Switching Benefits Administration Platforms
Choosing the wrong HR platform
Picking the wrong benefits administration and HR platform is incredibly frustrating. Whether your vendor isn’t providing the necessary amount of support or the price is outpacing value, considering a switch can seem intimidating, but many brokers have been in your shoes.
The experience of not having a platform live up to your expectations can make some brokers wary of seeking another option, but inertia can make a bad situation worse.
Remember that before purchasing your current platform, you saw enough value in getting your agency online to embark on and complete the buying process. That value still exists for your agency and your clients, but you may need to find a different vendor to help you find it.
“The value of having an HR platform still exists for your agency and your clients, but you may need a different vendor to help you find it.”
How to determine if your HR platform is up to par
First, you will need to evaluate whether a switch is necessary. Here are a few things to consider in regards to whether your current system is the right one for your agency.
Under a per-employee-per-month pricing format, you may see costs grow faster than value. A flat-fee or wholesale arrangement can be better, especially if you have many groups or several fairly large ones. The PEPM model creates a disincentive for agencies putting all groups onto the system, because the price goes up with every employee addition.
As a result, brokers don’t get the full value of their investment. Most agencies adopt a platform to streamline their processes, but if you end up only moving the groups that demand technology, the ROI is minimized. In comparison, a wholesale model incentivizes you to get all your groups online. This allows you to take advantage of efficiency gains across your book of business, resulting in a higher return on your investment.
Was the platform’s training effective? Did the vendor build out your caseload, and was the process efficient? Lastly, even the best technology has glitches. When these occur, how responsive is your software vendor. Do you have a dedicated point of contact? If you are consistently underwhelmed by your platform’s support team, this is a big red flag.
How important is it to you that your platform is early to market with new features and compliance items? Benefits administration is an evolving industry and you want your software to keep up. Some examples include 1094-C/1095-C reporting, overtime regulations and robust mobile experience. This is especially important to consider if you were an early adopter of technology. Has your platform grown with the industry?
Clients online–or not
If your clients aren’t online after a reasonable roll-out time, this is a big sign you may need to switch platforms. Your vendor should have conducted effective training on how to bring clients online, even tech-limited groups. If your vendor isn’t helping you get your clients online, you simply aren’t reaping the return on your investment.
Technology often has glitches, but how does your vendor solve them? Do you have easy access to your support team? Are there effective online resources to help you learn new ways to use the platform? If you are still feeling in the dark with your platform after open enrollment, that may be a sign that your vendor is not providing enough resources.
If your clients are online, are they satisfied with the platform? If users are struggling to review or update their benefits, they will continue to rely on you for tasks they would be able to accomplish on their own with other platforms. Again, there will be a learning curve, but if after open enrollment you feel like using the platform is a challenge, you may want to consider whether you have the right one.
Steps to switching HR platforms
If you’ve decided your current platform just isn’t up to par, here’s how to turn the situation around.
STEP 1: Evaluate other options
Because you’ve already been through this process once, this step should be comparatively shorter than before. You will want to spend some time researching your options and compiling a list of vendors to compare. We highly recommend asking others brokers for recommendations.
It is important to identify your priorities before speaking to vendors. In a circumstance where you’re switching platforms, this is even more crucial. Outline where you think your current platform is falling short, and be sure to ask product specialists all of your questions during the demo process.
Your experience with your current platform should give you a clear vision of what you want and need from your software. Whether it’s a certain feature you absolutely need, robust customer support, or a better pricing platform, this time, you’ll have the background knowledge to make an even more informed decision.
STEP 2: Visualize the new timeline
Again, if you’ve been through this process once, you know what to expect. We generally recommend allocating up to 18 weeks for the entirety of the buying process, though the evaluation process may be shorter the second time around.
However, you will also have to consider an additional block of time for ending your existing contract and disengaging with your current platform. You will need to get some information from your future vendor to fully visualize your timeline, but you can sketch out a rough outline before doing so.
Once you have selected a new vendor, sign on and begin the contracting process. Don’t delay, as you will want to begin transitioning as soon as possible to maximize value.
STEP 3: Begin transitioning from the old system to the new system
During demos, you will especially want to ask vendors what this step will look like. With BerniePortal, our Client Success team handles all buildouts, whether you’re new to benefits software or switching to our platform. The first step is developing a transition plan with our team, prioritizing clients who need to be moved first and how many need to be moved total. Our team then pulls the information from your existing platform and loads it into BerniePortal.
STEP 4: Cancel with your current vendor
Once you and your groups are transitioned, cancel with the vendor from which you are changing. From an ideal cost standpoint, you would see one contract end and the next vendor’s begin the following day, but that is generally not realistic. If the new vendor is desirable enough to change, the opportunity cost of not switching before your current contract is up is too high to wait.
Bought the Wrong HR Platform?
Picking the wrong platform is incredibly frustrating and can leave brokers wary of seeking out another benefits administration platform. The value of getting your agency online still exists, but you way need to find a different vendor to help you find it. We put together this guide to help agencies work through the process of switching platform vendors.
Common questions & answers
Why do we recommend doing it this way?
If you tell the current vendor you’re leaving before switching, you risk seeing your service level decrease immediately, and transitioning could become more difficult.
How long does the process of switching HR platforms generally take?
This will depend on how many clients you have with the current vendor. At BerniePortal, we’ve seen situations where the agency has zero clients on the current platform, and switching is a breeze. The more clients a broker has online, the longer it can take.
When is the best time to begin switching HR platforms?
The best time to sign a contract with a new vendor is outside of the fourth quarter. Add some new clients to the system first and get comfortable with it, then switch the clients you have on the old platform to the new platform during open enrollment. This is the easiest time to make the switch for existing clients, as employees need to make elections and update their information