Employee benefits; why are we still being charged implementation fees?

Nick Kjelgaard, Zest Benefits questions why some tech providers charge huge fees for implementing benefits technology

 When I look back at my time in software in the benefits/engagement industry I can see that the days of bespoke implementation should really now be a thing of the past. Today, the technologies we use are standardised and the underlying capabilities they offer have moved on, so why do high charges still exist? How can efficiencies in technology move on so quickly and progress so well to the point that I can download an app and build my own website on my phone and yet I can be charged, in certain cases, in excess of £50,000 to implement benefits technology? Quite simply, this shouldn’t be the case.

If we look at this in a compensation and benefits environment, we all want state of the art tech to ensure that employee engagement, wellbeing, financial education and so on is at a premium. However, it’s always that implementation fee and associated hidden costs that come along from a provider that really upset us.

At the drop of a hat

Fundamentally, all businesses and departments work within a budget; which is typically set three months before a financial year begins. If I’m unhappy with a service or I see a new technology that I feel could really benefit my business, I should be able to adopt this service or tech at the drop of a hat; but high implementation fees are limiting organisations from being able to move quickly. If my budget is set in October 2018 for a financial year of 2019, a compensation and benefits team simply don’t have the ability to implement or move technology in this scenario until 2020. It’s no wonder that 60% of organisations have stated that cost is their biggest barrier to implementing employee benefits technology.

So, I ask the question, what would happen if implementation and project fees were removed; or minimal? What if I only had to allow for my ongoing license fees for the number of employees that I have using the system? Wouldn’t this just align to how services are offered these days?

Nowadays, we live our modern lives on a monthly payment basis; from our car and furniture repayments right through to our Netflix subscription. I know that if my phone provider asked for £1,000 upfront for my phone and then £30 a month for the service, I’d be going elsewhere.

Real time configuration

Modern benefits technology has dramatically evolved over recent years. Catching up with the expectations of consumer technologies, the next generation of employee benefits technology focuses on the configuration of your benefit scheme, not building your platform from the ground up. There’s no longer the need for intensive manual processes behind the scenes. Any modern benefit technology provider should be able to quickly configure any benefit scheme, no matter how complex. Open communication between an organisation and their benefits technology provider can result in a scheme being ready in a matter of days, not months.

So why do these costs still exist?  Let me change my earlier question. With technology now smarter, slicker and leaner, why shouldn’t we be paying for our benefits technology on a monthly basis, like so many other aspects of our lives?

The answer is simple; we should be. Modern employee benefits technology providers should be working to remove cost as a barrier and keeping up with the modern day technologies – and how we pay. If benefits technology is being offered as a service, then it is you the customer that should benefit from this. Surely offering technology that is simple and easy to implement for minimal to zero upfront fees is what we’re all seeking?