*This article is an outline of a previous webinar with Mark Stelzner. You can view the full webinar below!
Like people, no two organizations are the same. They are complex entities with unique personalities, varied beliefs, specific incentives, and (often unspoken) operational realities. Despite the uniqueness of companies, the RFP – a prescriptive, arms-length, requirements-centric tool – is often employed as a common, ‘one-size-fits-all’ way of selecting your benefits technology provider.
So how do we reconcile the imperfect engine of the RFP against the need to secure a long-term, sustainable relationship between clients and their providers? The answer is “fit,” that magical feeling when the stars align, and a technology provider becomes a partner, not a vendor. In this article, Mark Stelzner from IA will outline five steps you can take to help ensure a true match with benefits technology.
Mark also joined us for a webinar presentation with these tips – you can view the full webinar below!
1.) Know Thyself
Socrates was onto something when he coined the now famous phrase, “know thyself”. How can you expect to find your perfect technology match if you don’t even understand the true needs and wants of your organization? While key decision makers might have answers on tap for general reference, it is always best to get everyone in the same room and have open, honest conversations about the true current state of the company.
In order to find a technology provider that addresses who you truly are as a unique organization, gather answers to these crucial questions:
- What do we value?
- How do we treat our customers?
- How do we treat our providers?
- How do we talk to one another?
- How do we feel about change?
- When do we work?
- How do we measure success?
Is everyone on the same page about the answers to these questions? Do the answers to these questions match the current state of the company, or are they more aspirational in nature? There are no right or wrong answers – but establishing an honest representation up front will reduce friction throughout the partner selection process.
2.) Talk To Your Employees
Another great way to gauge the current state of your organization and gather valuable feedback is to ask the primary parties your decisions will impact – your employees! Benefits assessments are valuable tools that can help you gather both qualitative and quantitative data, which can help steer decision making, prioritization, and potential changes in the future.
One of the easiest and most common ways to gather this data is to conduct an employee benefits survey. The survey should be designed to be easy to use, feel like an interview with the participants, and encourage transparency by securely and anonymously capturing individual responses. Upon completion, data should be thoroughly reviewed, including segmented layers such as lines of business, tenure, level, and other helpful demographic data. This allows you to identify key trends, capture sentiment, and prioritize opportunities for improvement moving forward.
3.) Be Transparent
Are you considering multiple providers? Great! Is integration a primary decision driver for your selection process? No problem! Despite any preconceived benefits of pitting providers against each other by hiding important information, transparency is always the best policy when it comes to finding your perfect technology partner.
Are there specific features you are looking for in a technology provider? Tell them. Do you have a specific, strategic outcome in mind or a material pain point with one of your populations? Tell them. Do you have issues with your current technology provider that you are looking to address? You guessed it: tell them.
The more open you are upfront about what you are looking for in a provider, the easier it will be to identify that perfect partner that can address all of your needs. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve and create space for an open, honest conversation.
Information To Share To Foster Transparency:
- Engagement/survey results
- Your EVP (employee value proposition → whether factual or aspirational)
- The competitive provider landscape
- Capabilities missing from your current solution/provider
- Your selection criteria
- Your internal readiness
4.) Flip The Script
Remember those pressing questions that were reviewed internally in step 2? Well, now it’s time to flip the script and ask those same questions to potential benefits service providers.
As a reminder, here are the questions you should be asking:
- What do you value?
- How do you treat our customers?
- How do you treat our providers?
- How do you talk to one another?
- How do you feel about change?
- When do you work?
- How do you measure success?
Establishing alignment across these key areas will ensure a mutually beneficial relationship between your organization and your technology partner.
5.) Find The Right Fit
The final step in the technology selection process it to assess for fit. Chemistry matters and the decision-making process should involve more than a quick review and a number. Provider churn can be a costly and time-consuming problem, so taking the time to thoroughly vet prospective partners is a worthy investment.
Your final fit assessment should include the following qualitative and quantitative inputs as a part of your overall selection process:
- Financial Health of the Provider
- Operational Health of the Provider
- Executive Stability/Turnover
- SLAs (service level agreements)
- Incentive Plans for Key Personnel
- Glassdoor Reviews
- Resource Models (Dedicated/Designated)
- References (Formal/Informal)
- Client Forums/Customer Base
- LinkedIn Profiles for Key Personnel
With this thorough selection process, you can test for fit and only proceed with potential partners who truly meet your criteria. You’ll benefit from a formal proposal that is personalized to your needs, offering greater value, and ensuring you’ll be paired with a team that matches your unique personality.
Are you ready to find your benefits technology match?
Make a date with PlanSource! Contact us today for a free consultation and demo of our top-rated benefits technology platform.