By Sachin Shenolikar

(From the editor: This article was first published on RealBusiness.com, a  website from Xerox that provides ideas and information for decision-makers in business and government.)

When it comes to human resource consulting services, many companies are on the lookout for jacks of more than one trade. Bundling – where a consultancy offering several services instead of just one — has become common in recent years. While the money saved by hiring one firm for multiple tasks is attractive, the philosophy behind bundling has evolved beyond simple economics.

A Matter of Chemistry

First, there’s the trust factor, which is crucial in an age where complex work has to be completed at light speed. Finding capable people and forming great chemistry with business partners is not easy. Let’s say a company has hired a retirement consultant team, and that team goes above and beyond on all aspects of the job. It makes sense to work with that team on other projects as well, instead of looking to other specialized firms.

“We’re seeing that be a real driver,” says Dean Aloise, managing director of the wealth practice at Buck Consultants at Xerox. “Benefits are ultimately impacting the lives of all employees, so when [businesses] find consultants who truly do bring the trust factor, they’re willing to build more services with them.”

New Benefits Requirements

The changing benefits system also increases the need for bundling. For example, with the decline of defined benefit plans and rise of defined contribution plans as the main retirement delivery vehicle for companies, there is a need for additional guidance on a wider scale.

“What we’re seeing more and more of is companies willing to bundle that investment consulting work with a true defined contribution plan consulting expert who can speak to design, governance, and compliance,” says Aloise. “In the past that didn’t really happen.”

This also becomes a need as the method of delivering employee benefits turns to a customer-centric model. “There’s an evolving market for consulting firms to deliver benefits directly to employees, really personalizing and customizing and having a business-to-consumer mindset,” says Aloise.

Keep it Simple

Finally, having one trusted vendor consult on several areas helps companies move toward an important goal in the modern business climate: simplifying work. Why complicate the process with multiple vendors when you can use just one?

“It definitely ties into that whole theme,” says Aloise. “There’s constantly a desire to streamline, to be more efficient, and minimize the number of vendors that need to be involved with a corporation. So bundling definitely helps get there.”

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