Articles — Feb 24, 2021
What to Expect: Implementation and Launch of Your New Benefits Administration Solution
In part 2 of this series (and in case you missed it, click here to view part 1) we shared a few tips and checklists for identifying your organization’s benefits administration needs as you start your search for a new provider. Once you have identified the provider who best meets your needs and have contracted with them, the next steps in your journey are the implementation and launch of your new solution.
As you move into this final phase, we’ve outlined what you can expect from your provider during implementation and shared a few tips for launching your new solution to your workforce. Check it out below.
Implementing your new solution
After you have contracted with your new provider, they will work with you to kick off implementation. As part of the kick-off, you will both meet to review and confirm your scope of services and implementation timeline, and your provider will set expectations for you regarding the roles and responsibilities of their team.
Following this, your provider will gather requirements, build and configure your site, and finally, work with you to test the new solution prior to the launch. Learn more about each of these implementation phases.
During this phase of implementation, your provider will give you a set of documents to gather your demographic data and integration and plan design requirements. Documenting these details is crucial for your provider to build the system according to the needs of your organization and operate in the ongoing environment.
The data and files your provider will outline for migration will likely include the following:
- Employee demographic data: This will be a one-time conversion and ongoing file and will typically be migrated over to your new provider from your current HRIS.
- Dependent demographic data: This will be a one-time conversion and will be migrated over from your incumbent provider or carriers.
- Employee and dependent benefit data: This will be a one-time conversion and will also be migrated over from your incumbent provider or carriers.
- Historical employee and dependent demographic and benefit data: This will be necessary to provide your new vendor if ACA support is included in your solution.
- ACA Accumulator file: This will be essential if hours tracking support is needed.
- Beneficiary import file: This will be needed to load current beneficiaries into your new system.
Similarly, the integrations the provider will identify to set up may include the following:
- Payroll: Gather and provide your current payroll specifications, pay schedules and deduction codes to ensure your new solution seamlessly integrates with your payroll.
- HRIS: Obtain and provide your current HRIS specifications and files for mapping.
Prepare for your integrations with your benefit carriers and any SSO (single sign-on) connections by giving your provider your current carrier and vendor contacts who will provide the specifications needed for the custom files and SSO connections. In addition, discuss with your provider the timeline for all files and connections allotting enough time for carriers to test and for discrepancy management.
You and your provider will work together to review and finalize all documentation they have compiled, fill out any additional areas, and outline any custom requests. Once these steps are complete, you will sign off on the requirements, and your provider will move on to the next phase of implementation.
Site building and configuration
The next phase in the process is for your provider to build out and configure your custom site. During this phase, their team will be implementing your site based on the details and information previously provided in the requirements gathering phase. Your implementation team may contact you at various points throughout the phase to confirm the site build progress is on track with your go-live date and ask any clarifying questions regarding your requirements.
Testing your solution
Once your provider has built and configured the site to your requirements, the final step is thorough testing of the solution. It’s essential that both your implementation team and your own team test the site to ensure everything is functioning and presenting as expected. To do this, your provider will set up a User Acceptance Test (UAT) plan and process for you to follow. This will allow you to confirm all data has been migrated over, integrations are functioning smoothly, and all features are displaying as expected. Once you have completed the UAT and signed off on the solution, the site is ready for launch.
Launching and communicating your solution
After you have officially gone live with your new solution, the final step is to communicate the new enrollment platform to your employees. Your goal is to encourage employees to visit the platform not just during open enrollment, but year-round to help them stay engaged with their benefits. To ease the move to the new platform, aim to create clear and concise communications introducing it to your employees. Here are three tips to consider:
- Keep it brief: Ensure that your communications about the new platform are thorough, but brief. Precision and brevity will help employees both read and understand your message easily.
- Leverage multiple distribution channels: In addition to emailing employees, text messages, virtual meetings, videos or your internal employee engagement platform may also be engaging ways to communicate information about the new platform. Plus, if employees miss the communication on one platform, they still have a chance to receive the information via another.
- Communicate regularly: To encourage year-round usage of the platform, it’s essential to communicate about the platform year-round, too. After the introduction, consider highlighting a different feature or resource available on the platform monthly to encourage employees to explore it.
We hope you found this three-part series helpful as you consider a new benefits administration provider, prepare for the launch of a new solution, and every step in between. In case you missed it, check out part 1 and part 2 now!
Learn more about Tracey Eisman of bswift and Kate Taylor of Benefit Technology Resources on LinkedIn.