The Benefits Challenge
The University of Texas System (UTS) was having ongoing discussions to evolve its benefit program as the team desired to be a model for higher education benefits on the national level as well as deliver a better experience for its members. However, the aging, legacy mainframe enrollment system that it had relied on for 26 years hindered the ability to be more innovative in its approach and was being decommissioned.
After receiving a phone call that the mainframe would be removed within a three-year period, Laura Chambers, Executive Director, Office of Employee Benefits at UTS made the decision to move forward with the modernization project.
The Benefits Solution
Following a rigorous RFP process, UTS ultimately chose to outsource, selecting Benefitfocus as its partner to modernize its eligibility and enrollment system with an approach to implement its 14 academic and medical institutions in three phases. The cloud-based, software-as-a-service model of the Benefitfocus platform enabled UTS to configure and scale its system to accommodate 16 separate instances – one for each institution along with system administration and the Office of Employee Benefits.
The Office of Employee Benefits administers the retiree and COBRA billing and enrollment functions on behalf of the 14 institutions. The intuitive user interface and the dedicated Benefitfocus customer success team allowed for easier knowledge transfer as 60 percent of the Employee Benefits staff became eligible for retirement within a year of implementation. Two staff members also had the opportunity to take on the more strategic role of data analysts as the Benefitplace solution automated a significant amount of the benefits-related tasks.
UTS made the decision to take a phased approach to implementing Benefitplace to better align with resource availability and competing projects across its institutions. This also enabled the UTS and Benefitfocus teams to apply lessons learned throughout for a more successful implementation and take into account certain nuances that varied across institutions.
For example, academic institutions were on a nine-month payroll cycle, while the Health Science Centers were not. Additionally, there are nine different payroll platforms in use across the institutions so consideration for each platform was necessary.
Starting in May 2018, UTS and Benefitfocus partnered to configure and test the system to ensure each institution’s business rules were enforced and teams were trained appropriately. The teams had a tightly aligned testing schedule and more complete training materials for the timely launch of annual enrollment for all UTS employees and retirees in July 2020.
More than 85,000 benefit elections were made during the annual enrollment and 80.7 percent of members gave the system a ranking of 7 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10.
To learn how Benefitfocus can help you with your benefits program, request a demo today.