed to fit. I like simple. I mean, bells and whistles are great, but that complicates things. I think sometimes you get caught up in those bells and whistles when I basically just need something to run payroll. That's what I wanted - and it was cost effective.
Q: What was the implementations process like?
MV: I learned so much by doing it hands on with my consultant. I was under the assumption that we were just going to pull the data from SL and I would be happy-go-lucky and ready to start rock and rolling. And that was a misconception on my part, but maybe for the better being that, I learned so much. We did all our tax codes, all the benefits, all the deductions, etcetera. Now I have that in-depth knowledge of how to create my own codes if I need to.
I really think I became an expert in the in the product because I never felt alone, and I never felt rushed in the process as we set up. If I can throw out Jessee’s name because he was fantastic. He worked around my schedule with the BC implementation and training. We met twice a week for an hour, and he would give me the basic skills I needed so I could work on it on my own as well. But he was always there whenever I had a question and got back to me right away.
A nice thing with Greenshades was that I got as much time as I needed for a set price and that was important to me. We're on a budget and I knew what my budget was with Greenshades. It was fixed and I got as much time as I needed - and I really appreciate that. It was a fantastic experience when implementations could be extremely stressful.
Q: What benefits have you realized since the switch?
MV: I'm super happy where we're sitting. I can do payroll from anywhere now, I don't have to be sitting at my desk. I can do payroll at home on a weekend if I want to or make changes on the weekend since it's all real-time.
I also like that our employees can login and make their changes if they need to make changes. It flags me to approve the changes, but that's way less time consuming than them standing in my office to request a change. Now, when an employee jumps on to make any kind of change, it comes to me via e-mail. I approve it and I'm off and running. Also, employees can grab their pay stubs, which is super nice for me. Before, we were printing and mailing them, so it's nice that I don't have to do that. I also think people like having control. Those kinds of things are really the things our employees like to have control over their stuff, their business.
GS: That's awesome, especially the time and the freedom that comes with that too.
MV: The freedom absolutely. Then it’s also a savings for Greenshades to keep up on tax codes for me. We were doing some comparisons from SL to Greenshades, and there was a discrepancy between the taxes. I asked Jesse why, and he said, well, Greenshades is always constantly watching the taxes and changing them when necessary And we went through it, and Jessee reassured me that Greenshades was right, and he was right. Every time. It gave me peace of mind that Greenshades is right on it.
Q: Anything else?
MV: The thing is efficiency plus effectiveness equals productivity. And I would say that is hands down Greenshades right there.
Learn more about Farmers Union and their transition to Greenshades payroll by reading their full case study.