Transformation is the watchword in the insurance industry as carriers race to shed their legacy systems and processes in favor of digital. But the hard work doesn't end when new technology is selected. Adequate and smart staffing is also crucial to ensuring success during implementation and beyond. Novarica VP Chuck Gomez outlined six tips for insurance CIOs to keep in mind in staffing transformation programs in a new brief; following are some excerpts from those suggestions.
Assign an experienced project manager, or find a hired gun
"Having experience with big programs and projects is essential when hiring or assigning a project manager to the largest projects within the program," Gomez writes. "However, it can be difficult to find an existing project manager with large project experience inhouse. One way to get this experienced big project manager is to employ a 'hired gun,' which comes with additional benefits. Hiring an outside big project manager will not only provide value to the project in terms of big project experience, but the outsider will also know how to navigate politics and be able (most of the time) to stay above the political fray."
Assign an end-to-end technical architect
"Having one single architect oversee all technical designs—from user interfaces to batch interfaces—will ensure that a single vision is executed across all platforms," Gomez explains. "In addition, data and architectural standards will certainly be deployed for the online and Web service components; extending these standards across batch utility programs and interfaces with external parties will make for a cohesive design and minimize data, file, or Web service incompatibility issues."
Separate design leads from project leads
"Assigning designers to lead projects when they are not a good fit could result in many issues. For one, the designer-project lead may be overly focused on design and not on managing team tasks," Gomez says. "Secondly, the designer may want to take on tasks rather than delegate, since a designer is normally focused on completing their own design tasks. Lastly, designers may not have the natural skills needed to lead—namely managing tasks, people, and issue resolution."
Staff the data conversion team early
"Researching legacy systems to identify candidates for data conversion can be done during project planning activities," Gomez writes. "Once the scope is confirmed, data sources will be identified, and teams can plan out and move forward with mapping, ETL, target analysis, and design work."
Staff QA with knowledgeable business resources
"Business knowledge, however, becomes valuable during QA planning and execution when questions will likely arise with regards to unusual system behavior or the need to clarify or resolve inconsistent business requirements that were not caught during test planning or development," Gomez says.
Plan for a remote project team
"Establishing a standard process and game rules for the program will work out in the best interest of all parties," says Gomez. "When undertaking a large IT transformational program that involves any remote workers, establishing a team communication plan is essential."