We're looking forward to our third and final webinar in our RFP series, "Technology Implementation--How to Live in Wedded Bliss with Your Service Provider", tomorrow at 1 PM CST. Rae Shanahan and Rhonda Marcucci will be providing insight that will help create “wedded bliss” during implementation -- defining roles within the relationship, how to communicate and avoid breakdown, determining the best way to resolve conflict and how to watch for red flags. In case you missed Part II, "Getting Engaged to the Right Vendor", we thought we'd do a quick recap on preparation, finalist meetings, selecting the right vendor and getting that contract signed!
Preparing for the Meeting
First things first—get the meetings on the calendar well in advance and provide a minimum two weeks’ notice. Keep in mind that this is setting the stage for the rest of the relationship with your potential vendor and giving them ample notice (we recommended at least two weeks) is courteous so they can prepare and tailor the presentation to your specific needs. When scheduling your meetings, plan no more than 2 per day and keep the meetings limited to 2-4 hours in length. Consider having the finalist meeting at your partner’s headquarters so you can experience the culture to determine if it’s a good fit. If not possible, have the finalist meeting at your office where you’ll have access to the stakeholders involved and so your vendor can understand your culture.
Conducting the Finalist Meeting
On the day of your finalist meeting, it’s important not to forget the little things! Have the audio/visual set up ahead of time, ensure you have an appropriate meeting environment and give the service provider adequate time to set up. Designate a note taker and time keeper and make sure that all the agenda items are covered. Ask questions as you go (don’t save them all for the end!)–the finalist meeting should be a two-way dialogue, not a one way monologue.
When the meetings are over, it’s time to make your final decision. This is where you'll want to check vendor references. Rhonda recommends checking formal references as well as your carrier partners, but also recommends doing your research to see what you can find on social media. If you're really on the fence between two vendors, this may be the time to visit the vendor's office if you haven't already. This is especially important if you are considering a service center since there are a lot of new vendors entering the benefit technology space, and not all service centers may be equally established.
The biggest part of contracting is the confirmation of services call that will state exactly what is being purchased and what isn’t—this will eliminate surprises down the road. Be sure to have everyone who is involved in the buying process on this call—your adviser, the employer signing the contract, the implementation leader and sales consultant. Compare contractual documents to the letter of intent, and be sure to consider lengths of contracts and early termination fees. When everyone is on the same page and questions have been clarified, get that contract signed!You found your perfect vendor, but the fun doesn't stop there! Once the contract is signed, the initial euphoria of a new service provider/employer relationship wears off and the real work begins in implementation. Click the button below to register for tomorrow's webinar, "Technology Implementation--How to Live in Wedded Bliss with Your Service Provider"--we hope to see you there!