3 Steps to Streamline the Benefits Technology Selection Process - Part 1

3 Steps to Streamline the Benefits Technology Selection Process - Part 1

Many HR and benefits leaders can relate to the following two scenarios:

In the first scenario, you’re ready to make a change in how you run your benefits program and are looking to invest in new benefits management technology to support that change.

Making this major purchase for your organization can be overwhelming, with everyone looking to you to lead the charge, and the factors to consider in your search seem endless. Then, there’s the actual evaluation process, and you know that you’ll have to gain buy-in from other key stakeholders within your organization.

In the second scenario, you’ve already done the hard work of selecting a new benefits technology partner and have been utilizing your new platform and services for a little over a year. You want to make sure that you've made the right choice—that your technology partner is the right fit after all.

Each scenario requires a thoughtful, comprehensive review of your current systems. But while this process may seem daunting, there's a way to navigate it with confidence and ease.  

This two-part series will cover the steps HR and benefits leaders can take to make sure their benefits technology will do what they need it to do: optimize the significant investment their organization has made in employee benefits.

In Part 1, we’ll discuss the “how”—how you can identify clear priorities in your own benefits strategy, and then how to navigate buying new benefits technology or evaluating your current technology vendor. In Part 2, we’ll discuss some key ways to showcase the “why” to gain internal buy-in.

Let's get started.

Step 1: Taking an Internal Look at Your Benefits Program

Have you ever considered auditing your benefits program?

With the time and attention (and money) that’s invested in employee benefits, it’s valuable to take an annual look at how you’re optimizing that investment. But it’s also a vital step in streamlining the technology evaluation process. To know where you are currently with your own program puts the power in your hands—the power to determine what you want to prioritize and the tools you need to get where you want to be.

For example, when you conduct your audit, you may identify key gaps in your benefits communication approach that are keeping your employees from realizing the full value of what you're offering. And you realize that additional tools and resources are needed to fill those gaps.

So, to conduct your audit, we recommend using the Benefits Maturity Model. It helps you take a closer look at each area of your benefits strategy – Plan Fit, Team Efficiency, Plan Efficiency and Employee Engagement – and then define areas of improvement to outline an actionable path forward.

Here are examples of some considerations you’ll work through in your audit to help you discover how well your benefits strategy aligns today with your goals for the future.   

Plan Fit Considerations:
  • How much flexibility does my team have to expand plan options?
  • Are those plans standardized or can employees select the different coverage options to meet their needs?
  • Do we have tools that drive recommendations and support best plan match?
Team Efficiency Considerations:
  • How much time does my team spend on administration versus strategy?
  • Are we able to consistently introduce new initiatives that drive employee satisfaction with their benefits?
Plan Efficiency Considerations:
  • How well are we able to monitor costs and make adjustments to control them?
  • Do we rely largely on external partners to monitor costs or do we have on-demand visibility?
Employee Engagement Considerations:
  • How well do benefits work for our organization in terms of talent attraction and retention?
  • Are employees aware of and do they understand all of their benefit options?

For a complete guide to evaluating your current benefits strategy, download The Roadmap to Insight-Driven Benefits Management.

Step 2: Simplify Your Tech Vendor Evaluation

Now that you’ve established clear priorities for your benefits strategy, the next step is to turn your attention to auditing your current technology vendor and finding the right partner.  

But with so many vendors in the HR landscape, how do you know which one is right for your organization? Or whether your partner is the right fit?

Simply asking the right questions can help you uncover the insight you need to determine if the vendor is/will be a true partner in your success. So, to get you started, here are four key areas of consideration in the benefits technology evaluation process, along with a probing question to ask your current or prospective technology provider.

1. Data Transparency 

Personalization in employee benefits is critical now and will continue to be the way of the future. No one needs to be reminded that health care costs are rising, but part of the answer that problem is to help individuals access the right level of coverage with the right mix of products and programs. To do so, you need to have the power to not only access your benefits data, but truly have transparency into the insights that data brings.

How can you help me and my broker design plans that meet the needs of my workforce?

2. Experience

Employees need to become savvier health care consumers, and that puts pressure on you to help them better understand their options during the enrollment experience. Your benefits technology partner should be able to deliver that consumer-centric experience so that employees have a tailor-made experience guiding them to the best buying decision.

How can your platform help provide my employees a consumer-centric enrollment experience?

3. Communication

Benefits are complex. That’s why it’s crucial to have a partner with the tools to bring clarity to the complex, and helps you engage and inform your employees year-round on what their benefits actually mean for them.

How can you help me communicate benefit options to optimize employee participation and utilization?

4. Administration

You need to feel confident that your technology partner is there for you throughout the year when you have to contend with all of the resulting information from open enrollment and manage any processes that occur outside of open enrollment. A good technology company should make that far less burdensome, and help you free up time to spend on strategy.

As a partner, how can alleviate administrative burden in the face of growing complexity?

These represent four main areas, but there are of course many other variables to consider, like implementation methodology, security protocols, platform performance, customer service and so forth.

And while the thought of an audit may send you into a cold sweat, evaluating your technology partner (or prospective partner) is crucial to ensuring your organization and employees can make the most of your benefits investment.

To make that investigative work even easier, we’ve assembled all of the resources you need in the Definitive Guide to Benefits Management Technology

Stay tuned for Part 2!