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With annual enrollment barely in the rearview mirror, it's a perfect time for HR/benefits leaders to assess pros, cons and improvements needed for next year.


If you aren't seeing the annual enrollment results you want, it could be time to issue an RFP to find a new technology partner. Finding a new partner can be a daunting task. So, where do you start? 

Despite the longevity and dependability of the RFP, peer recommendations have recently soared in popularity, influencing more than 90% of all B2B buying decisions. With so much information available online, and with issuing an RFP often a daunting undertaking, it makes sense that decision-makers seek shortcuts to the process.

While peers can help offer a solid preview of the market, no two businesses are the same. Your peers might not have the same benefits needs as you and following their recommendation might distract from what really matters to your organization.

Above all, the RFP is a two-way communication. It encourages leaders to summarize everything from how benefits technology functions and how data is protected, down to how employees feel about annual enrollment. A benefits technology partner who understands these intricacies is going to be armed with background that helps them offer the best solution.

There's a lot of data out there and many ways to ask important questions. But in order to pinpoint the right benefits administration partner, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. Here's how to create an RFP that targets what you really want to know.

  1. Involve your IT or security team early. You’ve got the meeting room reserved for your RFP kick-off meeting… but who will you invite? Your leadership and human resources department will definitely be there, but be sure to include your IT or security team in that first step, too. These tech experts can shed light on the complicated world of your business’s network, security, data protocols, and bandwidth for tech support. Also, the RFP questions they develop will test the technical know-how of potential partners.
  2. Describe your current state. Once you’re ready to draft your RFP, it’s best to start with a “state of the benefits union.” This information begins with basic company statistics and information on your current benefits administrator. Then, it should evolve to include a portrait of your desired future state. Are you hoping to boost employee engagement this year? Have you experienced issues with vendors in the past that you are hoping to avoid this time around? Make a list and articulate all of this in your RFP so that vendors can provide answers you need.
  3. Outline your expectations and decision-making process. Consider the functions that your benefits technology will absolutely need to have and begin a running tally that a qualified vendor must meet to be considered. Start with more obvious services such as enrollment and eligibility but be sure to also think through auxiliary services such as wellness plan administration or communications campaigns to employees via email or enrollment posters. Will you be weighing each of these offerings equally in your decision-making, or do a few key functions win out over the rest? Make clear how you’ll be evaluating vendors and what they should expect from you in terms of review, communication, and a final decision. 
  1. Consider your unique service requirements. Your RFP should include a list of questions for potential vendors to answer—the essay section of the exam, so to speak. Before you compose a list of generic questions, however, think about what really matters to your organization. All businesses will want the program done quickly and at a low budget, but not all will have the same Spanish speaking populations, for example, or the need to manage a large staff of remote workers. Use your RFP team meeting to determine what these values are, and craft questions that encourage vendors to share in, and execute, your vision.
  1. Exclude the irrelevant. Benefits technology is not one-size-fits-all, so your questions shouldn’t be either. Your vendor will be taking time on your RFP, and you want to make sure that time is allocated toward detailed answers to what you really need to know. If there are some requirements that aren’t immediately relevant, consider skipping them in the RFP stage, and put them on deck for later in the decision-making process.

Ready to start writing? We have the perfect guide to get you started with over 250 sample RFP questions. Start your journey below. 

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View all Posts by Rae Shanahan