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Open Enrollment: UIS, Employees Services deliver the Rx to keep CU employees healthy

If you enrolled in medical, dental, vision, life and disability insurance during Open Enrollment this spring, you can thank the collaboration between Employee Services, University Information Services (UIS) and the CU Health Plan Trust.

While this three-week enrollment window may represent a brief task for University of Colorado faculty and staff, it represents a major project for the CU System office. This year, Employee Services staff put in over 2,200 hours of work on the project and UIS staff dedicated more than 500 hours.

Employee Services coordinates all customer support, employee communications, payroll testing, carrier fairs and informational sessions. In HCM, Employee Services manages the functional requirements and configurations to accommodate benefit changes. UIS provides development work, application and system support, file distribution support for vendor interfaces, quality assurance testing, portal support and environment refreshes.

“The thoughtful, deliberate coordination between Employee Services and UIS is intended to provide a quick and simple Open Enrollment experience,” said Jackie Hess, the assistant director of HR IT Services for UIS. “Through careful planning, critical testing, and timely support during and beyond the enrollment period ES and UIS accomplished this goal.”

Project planning begins in November and ends in August each year. While it is only a three week self-service period for employees, it takes nearly 10 months to ensure a successful Open Enrollment.

The hours dedicated to the project vary greatly, influenced by project scope changes, required vendor changes and – the largest variable – plan changes determined by the CU Health Plan Trust.

UIS’s Role in Open Enrollment


UIS’s Applications Development team works to develop solutions to enhance the customer service experience. One example: Filtering out unrelated data to facilitate a better selection process for an employee. If a staff member has a child over age 27, the child is too old to qualify for their parent’s medical plan but would still be available as a life insurance beneficiary. The Applications Team’s work makes the selection process easier for CU employees.

Quality Assurance testing

The Quality Assurance team conducts testing prior to the enrollment period. One of the largest, most important tests they run is load testing, which determines a system's performance under real-life load conditions. This testing determines how the application behaves when multiple users access it simultaneously and identifies its maximum operating capacity.

Browser compatibility testing represents another type of QA testing. It determines whether the Open Enrollment platform is proficient enough to run in different browsers, databases, hardware, operating systems, mobile devices and networks. This testing attempts to anticipate customer challenges with each browser and solve those problems before enrollment begins.

Portal support and development

The Portal team’s involvement in Open Enrollment varies from year to year depending on the project’s scope. This year, they were involved in making enhancements to the overall user experience.

A new portal tile was developed this year to act as a one-stop shop for everything Open Enrollment, providing a dashboard with links to benefit offerings, forms and documents, enrollment tools, enrollment confirmations and more. A new countdown clock feature reminded employees how long they had to act.

An alert in the portal’s Notification Bell not only reminded employees about Open Enrollment, but navigated them to the Open Enrollment dashboard directly from the portal homepage.

Environment refreshes

The ECS-Database team worked to complete environment refreshes to the non-production environments from production data before, during and after Open Enrollment.

Non-production environment refreshes were used to test and verify that production environments would not have problems when Open Enrollment began or when the new elections took effect. This is particularly important because benefit elections and payroll activities must stay the same in the live environment while ES and UIS teams conduct proactive testing in the non-production environment.

While Open Enrollment is a small portion of the average CU employee’s year, it takes a lot of work from Employee Services and UIS to make it a successful experience for CU’s nearly 26,000 benefits-eligible employees, retirees and surviving spouses.

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