Get the APIs that matter with a purpose-built core system

When I’m talking to customers about the benefits of purpose-built solutions, they quickly understand the advantage of having a great fit to business requirements and a UX which is familiar to people in the employee benefits business. There’s less to build and maintain, the system resonates with the business and is easy to learn. 

How purpose-built makes all the difference 

You probably already know that APIs are the technology that underpins your digital experiences and the trading of data between you and your business partners. When you get real-time census data from an employer’s HRIS system, that’s APIs in action. 

You might not realize that the right data structures are a key foundation of APIs. These data structures are the language of your business. They describe the key aspects of your business such as products, benefits, employers, and relationships in the ecosystem. Just like people, if your APIs are not talking the same language, you need a translator to bridge the gap. However, this comes at a price: even the best translators lose meaning in the translation while adding cost and delay. 

If these structures match your business, then creating meaningful user experiences and connections to business partners is faster, cheaper, and more flexible in useful ways. If the data structures do not match your business, you end up with a lot of brittle custom code to bridge the gap — to translate. This creates a maintenance burden and slows your ability to move quickly and innovate. It also often makes the end result more generic and less meaningful for customers and business partners. Meaning gets lost in translation. 

So having data structures that are purpose-built for the employee benefits business is critical for your digital strategy. Of course, it’s also important for other reasons. The core purpose of IT is information; having business-relevant information enables efficient business processes. Without good data you cannot communicate well with your customers, and you cannot discover insights that offer you competitive advantage.  

Ensuring your core system is purpose-built for your business is key in meeting the needs of your own business staff, but also your customers and business partners. 

Less time and energy required 

Most people understand that when it comes to core systems, the better the fit between the core system and the lines of business, the better value you get from your core system. This features in the initial implementation as a better functional fit, lowering implementation costs and reducing the need to define the details of the business capabilities you need. This last point is really important. Defining business capabilities in enough detail to implement them in a system is time-consuming and requires your most experienced people who could be better utilized solving problems and innovating in your business. 

When you ask, “Can the system handle overpayments related to intermittent working hours?” and the answer is, “Yes, we do it for carriers X, Y and Z, I’ll send you the documentation,” the conversation ends in seconds. If the answer is, “No, how does that work?” you have the beginning of a project. 

Capabilities already in a core platform will also have undergone multiple iterations with multiple carriers, working through wrinkles and corner cases at a level not possible in one cycle, even with a major investment of time. 

Fit begets value 

The value of fit is even more prominent during the working life of the system, as the vendor and their community of customers grow the solution over time. You must ask yourself if the vendor’s focus is similar to your business? If it is, you’ll get new capabilities in line with your needs. If it is not, you will have a vendor who’s working on, say, making commercial property claims better, or billing for fleet insurance, rather than capabilities pertinent to employee benefits. 

At FINEOS, we have an inside view of this when applied to functionality used by carrier staff, since they are traditionally the main users of core systems. Modern core system vendors now understand that customers and business partners are key user communities. As a buyer, you need roadmap alignment for APIs and underlying data structures, as well as for core functionality. If there are relevant new features for the admin teams, in many cases we would also like those capabilities to be available to employers, employees and individual customers when using a self-service portal. 

As a result, we need to look at alignment between our business needs and the APIs we get from modern core systems. It doesn’t matter how many there are, more APIs are not better if they don’t fit the need. Thousands of motor APIs are not going to help your employee benefits solution. It’s important you have the APIs that matter.  

Read more about why purpose-built is key to modernizing employee benefits in our white paper. 

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