What does the latest business process management (BPM) technology have to offer the insurance industry? That answer is—to put it in consultant-speak—it depends.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Donald Light, senior analyst at Celent, about the state of business process management, or BPM, in today’s insurance industry. Light’s observations are part of this month’s report on “Building BPM Solutions Into the Front Office,” published in the September issue of Insurance Networking News.

Light defines BPM as “a solution set that enables insurance companies to design processes that may be people-to-people, people-to-system or system-to-system in nature; to maintain a repository of those processes; and to put those processes into operation and have them executed in the normal flow of working operations.”

One would assume that a paperwork and workflow-intensive industry such as insurance would be leading the way with the latest and greatest in BPM. However, Light puts insurance somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of adoption rates.

Given the insurance sector has many types of businesses, the most pronounced BPM adoption can be seen where there are mass market, high transaction volumes, Light says. Thus, BPM technology implementations are more likely to be seen on the property/casualty side, and less likely within commercial accounts with very large customers.

But there are benefits that any and all insurance operations can see from implementing BPM technologies, Light notes. These include increased consistency of execution, productivity, more streamlining and preserving IT investments. And of that list, consistency of execution, he contends, is an important advantage.

“A carrier is able to do continuous improvement in terms of quality and productivity, because you have documentation for what actually happened, as opposed to, ‘Let’s pull out 30 paper files and see if we can figure this out,’” Light says, adding such consistency also can be applied across multiple business lines.

There has been quite a bit of discussion and speculation that BPM may also become part and parcel of service-oriented architecture (SOA) programs—another popular initiative seen among insurance companies. While the jury is still out on how closely SOA will align with BPM efforts, both approaches are key to increasing the capabilities of insurance organizations. As Light puts it: “All the BPM solutions have kind of an SOA framework.”

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology. He can be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Digital Insurance content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access