BU employees typically only use the general benefit enrollment application once a year, while the retirement benefit enrollment application may be used more often. Employee benefits are one the more important factors in an employee’s experience with their employer. Providing a user friendly tool to enroll in benefits is an important contributor to a positive experience.
Boston University currently utilizes SAP and a legacy application for enrollments in benefits (including health, dental, life insurance, and retirement plans). The method by which employees enroll in benefits are outdated, not user friendly, and fail to support current business needs. This project should review options for utilizing custom SAP development, new technology, or other platforms for managing enrollments in benefits sponsored by the University.– Nimet Gundogan, Executive Director, HR Benefits
To accomplish this goal, BU collaborated with SAP’s design team to further improve the enrollment process based on its employees’ needs. The team began by studying user flows of each enrollment process through nine on-site interviews, and by making observations.
Our research revealed three key issues:
One process doesn't fit all.
Design-specific barriers first emerged from the general benefits enrollment system. Due to the design of the existing benefits enrollment application, users would accidentally close the application without submitting their benefits, which caused the team to investigate how they might improve features such as the ‘submit’ button. In addition, the font size, screen real estate, and back/forward buttons made the navigational experience less than ideal.
However, the team also discovered that many obstacles stemmed from the diversity of the user base, which included recent hires and repeat users.
Life events are a big deal, but adjusting benefits shouldn't be.
BU used a paperwork process for users who needed to change their benefits after qualifying life events. A back-and-forth dialogue between HR representatives and the user was necessary to provide forms and confirm benefits eligibility. Instead of an intuitive online submission option, users physically submitted paperwork via interoffice mail.
Saving up a nest egg should be easy.
Above all, users expressed concern about the retirement benefits enrollment process. A complex enrollment process with cluttered terminology on every screen left users uncertain about whether they were correctly investing their retirement funds, or successfully receiving the University’s matching contribution.
The design team used these insights to conduct two collaborative ideation workshops with key stakeholders and users: one to investigate enrolling for general benefits and accommodating qualifying life events, and the second to explore the retirement benefit enrollment process.
During these engagements, the design team introduced BU to design thinking- a mindset for creative problem finding and jointly developing user-centric solutions. The design thinking mindset helped BU approach the project differently than they had before, which was a paramount takeaway, and the first step toward adopting the methodology for future projects.
Working with the SAP design team gave us observation and interview techniques that allowed us to see our existing enrollment applications through the eyes of our employees and mitigate our preconceived ideas about what needed to change.– Ursula Elsinger, SAP HCM Functional Analyst, BUworks
Rolling out the design
The complexity of two separate enrollment processes became even more apparent during the workshops, and highlighted the original business request for a single, intuitive application. So, the team transformed the ideas that surfaced into a single application for BU employees, incorporating key design features.
First, the application guides users through the enrollment process to help them completing the application quickly and with more accuracy, while the system also auto-populates relevant data, eliminating redundancy and manual errors.
It also distinguishes between new and repeat users, which prevents repeat users from navigating through excess information that may be confusing. A fast-tracking feature allows them to “confirm” submissions without re-entering information at each login.
Specific to each benefits process, the team replaced BU’s existing retirement benefits application design, and also automated the paper processes used to adjust general benefits after life events. Upon login, the application asks if the user had a life event and provides the required forms, which can be submitted online, streamlining the process for HR as well.
In addition to designing a new set of user-friendly and visually appealing interactions, the team streamlined information to help alleviate design-specific issues that surfaced during interviews.
Ensuring a better experience
After the initial re-design, the team conducted feedback studies with the core group of workshop participants using SAP Build, making another iteration after each study to further improve the user experience. At the end of the design phase, they delivered clickable prototypes to BU; one for new hire enrollment, one for repeat enrollment, one for retirement benefits, and one for qualifying life events.
With the completion of SAP’s new design, the next phase of the project involved BU developing the design with SAP’s field organization. The first deployment launched in 2017, with an intuitive retirement enrollment experience that was well-tailored to the university community’s needs.
Utilizing the SAP DCC and their design thinking approach allowed us to put forward an example of how we could deliver a much enhanced user experience. Combining this approach with the new SAP technologies, including HANA, SAP UI5, and Fiori, we are more confident that we can improve the SAP user experience at BU.– Greg Weldon, Executive Director, BUworks