Outsourcing has received a lot of attention as a way to reduce costs and improve operational flexibility. Sometimes, however, the best decision a company can make may be to keep the work in-house or to bring it back in-house.The latter is what happened to OneBeacon Insurance Group when the Boston-based subsidiary of White Mountains Insurance Group hired Opus Group LLC to evaluate and redesign its disparate underwriting processes.

After Opus Group re-engineered the insurer's workflow and aggregated data from several underwriting systems into one central repository, the carrier consolidated its call centers, which included bringing an outsourced first-notice-of-loss call center operation back in-house.

"Opus Group has done a lot to help us understand the work flows in the offices-and they've brought a certain level of standardization to managing our internal processing," says Mike Murray, vice president of finance at OneBeacon.

As part of its analysis, Opus Group discovered the insurer had excess capacity in-house. Those resources could be redeployed to a first-notice-of-loss operation, which OneBeacon could operate at a lower unit cost than it was paying its outsourcing provider.

"We always say, 'Before outsourcing, fix the process here first,'" says Mike Callaghan, CEO of Opus Group, a Chicago-based call center performance management software provider. "There's always a way for an organization to be more efficient," he says.

"Don't give that efficiency over to an outsourcer. Get as efficient as you possibly can before you calculate what you can save by outsourcing."

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