Capital Benefits Group (CBG) is a health benefits company serving Association Health Plans with product and price-advantaged offerings. Founded in 1986, CBG provides affordable health plan options and simplifies employee benefits for a diverse range of clients in Washington state.
As CBG’s top leadership was preparing to transition to the next generation, the team paused to understand how it wanted to grow and how an investment in technology would support its growth goals. CBG enjoyed a strong market position and was well positioned for growth, but sensed customer expectations were changing, and were concerned as competitors launched new online features making it easier for businesses (i.e., customers) to manage benefits. CBG’s operations were still largely telephone and paper-based, and wanted to fully assess customer expectations before proceeding. The desired result of the work was a comprehensive plan to drive a common vision for the future technology needs of the company. After consulting with Forum Solutions, CBG’s leadership decided to first assess and align on their overall business goals and strategy before considering the IT environment.
CBG engaged Forum Solutions to complete a two-part process to develop the roadmap. Part one was a holistic review of current customer and partner perceptions, company goals, business processes, and market position, which quickly allowed CBG to better align on its strategic plan. The second was to perform a comprehensive IT assessment, highlighting strengths and analyzing current gaps, while driving the best path forward.
Forum Solutions deployed a team to tackle the two-part assessment. Forum co-founder Paul Lambert and associate Stephanie Fiano developed and conducted an external survey of association business customers and interviewed industry influencers, partners, clients, and competitors. Experienced IT and technology expert Brian Hadfield assessed CBG’s technologies, current priorities, internal approach to IT governance, and reviewed the process for how the business technology priorities were set and communicated. Forum worked with CBG to bring it all together with two workshops where the co-developed business and technology vision was put to the test, resulting in a stronger final plan.
By taking a step back and evaluating business needs and expectations before hiring new IT leadership, Forum was able to identify CBG’s opportunities to add capabilities, close blind spots, and focus attention on the evolving external environment.
The result was a strategic business plan that clarified company expectations for the planning horizon, with a roadmap for IT as its focus. “Forum Solutions drafted their findings and recommendations in a way that was diagnostic, transparent, and results focused,” said Jonathan Hensley, President of Capital Benefits Group.
“We knew technology was an important driver in our business, but we wanted to better understand how much work we had to do in incorporating it into a strategic plan,” said Ray Barker, CIO. “Forum helped us approach where we are in the market and lay out a plan for what we can do to improve our technological capabilities going forward in a way that was informative and collaborative, but never formulaic.”
Forum’s expertise with health leaders and technology were put to good use and allowed the team to assess the environment quickly and liaise effectively between different parts of the organization.
“We’ve been in the market a long time and have been doing things more or less the same since when we started.” Hensley said. “The Forum team laid out the potential for disruption in the industry and what we can do to stay competitive.”
Forum helped Capital Benefits Group inform and facilitate its strategic planning process. With insight and clarity, Forum helped infuse a new strategic approach to technology into a practical business plan in close collaboration with executive leadership at CBG. By taking Forum’s recommendations on documenting and incorporating technology solutions into the overarching strategic growth plan and re-evaluating its budget priorities, CBG is poised for a stronger and more sustainable market position in an increasingly diversified health benefits provider marketplace.