The most important aspect of getting the back-office policy administration system up and running in eight months-without delays, excuses and empty promises-was a project protocol that Security Benefit Group followed."The piece that made it successful was project management guidelines that we followed," stresses David Keith, senior vice president and CIO for Security Benefit Group, Topeka, Kan.

Security Benefit Group chartered a dedicated team of eight people to implement NaviSys Home Office from start to finish. Five information technology staffers joined three business-side staffers and were given the challenge of eliminating roadblocks and barriers to implementing the system.

The team had two project managers-one from NaviSys Inc. and a Security Benefit employee. Those two managers reported every three weeks to the carrier's Program Management Office (PMO), which has oversight responsibility for all corporatewide projects.

The PMO is composed of department heads from customer service, sales, information technology, finance and strategic oversight. The team reported on topics such as project status, issues, concerns, time lines, deliveries, milestones and costs.

"When you have a dedicated team, you have focus to address the issues as they come up," Keith explains. "Having a dedicated team of IT and business people allows you to look at the entire project and plan better.

"When we had to make policy changes, the team had a business person to spell out the new business rules," he adds.

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