On the surface, outsourcing seems like a pretty straightforward concept — you pay someone else to manage or manufacture something you used to do. But when it comes to the “how” of outsourcing, there are almost endless possibilities.
When you’re considering benefits administration outsourcing for your organization, it’s important to understand that there isn’t just one way to outsource. Different models work well with different organizations, so you’ll need to outline your strategy and goals before you pick a partner. Here are some options to consider.
This comes close to hiring new people to help you tackle new projects, but stops short of bringing them on as full employees. Consider the skills and knowledge in your department, and identify where there are gaps. When you need specific people with specific skills, you can bring them on in a consultant capacity, without having to add full- or part-time staff. This is also a good option if you’re bogged down in administrative tasks.
Open enrollment, wellness initiatives and other regular but specialized projects can put pressure on your team and keep you from looking at benefits administration as a strategic part of human resources management. This model brings in another team to take the burden of organizing and administering the project; over time, this team can become a reliable and trusted partner that can provide strategic guidance on these projects. You’ll still oversee results and problem-solving.
Processes are another business function that can eat up your strategic time, so consider outsourcing them (often known as out-tasking) to free up people hours and other resources. Customer service, claims management and other tasks are ideal for this route. This will involve a service agreement, and you’ll still keep oversight of processes and outcomes. This model is often fairly flexible, and the contracts are generally straightforward and can be ended easily.
A managed services provider takes on all responsibility of handling certain business functions, including problem-solving and strategic thinking. At the same time, the vendor will integrate into the organization, in some cases working side-by-side with your team. This is one of the highest levels of outsourcing, and can bring advantages such as high-level strategic management and a strong partner who knows your business as well as you do.
At Winston Benefits, we've seen that the managed services model allows for long-term success and continuity. Our team has found that benefits administration outsourcing is most successful when it's based on a long-term relationship with a vendor, leading to the best results for employees.
No matter what outsourcing model you choose, you’ll need to do your due diligence as you do when picking any vendor. In addition, communication is key. Letting your outsourcing partner know any time something important changes, such as a key strategy, personnel or goal, is vital to making the partnership work. Finally, remembering that your outsourcing partners are the experts at what they do is crucial. After all, that’s why you picked them.
Winston Benefits is an HR solutions company that helps businesses enhance and optimize employee benefit plans, enrich compensation and rewards programs, and save money on benefits communication, enrollment and administration. Contact us to learn more.