Oct 6, 2010


Like any other major initiative, the design and implementation of a flexible benefits project needs appropriate and professional project management. Specific points to note include:
§  Add a note herethe need to liaise with interested third parties such as the pension plan trustees;
§  Add a note hererealistic deadlines - as a guide, the time to implementation is normally around 9–18 months;
§  Add a note herethe need for a high-level sponsor;
§  Add a note herethe need, if possible, to involve staff in the process - this implies skilled facilitation to avoid raising expectations too far.
Add a note hereDepending on the size of the organization and the size, make-up and capability of the HR function, it is often useful to set up one or more flexible benefits working parties. These might include representatives from functions such as finance, IT, payroll, communications, pensions, purchasing and line management as well as trade union or staff association representatives.
Add a note hereApproaches to projects vary between organizations. Although some firms design and implement their own plans with minimal outside assistance, others rely extensively on outside advisers on the basis that the development of flexible benefit plans is a complex process with many financial and tax considerations to be taken into account. Outside advisers might include one or more of the following:
§  Add a note hereConsultants: May offer a start-to-finish service or may specialize in certain areas such as design and communication.
§  Add a note hereBenefits providers and brokers: Some of the largest firms have the capability to offer a start-to-finish service including administration while others may be weak in elements outside their main areas of expertise, for example the link from reward strategy to design. Several offer off-the-shelf voluntary benefits products.
§  Add a note hereAdministration providers: Some providers offer a start-to-finish service while others concentrate on administration. Some offer an IT solution only while others offer full outsourcing.
§  Add a note hereTax accountants and lawyers: May be focused on tax/NI issues or offer a full design service.
Add a note hereAn outline work plan for developing a flexible benefits plan is shown in Figure 1

Figure 1: A work plan for developing flexible benefits 
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