8 lessons from the 2020 Iowa caucuses… for Wellness, HR, and Employee Benefits Managers launching new apps/websites:

  1. Conduct your due diligence with the vendor. Find and talk to the vendor’s ex-clients — not just the references provided to you. Visit the vendor’s offices (i.e. site visits), when possible.
  2. Attach steep performance guarantees to implementation. Look for at least 10-15% of the first year’s total fees. You only get one chance for a smooth launch. If the vendor balks, they’re telling you they don’t have confidence in their capabilities. Consider metrics like launch-date readiness, uptime, loading speed, speed to answer help desk calls and to reply to emails, and participant satisfaction (measured by you, not the vendor) with the initial process. As usual, you don’t want to have to collect these performance guarantee fees. You do want the vendor to be motivated and accountable. Of course, you can only hold them accountable for things in their control.
  3. Test, test, and test again. Test as many scenarios (different kinds of users; different ways of using the technology; etc.) as possible.
  4. During implementation, require regular updates on your vendor’s quality assurance processes.
  5. Have an experienced project manager on your team, and an IT specialist who has access to the vendor’s IT team. Include other experts, as needed, and work within your organization to assure selected team members are fully engaged in the project, and not just begrudgingly doing something they consider outside their job responsibilities.
  6. Collaborate with your vendor on systematic pre-launch training of key managers, leaders, and team members in your organization.
  7. Require your vendor to identify an executive sponsor for your account — a leader on their team with whom you can establish a relationship and who will make sure the vendor’s organizational barriers are torn down when you need them to mobilize for action on your organization’s behalf.
  8. Don’t scapegoat your vendor. When things don’t go well, look at your own performance and your organization to identify opportunities for improvement. (When things do go well, give credit where credit is due.)