In a word, OptaComp's legacy policy administration system was "unstable." But really, it was worse than that. Over the years, what was originally an agency management system had been highly customized for workers' compensation rating and quoting. That and its advanced age led to it no longer being supported by its manufacturer. Plus it wasn't capable of supporting Web-based services, which OptaComp's independent agents were starting to see from competitors.

"The people who worked on it, who did the customization were long gone," explains Tom Royal, IT and solutions lead on the replacement project. "If we had a system outage or a crash, they could get us up and running, but we weren't able to make any updates to the system, or further changes, or anything."

The antiquated system was a desktop application that relied upon a flat-file database called Omnis. "The way we had it implemented was that we had an executable file sitting out in a network folder. And everybody would bump up against that and fire up the application. It was kind of client server, but not really. It did access a centralized database, but that wasn't anything like Oracle, AS/400 or SQL Server. It was really just a file where it would access and write its records," Royal says. "It was temperamental as well. If certain users didn't let a process fully execute, it was pretty easy for them to take down the system and corrupt the database."

The justification for a replacement was simple, Royal says. OptaComp simply couldn't afford any down time or further loss of efficiency. A set of rate changes, for example, left the system out of compliance, as several rating factors could not be updated. A work-around had been devised, in which an outdated rating would be pulled out, rerated manually and then fed back into the system. "Obviously that was not a good workflow; and you could pick up some efficiency there," Royal says.

Another justification was reporting. "They were looking for premium performance and things like that, as well as an enhanced, integrated billing and invoicing process to gain some efficiency in the finance department. They were also looking for the future ability to expand a system into having an online-portal presence for agents and accept quotes online," Royal says.

OptaComp has a full development group in house, but with the complexities of rating and the number of documents that would need to be created out of the many case scenarios, the team quickly decided to buy a solution. Both heavily involved, policy services was interested in quoting, policy management, endorsements, forms and audits, while the finance group was interested in premium billing, commissions and financial work associated with policy administration, Royal says. After deliberation, the team selected PCIS's CompVision policy administration system and POSVision, which enables an agent portal.

A deciding factor was CompVision's ability to create and track documents, such as welcome letters, schedules of endorsements and deck pages-some required by the National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc., Royal says. "There were others we looked at that had all the rating and billing pieces, but that piece was always a gap. We were going to be left on our own to generate and track them," he says.

There were, however, some complications. "PCIS is a client-server solution and it's intended to be rolled out as a desktop application with an Oracle database," Royal says. But Oracle wasn't their primary database. By leveraging technology from OptaComp's parent company, Blue (formerly Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida), OptaComp was able to get Oracle support. "As far as the desktop application goes, we didn't have a whole lot of options there," he says, because of the lock-down environment, which created challenges for deployment. "What we did is rolled it out on a terminal-server type arrangement and distributed that out to all the users in the company. So they were able to access one terminal application, so to speak, but through the new options, such as Windows 2008." As a result there's better integration for remote deployment of applications, and it circumvents the security problems associated with desktop applications, Royal says.

There was very little discussion about importing the 18,000 customer records. "It would be on par with one of the lunar landings," Royal says jokingly. "We would never be able to import those policies and rerate those in the new system and get them to match up. It just wasn't worth the effort." As a result, the decision to run out the policies in the old system was simple, he says. They picked a go-live date for the new system and going forward, would only issue policies from there.

Royal says the initial implementation, which included quoting, rating, accepting quotes, generating quote acceptance documents and functionality to do check issuance of commissions, went so smoothly the go-live date was moved forward. The project began in October 2010 and went live in mid-February 2011, quoting policies that would be effective as of June 1. The second phase, which included policy issuance, documents and forms, regulatory reporting, premium billing and audit, also went live June 1. "We used that interim time, while we were doing the quoting, to finish pieces for document generation and policy issuance," Royal says. The agent portal, now running in a test environment, is likely a 2013 project. Though Royal declined to offer a go-live date, he says PCIS and OptaComp are working together on advanced workflows and creating automated quotes for certain classes of business.

While the legacy system no longer issues policies, OptaComp will keep it for audit and reporting purposes as those policies and claims mature. "There are losses that continue to happen on claims that are still open, so we will need to continue to report on those policies for 12 years with NCCI. We already loaded the policy information into a data warehouse, so we will continue to have that information available," Royal says, adding that claim information is tracked in a different system.

Looking back on the project, Royal says they could have better leveraged the momentum from the initial implementation to accomplish the future phases. "Some time elapsed before we started talking about those future phases," he says. "If we had just keep going with it, we probably would have been able to get them implemented a little sooner and been more effective."

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