Slideshow 8 keys to making better technology platform decisions

  • April 27 2016, 2:44am EDT


As benefits delivery and administration become increasingly reliant on technology, employer-clients are looking for solutions and looking to their broker for help selecting products. Speaking at a recent industry conference, Frank Mengert, director of benefits technology at ebenefit Marketplace, shared eight items brokers should consider when helping their clients select a technology platform.

1. Flexibility

“You don’t want to be stuck in system that requires you to fit [clients] in a box,” Mengert says. Many brokers have aligned themselves with one technology vendor that they may have invested in and now their clients have to use that solution, he adds.

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2. Functionality

Brokers must consider how the system functions, Mengert says. Issues to consider include rules that go in to building a system, contingency plans and different benefit classes an employer may offer.

3. Enhancements

The tech world is constantly changing. “Enhancements in technology are important because I have seen technology … that looks the same and that is not good in this industry,” he explains. Therefore, brokers should ask vendors how often they are releasing enhancements, and if the vendor takes requests from users.

4. Experience

“Experience comes a long way. What [the vendor] did, where they came from, who is on their team” are all important questions, says Mengert. All those pieces tie into what a client will think of their broker because if something goes wrong, who will be blamed? The broker who brought the solution in, he says.

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5. Funding

While everyone is talking about defined contribution in health benefits, it hasn’t yet taken off the way everyone thought it would, Mengert says. As a result, a technology solution should not force anyone into a defined contribution model. “You need to have the ability to do defined benefit if that is what a [client] is comfortable with,” he says. A system should also be able to do both DB and DC, so a client has options

6. Connectivity

“A lot of systems out there say they can do [electronic data interface] and then they can’t,” Mengert says. As a result, it is important for brokers to test the system’s limitations.

7. Pricing

While pricing will “always drive the market,” Mengert says, one should consider “what does the pricing look like?” Questions to consider include: Is it a structured with a flat rate – or a la carte plus a base fee? Are there minimums? With technology, the sales cycle “is so much longer because everyone is looking at systems,” he says.

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8. Support

Who builds and maintains the technology system? Is that now going to be in-house? “Sometimes you buy in, but have to maintain [the system] in house,” he says. “If you have to hire tech people, now a $15,000 to $20,000 investment in a platform turns into a $100,000 to $150,000 investment.”