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New application service providers are helping businesses manage human resources online

Cardstore.com Inc., an Emeryville (Calif.) online retailer with about 35 employees, is in a hiring frenzy. So you might expect to find the company's human resources manager, Rhonda Mae Botello, buried in forms for payroll, health coverage, taxes, and the like. She's busy all right, but not with paperwork. When a new worker comes on board, Botello simply logs on to the Web, surfs over to eBenefits.com, and enters the new name and start date. The system spits out an I.D. code and password. Then the new hire logs on to the site, fills out forms online, and selects benefits by completing a series of dialog boxes. Botello approves the choices and ships the package to the insurance company and other providers. "This frees HR up to focus on the things that matter," she says. "Like more hiring."

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