What does a St. Bernard, a Pineapple, a Unicorn and Bamboo have to do with HR/Benefits Administration?


Life is pretty funny sometimes.

I have been in the insurance business since graduating from college in 1992 (24 years if you are doing the math).  Back then, I didn’t know much about anything. I loved math (especially the kind with dollar signs in front), technology (the kind that had a real problem solving purpose) AND working with people (as a trusted resource).  The more I got to know about the insurance industry and specifically employee benefits, the more I realized a fit for me and my personality. And, though I am a horrible salesperson, I have always had business development (SALES) as a big part of my role.  So, much as it pains me to write this in a public forum. . .I am an insurance salesman!

It has taken me a long time to understand and appreciate the role I play and what value I bring to my client relationships.  In my early days, when I would meet someone and they asked what I did, I would go to great lengths to make selling insurance sound more exciting than it is.  It became clear to me relatively quickly that most people do not like talking about, thinking about and definitely not dealing with insurance.

Now comes the funny part. . .

About 3 years ago, a company named Zenefits hit the scene.  They were going to be the fastest growing SaS (software as a service) company since Salesforce – Uber for the insurance/benefits world.  Their story is too long and winding to detail here.  But, here is the latest article that will give you sense of what has happened to them since their founding.

Their “success” (at least in raising money/creating buzz) has had a significant ripple effect.  Today, everyone (that is only a slight exaggeration) wants to get into the insurance/benefits management game.  This includes – Bernie Portal (from Bernard Health), Pineapple HR, Unicorn HRO and Bamboo HR – to name just a few.

While maintaining my day job as an insurance guy, I have always kept tabs on web-based HR/Benefits Administration systems.  Over the years, I have demoed literally hundreds of platforms.  I even took a shot at building my own (that was fun)!

What I have learned from all of these experiences is that properly engineered, implemented and maintained software systems are necessities for any business that has employees.  There is simply too much data/information to gather, share, evaluate and report.  Doing that on paper forms, spreadsheets and sticky notes will lead to missing information, improper documentation, etc. etc.  With the Federal Government now grading your work and enforcing penalties when it’s incorrect, the stakes are too high.

Technology is not THE solution.  But, it is a part of the solution.  It will evolve as technology always does.  So, pick your platforms and partners wisely.  If you ever need help sifting through the options, my team and I are happy to lend a hand.


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