Below is the 12th of 13 Novarica Research Council Impact Award nominee case studies that INN is presenting, in no particular order. The awards, which will be presented at the research and advisory firm’s November 14th event in New York, honor best practices in insurance industry IT initiatives and strategy.

PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company knew that to improve customer service, its customer service representatives needed a comprehensive understanding of the customer. So, in 2010, as part of multi-year strategic program to improve customer experience, the midsize personal lines insurer initiated two SQL Server-based projects: Smart Search, which enables CSRs to quickly find the right customer without exact spelling or policy number, and The Hub, which offers a consolidated customer overview with links to policy, billing, claims, and open call-back reminders, and also links to other household members.

While the CIO and director of customer service shared project sponsorship, the director provided the business vision. The core project team—one project manager, one BA, three developers, two contracted QA testers, and two part-time architects—followed best practice agile software engineering, and project management practices (XP and Scrum). The team found the source system data structure to be extremely intricate, with the rules hidden in application code rather than in the schema. So, it mapped the source system DB2 tables into a relational database structure with well-defined keys and relationships.

It took 12 months to develop the customer information database, and six months to develop the smart search and customer overview.

Analysis during the beta period indicated that 99.5 percent of the time, the users found the desired customers among the top five search results. PEMCO also eliminated the need to hop between applications by providing policy, billing and claims overview on the same page.

To see coverage of the other Novarica's Impact Award nominees, click here.

Check back Tuesday to find out how Allstate Financial enabled producers and customers to legally bind an electronic signature to a life insurance application via Internet.

About the awards: Novarica’s first annual Research Council Impact Awards honor best practices in insurance industry IT initiatives and strategy. Nominees were selected across four categories—Practice, Quick Hit, Transformation and Expansion—with three nominees chosen for each (a tie in the Expansion category meant four nominees were selected). The nominees were selected by a committee from a collection of case studies drafted by Novarica from submissions by insurers.

The nominating committee included CIOs Andy Wood (Wilton Re), Dan Simpson (Trustmark), Eric Bulis (SBLI USA), Larry Fortin (Millers Mutual Group), Mark Berthiaume (Chubb), Pete Moreau (Amica), Piyush Singh (Great American Insurance Company), Reuben Broadfoot (LifeMap), Sal Abano (Tower Insurance), Stuart Tainsky (PURE) and Tim Billow (ING).

Winners will be determined by votes from the more-than-300 members of the Novarica Research Council, a moderated knowledge-sharing community of insurer CIOs and senior IT executives.

The nominees and winners will be recognized at the Novarica Research Council Impact Awards Event in New York City now on November 14th.

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