How Ohio Mutual revamped billing

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As the self-service economy heated up in early 2015, surging requests for more billing flexibility at Ohio Mutual Insurance Group drew senior management’s attention.

“Billing is such a significant touch point across all our business lines that it represents about 40 percent of our customer service calls,” says Brad McCormack, assistant VP of IT for the Bucyrus, Ohio, P&C carrier. “With billing customization expectations increasing, our leadership made it a company-wide priority to respond.”

At the time, Ohio Mutual used the billing function embedded in its policy administration system, POINT IN by DXC Technology (formerly CSC). A traditional policy-focused billing system, it created individual bills for each policy a customer held and lacked customization options.

However, customers and agents were asking for more advanced capabilities, like consolidated bills for each product they held, and personalized due dates. “This required a customer-centric billing system, which was beyond the scope of POINT IN,” McCormack says.

Given it’s established IT strategy of standardizing on vendors for primary systems, Ohio Mutual looked to DXC for a solution.

“Although we considered other vendors, and discussed going down a formal evaluation road, it was outside our partnership-based philosophy,” says McCormack. The company decided to implement DXC's Premium Billing 360º [PB360º].

Thirteen-month deployment takes ‘all hands’

In November 2015 Ohio Mutual kicked off the billing deployment, which involved integrating 13 systems with the on-prem version of PB360º. To begin, Ohio Mutual and DXC worked together on the requirements phase.

Then, while DXC completed POINT IN-related tasks, Ohio Mutual handled the other 12 integration points. For public-facing systems, such as the agency and insured portals, Ohio Mutual leveraged agile development with waterfall for internal-facing systems.

From a technology perspective, the only deployment challenge surrounded some portal integration immaturities in PB360º. “We had high expectations for how we’d integrate billing components with our externally-facing portals,” says McCormack. “But, our expectations exceeded the capabilities available in the original PB360º release.”

Ohio Mutual and DXC created workarounds for the initial rollout, but McCormack notes the desired functionality remains a work in progress. “We pressed the vendor to supply the needed RESTful APIs, which are typical pathways for providing data from underlying systems to portals,” he says. “And we’ve [received] assurances from DXC that they’re building out these capabilities going forward.”

Organizationally, the hurdle was completing such a significant modernization using existing resources, company-wide, while simultaneously maintaining Ohio Mutual’s high customer service standards. “It’s a testament to our corporate culture that we could accomplish the project without disruption to our agents or policyholders,” says McCormack.

“Our teamwork-driven environment emphasizes that everyone contributes to achieving our common goals,” he adds. “For this initiative, it definitely meant putting in overtime.”

McCormack also credits the initiative’s governance structure for keeping the initiative on track. “First, we formed an executive-level steering committee, with representation across our business lines,” he says. “CSC provided executive leadership from their side.”

Ohio Mutual also established a three-person implementation supervision team comprised of a project, technology and business manager. Each of these individuals obtained and directed resources drawn from their respective units. The company also tapped its existing agent technology council, a committee of about a dozen agencies representing all lines of business, geographic regions and technology maturity.

“The council assisted us with articulating agent-facing requirements and, as we developed features, confirmed our approach was on the mark,” McCormack says.

The impossible made possible

Ohio Mutual went live on the new system in December of last year, and it's already paying off. “Before, we were unable to accommodate requests to customize a billing parameter,” says McCormack. “Now, we can do so while an agent is still on the phone.”

What’s more, Ohio Mutual is teaching distributors how to handle requests autonomously. “We definitely make changes when an individual calls,” McCormack says. “But, during the interaction, CSRs also offer to demonstrate how to make changes, empowering agents to use our self-service options the next time if they chose.”

With the billing initiative completed, Ohio Mutual is turning its attention to further modernizing claims and policy administration systems. The former involves a move from DXC’s Advanced Claims to RISKMASTER Accelerator, an integrated claims and risk management platform, which Ohio Mutual expects to complete in early 2018. Afterwards, the insurer plans to tackle a POINT IN modernization with a targeted rollout of late 2019.

“Keeping all of our systems current and relevant – from the standpoints of code base, talent acquisition technology stack, environment and accessibility – is an ongoing strategy at Ohio Mutual,” says McCormack. “The billing system is just one key component of that.”

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