Rhonda Marcucci, founder of Gruppo Marcucci (GPM), is a respected industry, observer, speaker and author of articles on topics pertaining to the HR and Benefits Administration technology and outsourcing industry. For up-to-the-minute insights from industry conferences, follow Rhonda on Twitter.
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Lessons Learned from the Field
Posted on 12/27/2011
Introducing or replacing an employee benefits enrollment system is never a simple process, even with the right structure and processes in place and everyone doing exactly as they are supposed to do. Why? Because it’s nearly impossible to have everything—and everyone—functioning exactly as intended. For the human resource benefits manager, the best way to ensure a smooth implementation of a new system is to understand the realities of such an implementation and to manage your own expectations—and those of senior management and employees—accordingly.
Following is an abbreviated summary of 10 valuable lessons learned from the field prepared by Rhonda Marcucci. This information can be very useful to human resource managers overseeing the outsourcing or implementation of employee-benefits systems. The full article—including expanded commentary and specific recommendations regarding each lesson—appears in the December issue of Human Resource Executive®. Access and print the full article.
Lesson 1: I don’t care what the salesperson told you, implementation of new systems is hard! It requires significant time and attention from everyone involved in the selection, implementation and, to some degree, end use of the system.
Lesson 2: Things will go wrong and, when they do, it’s very possible the HR manager and project team are going to look bad in the eyes of the top management and employees.
Lesson 3: Don’t implement a new system at the same time key changes are being made to benefits offerings. With two major changes under way, the likelihood of problems increases.
Lesson 4: Build in sufficient time for the process — including the request for proposal, site visits, review and selection, contracting, set-up, testing, training and implementation.
Lesson 5: Define what will constitute “success” for your company before implementing solutions. Spend time with key company stakeholders to clearly state the who, what, why, when and where elements of all important operations.
Lesson 6: Don’t encourage service providers to expand the scope of service or technology beyond their areas of expertise — or do something they wouldn’t normally agree to do — just because your company wants it. When you do, you’re inviting additional problems or a decline in service in other areas as the service provider scrambles to effectively support an area for which they are not well-suited.
Lesson 7: Don’t judge for at least 90 to 120 days after a system goes live. It will take at least this long for the new system, service provider and support team to settle in and function as they should. Implement well in advance of critical deadlines to give everyone plenty of time to get acclimated to the new system and service provider (see Lesson 4).
Lesson 8: Remember when mistakes are made, the mark of an effective team is to 1) acknowledge the mistake or admit responsibility if it’s yours, 2) identify and implement a fix/solution, 3) identify controls to minimize potential for a repeat, and 4) move on!
Lesson 9: Don’t burn out service-provider-account representatives; you need these people and you want them to be your champions. Wearing them down or out will result in a new person being assigned who will have to “learn” you and your company.
Lesson 10: If significant problems remain 90-plus days beyond the introduction of a new system, don’t look to jump to a new service provider right away. Remember, this should be a partnership and good partnerships require strong communication.
Gruppo Marcucci (GPM), a division of Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., provides outsourcing intelligence and associated consulting to stakeholders in the Benefits and HR Technology & Outsourcing industry. Our in-depth understanding of the service provider market and our vast experience sourcing and implementing solutions is key to our clients achieving full operational success.
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