The Evolution of TBO Deals: Part I

I am deep into research for the next NelsonHall Targeting Benefits Administration market analysis, and I noticed that like multi-process HR outsourcing (MPHRO), total benefits outsourcing (TBO) often stems from a desire to consolidate the number of service providers. The benefits of MPHRO are realized mostly by client employers with self-service convenience provided for the employees. The benefits of TBO extend beyond the client employer to its employees and retirees who get an enhanced participant experience from the services being integrated, which not only offers convenience and ease of use but may also increase the value of the offered benefits to the individual participants. 

While the drivers and benefits of TBO are often similar with clients, how TBO deals have come into existence have greatly varied.  The four different methods we’ll further discuss include:

  • The traditional big bang approach
  • The big bang approach version 2.0 (i.e., converting existing consulting clients)
  • The mass consolidation approach
  • The step-up approach.

The traditional big bang approach: This is the oldest method in existence and is quite recognizable in the market, especially with large multi-nationals. It doesn’t happen often, but it definitely creates a big bang when a large employer outsources defined benefit, defined contribution, and health and welfare program administration for the first time—with all going to one service provider!

The big bang approach version 2.0: The big bang approach version 2.0 differs from the traditional approach in that the client and service provider already have a pre-existing relationship, typically on the consulting side.  Also, the client may or may not already be outsourcing some benefits administration services to perhaps test the waters, but the majority of services remain in-house.

The mass consolidation approach: In this approach, the client has already outsourced all benefits administration services to a variety of service providers and is now seeking one vendor to manage all services. Consolidation is sometimes done by a larger vendor management strategy but is often triggered by mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Client M&A activity is a real two-edged sword for all suppliers including TBO providers. Even if separate benefit vendors are initially kept in place, the danger zone remains open for years—especially during times of contract renewal.

The step-up approach: The step-up approach is the newest method and is exactly as the name implies.  It is where clients begin using a particular service provider for one benefits administration service and then, based on performance and satisfaction, add other services accordingly.

Later this week, we’ll take a look at examples of each type of TBO deal.

 Amy L. Gurchensky, Research Analyst, HRO, NelsonHall

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Explore posts in the same categories: BAO, benefits administration, benefits administration outsourcing, Total Benefits Outsourcing

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