Technology is the backbone of insurance companies’ successful adaptation to changing markets and customer and distributor demands. But, internal challenges combined with the plethora of options available in systems can create a very complex scenario, fraught with risk. Today’s insurers face expectations to adopt multiple new technologies and realize their benefits. But these emerging capabilities carry with them new difficulties, such as those associated with configuration of rules, adoption of automated regulatory compliance, and use of social media, collaboration and mobile technologies. While these technologies are increasingly important to an insurance carrier’s success, their adoption can also court expensive failure.
Failed technology initiatives are legendary in the insurance industry, and tied to an enormous loss of resources and the opportunity costs of delayed modernization initiatives. However, embracing technology deployment best practices will ensure successful initiatives in the face of limited resources and the rapidly changing technology and regulatory landscapes:
- Define Business Processes: Precise process mapping will create a clearer picture of the user activities, integration points and automation needs of the system. Defining existing pain points of current processes is as important as defining the new requirements for the proposed system. By defining your deployment process and identifying key resources, it is easier to determine and prevent any pitfalls that could stall a deployment.
- Include Key Stakeholders: Opening lines of communication with key stakeholders and assigning responsibilities to all participants in the early stages of a deployment make it easier to ensure the project is meeting everyone’s expectations. Offering regular status updates also helps to prepare for any budgetary or productivity concerns.
- Design Technology Plan: Review the current technology stack and identify its associated benefits, challenges and costs. With this understanding, create requirements for a new system based on the needs of departments, staff and executives, while considering the intricacies of deploying on premise or in the cloud, across multiple locations, or for numerous users with different permissions. Also, think about release plans, change controls, data management and future technology upgrades as part of the technology plan.
- Test and Go Live: Before going live, it is imperative to use a sandbox environment to test full system functionalities against your original requirements, as well as typical daily scenarios and business processes. An easy-to-use defect management system and proper workflows to address the defects resolution process are essential for a successful go-live objective. Identifying valid user activities, production-like data, negative test cases, and load and performance test scenarios will prevent any interruption in productivity, eliminate missed sales and avoid customer complaints about an improperly functioning system.
- Analyze Results and Connect Back to Pain Points: The true success of a new or upgraded system is not achieved without understanding the operational benefits of the new system. Creating control charts and evaluating the capabilities and processes of the new system against the original pain points and requirements in the deployment plan will determine the effectiveness of the system.
Undertaking a technology deployment is no small task, but having a plan in place will help to ensure a smooth execution and quickly get your agency team up and running on the new system. Once the system is live, you will inevitably notice improved efficiency and productivity of the agency staff, reduced costs through improved service (in turn, fewer complaints), and optimized business processes.