Businessolver Blog

7 Questions HR Should ask their Brokers and Advisors

7 Questions HR Should ask their Brokers and Advisors
Posted on Friday, November 10, 2023 by Sherri Bockhorst

Choosing a new benefits administration technology provider is a big decision. Here’s what HR should look at when going out to RFP for a benefits technology vendor. 

Employee benefits account for nearly a third of total compensation according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are the top line expense item second to pay. Benefits are also the number two reason employees stay or leave an organization. There’s a lot at stake in employee benefits—from your bottom line to your employees’ wellbeing. Having the right technology in place can help you manage costs, build effective employee engagement, and save you time and energy. 

After you decide to go out to bid for a new ben admin, how do you start looking for the “right” benefits technology partner?  

The first logical step is to work with your broker, advisor, or consultant. These partners are your key resource for a reason—they’re experts in the industry and can help you work within your organization’s constraints while considering larger objectives, like employment and economic landscapes. More importantly, brokers can help you establish the right relationships with your technology providers.  

Here are some questions to help you structure a productive discussion with your broker. 

1. Which technology providers can provide the services we want to outsource? 

Firstly, you need to decide what tasks you’re willing to keep in-house and which ones you’re planning to outsource to a new benefits administrator.  

It only makes sense that your new technology partner should deliver the services you need, so you don’t end up paying for services you don’t need. Work with your broker to evaluate a technology partner that can support your complex needs based on your preferred model. 

Insourcing model: Most, if not all of the benefits administration work is the sole responsibility of the organization, from enrollment to customer service. This model is typically run through existing human capital management (HCM) or enterprise resource planning tools. While it can be cost-effective, it’s often inefficient for workforces of all sizes and complexity. 

Outsourcing model: People, process, and technology management are handled by a third-party solution provider. While a larger cost up front, this model drives ROI via efficiencies, robust services and service delivery, and scalable products.  

2. What are the vendor’s core focus areas? 

Brokers can help you understand what products and services vendors are truly selling. In your discussion with your broker, they’ll be able to give you the “meat and potatoes” from each of the vendor options available to you. Ideally, a vendor that says they specialize in health and welfare benefits administration will be an expert on providing technology for health and welfare benefits administration. Any additional features or enhancements should be explained as an added bonus.  

Questions to ask your broker might include: 

  • What should we consider our “non-negotiables” or table stakes for a benefits technology vendor? 
  • What do we need our vendor to specialize in? 
  • What does innovation look like for our company and what should we look for in our partner? 
  • How can we ensure a culture fit between us and a technology vendor? 

3. What does the technology vendor’s product roadmap look like? 

Agility is one of the most important factors for any technology or software company. Being an agile organization means adapting quickly, efficiently, and innovatively to our rapidly changing world. Sure, every tech company has a roadmap, with planned updates, enhancements, and features. But companies that have a lot of stakeholders are typically locked into that roadmap for a given amount of time. And it often takes a proverbial “act of Congress” to add or change anything on the roadmap. Agility means being able to pivot and reinvent a solution to meet a need, in near real time.  

When ChatGPT broke onto the scene, AI became the hottest topic all over the world. Innovation shouldn’t have to wait for the boardroom to catch up. The ability to be agile allows a ben admin to build technology that can personalize customer experiences for higher employee engagement, improve support, make your job easier, and ultimately, save your organization money.  

A broker should be able to tell you if a potential vendor has a cutting-edge vision for their solution for the next few months, or even years. They should also be able to tell you which administrators are truly innovating, and which ones are merely copying ideas from other ben admins.  

4. Do they have a good reputation? 

Reviews are first thing we look at when shopping for anything—enterprise-level technology should be no exception. Ask your broker about the general reputations of all the partners you’re considering. Then ask for real feedback they’ve heard from real clients.  

Here’s what you should ask in your RFP to determine a vendor’s reputation: 

  • Do they have clients willing to provide independent references? 
  • What’s their NPS score and what have they done to focus on building that reputation? 
  • What does their service delivery framework look like? 
  • What recognition have they earned in the past two years for product, culture, etc.? 
  • What does their industry expert bench look like?

5. What’s their approach to benefits AI? 

The biggest change recently in our industry has been the rise of AI. Regardless of how any individual feels about it, AI is here to stay, and will likely be the biggest disruptor of the workplace since the invention of the personal computer itself. Businessolver’s data shows that with AI and personalization in play, benefits engagement can increase up to 19%. That’s a big lift, but it’s also indicative of the power our AI brings to the table for our clients.  

When evaluating AI as part of your benefits technology RFP, you and your broker should make sure you’re getting into the specifics with potential partners. It’s easy to get distracted by all the potential AI can have for HR, but what about the actual results?  

Questions you and your broker should consider: 

  • How long their AI has been on the market? 
  • Is their AI proprietary or custom-labeled from a third party? 
  • Do they have an AI product roadmap? 
  • How is AI leveraged to support the employee experience? 
  • How is the AI trained and what security measures does the vendor have in place? 

6. How well do they manage growth? 

If you’re an organization that is constantly changing, growing, or acquiring, then this is a critical question for you to ask your broker. Can the potential technology vendors handle acquisitions? How complex can we get? Do they consistently update and upgrade in the interest of their clients?  

No organization is truly “future-proof,” but technology should be flexible enough to expand based on your needs. Understanding what your future technology partner can do to help you grow as your needs grow should be a key consideration. 

7. What service level agreements (SLAs) do they commit to? 

Sure, it’s important to know the kind of service you can expect and get a general idea of what the technology promises to do. But honestly, an SLA is the bare minimum a ben admin can do for you. What really counts in a true technology partner is knowing that your employees (and you) are going to be taken care of.  

Ask your broker if they’re certain that the technology partner can go above and beyond SLAs to deliver service that delights everyone in your organization.