Does the word ‘implementation’ send chills down your spine? If so, rest assured you are not alone.
Implementing a new benefits or HR technology system can be a long, involved process, but it doesn’t have to be painful. With a solid strategy in place and realistic expectations from the beginning, it is possible to have an implementation experience that doesn’t make you regret everything.
If you’re wondering how implementation can possibly be painless or where to get started, we’re here to help. Put your best foot forward by following these five steps for HR tech implementation success!
1.) Set Your Goals—Choose your benefits technology platform with these goals in mind.
A year from now, how would you define success for your benefits technology implementation? And what HR and organizational goals do you want this new platform to help you achieve this year, next year and five years from now?
Setting the organizational goals you hope to achieve through tech will help define the ‘must have’ features and help you pick the perfect tech partner.
Cloud-based is a must-have in 2019. You should look for software that allows your staff and workforce the ability to access it outside of their office/desk.Chose a software that will work from anywhere and on any device; such as a computer, laptop, tablet and smartphone. Just as your workforce wants to select and shop for benefits from their phones, so does your HR staff. You also should look for software where their upgrades and maintenance are automatically included at no additional cost. Dealing with version control could mean another implementation for your HR team later on.
Your new technology must be easy to use, with quick self-help tools. Choose software that doesn’t need a detailed owners guide. With how quickly technology changes in the benefits industry, make sure you select a platform that is easy to use and support. If you need a manual to perform tasks, then that software is not designed to support your growing HR workforce. Benefits software should be built and managed in a way that is easy to navigate to and find exactly what you are looking for. Quick self-help tools are key. If the tech partner provides you a word/pdf guide, this most likely means that they are not advancing fast enough to support your companies growth. Think about it—when was the last time you read your user guide for your cell phone?
Benefits technology that’s both deep and broad is like a unicorn – it doesn’t exist. A broad approach offers a more unified HCM approach that packages everything together under one umbrella. Alternatively, do you want a best-in-class solution that really knows benefits and that ties everything together via an API? It’s very difficult to be a master of all things; the broad approach is usually pretty shallow, versus companies that go much deeper in a particular area but are more narrowly focused.
As you’re evaluating your technology options, ask yourself: what is it that you need? What are your pain points? What are you trying to solve? That’s what you look for to determine which approach is right for you.
1.) Do Your Discovery Homework—A great implementation starts with great communication!
Take into consideration how your benefits strategy is going to evolve in the future. Are you looking for more data and metrics related to benefits spending, adoption and impact on employee satisfaction? What capabilities are you missing from your current systems and what processes are still manual? And how was your last OE experience?
From there, list your current challenges. Do any of these apply?
- Employee engagement/knowledge of benefits
- Handling employee calls
- Employee location transfers
- Dependent verification tracking
- EOI integrations with carriers
- Multiple payroll feed transparency
- Admin access and security
- Customized reporting
Do some organizational soul searching and don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions! What’s unique about your company/benefits package? How many different eligibility groups/classifications do you have? Are you experiencing high growth and/or turnover? Will there be any mergers, acquisitions or divestitures in the near future? Describe/define your employer brand—why do employees join your company? How important are your benefits programs and perks to current/prospective employees? How important is the customization aspect in describing benefit programs to employees?
Finally, analyze your current data processes and consider how they could be improved. How are benefit elections being updated with all your carriers? How are you handling the EOI process with carriers? How are your keeping HR, payroll and benefits in sync? Do you have visibility into your data, such as a dashboard where you can see the status of your integrations with 3rd party systems? Do you worry about missed payroll deductions relating to arrears calculations or employees that might be on an unpaid LOA?
3.) Understand Your Team—Ensure that your HR goals are aligned with organizational goals.
Take stock of your HR team. How many individuals work on managing and maintaining your benefit plans, answer benefits questions and would require training on how to use the new software? How many locations do you have where you have an individual/representative at that office responsible for some aspect of managing the benefits program? How interested is your HR team in consolidating the number of partners/software solutions that serve your organization (e.g. COBRA, HSA/FSA/HRA, etc.)?
Additionally, how would you describe your team’s ability to handle data discrepancies, urgent coverage resolutions and overall accuracy of data between all systems? How confident are you that your carrier invoices are accurate (i.e. the right people are covered and you are paying the correct amounts each month)? And how would you rate your team’s ability to handle tasks like EOI decisions, live event approvals and new hire processing?
Examine your workforce. How distributed are your employees? Are they asking for mobile tools and tech? Would some of them still prefer a call center option? Are the dependents on your plan truly eligible? Now during this changing process is a good time to consider ineligible dependents.
4.) Know The Best Practices—Everything you wanted to ask about benefits technology implementation (but were too afraid to ask!)
What’s your onboarding approach? Choose the right launch style that will fit within your available implementation timeframe.
After you’ve considered the best implementation approach, consider how much time will be required from the various teams that will need to be involved. Your HR team will need to be pretty hands-on, while other teams, like payroll and finance, will only be required for ad hoc projects.
Additionally, be sure to prep your documentation in advance. High priority documents include benefits guides, carrier summaries, employee communications and total monthly premiums. Lower priority documentation includes policy or plan numbers, carrier technical contracts, eligibility waiting periods, benefits class descriptions, location lists and payroll calendar.
5.) Define Your Implementation Strategy—Change is hard!
Remember—change is hard for employees, managers and executives alike.
Anytime you implement a new technology software, remember that you should be embracing change into your HR staff life. Keep an open mind and be open to enhancing your current processes. Don’t simply later old processes into your new platform—this is a huge mistake that happens all too often. Instead, focus on how to streamline processes and remove any manual procedures that are time-consuming and can lead to errors.
In the early stages of the launch, focus on getting “a network of champions” fully invested in the new platform so they can mentor others on how to use the tools to their benefit. This group of evangelists should accurately represent the makeup of your organization and include your top performers.
You want people who are able to work horizontally across the organization and who have good communication and networking skills. It’s most important not that early adopters adopt, but that influencers adopt; getting those folks on board early is critical.
Focus on the end results. Successful implementation requires that you establish and communicate realistic expectations for your management team and employees.
For more tips on how to plan and execute and successful HR tech implementation, sign up for our full webinar, presented by Shannon Osborne, PlanSource AVP of Operational Sales Support and self-proclaimed implementation guru.
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