Below is the 4th of 11 Novarica Research Council Impact Award nominee case studies, which INN is presenting in no particular order. The awards will be presented at the research and advisory firm’s August 13th event in New York and honor best practices in insurance industry IT initiatives and strategy.
Woman’s Life, a provider of life and annuity products and fraternal benefits, set out to streamline new business processing for life and annuity product lines.
The firm rolled out components for application entry, case management and underwriting, and product calculation. The solution also integrated with the company’s policy administration system and a content management tool to provide capabilities to direct new business workflow to internal and external underwriters.
Prior to the deployment, a vendor team worked with company representatives, discussing design considerations and determining how the solution could meet corporate goals such as reducing turnaround time, improving process efficiency and maximizing value.
Implementation and testing of the solution took less than five months.
A tool called FAST provided a service-oriented architecture with components for targeted functionality, including application entry, case management, underwriting and product calculation. The FAST components were integrated with Vector, the policy administration system, and DocuShare, the content management system.
The company had a tight timeline in which to work and a mandate to deliver early success that demonstrated the financial benefits of the system.
With a fixed budget, Woman’s Life had to manage the scope of the project tightly. This was done through aggressively managing the prioritization and implementation of functionality.
Another challenge was that gaps emerged in managing communication between multiple sources (such as different service providers) early on, which were quickly addressed through direct communication and increased collaboration.
The quality of the application entry process was improved through validations and reminders regarding policy replacements and plan and rider selections. Intangible improvements include reduced “off-system” documentation such as paper applications, underwriting spreadsheets and follow-up sticky notes. It’s also easier to train new hires on simpler business processes.
Keys to the successful implementation included a strong team that was able to aggressively manage “scope creep” through prioritization based on pre-established criteria. The collaboration between the company and the vendor was another key to success. Because of the small size of the team, members had to work closely to achieve goals.
In her own words, Janet Carmody, director of information systems at Woman's Life Insurance Society, shares lessons learned from this project.
The project’s mandate of aligning Woman’s Life workflow, document management and the simplification of communication with external (off-site) underwriters was realized immediately. Specific procedural changes necessary for the processes continue to be refined.
FAST utilized Agile development methodology which helped to define the project into small discrete stories which were then fully developed and implemented into FAST’s existing new business framework. The scope of the project was limited to application entry, case management, underwriting and premium (net amount of risk) calculation. Integration to Xerox Docushare (document management), and a legacy policy administration system was also implemented. Because of the short project timeframe several components identified during the business study were removed from the project prior to the actual start date.
Tight timeline and a fixed budget required aggressive prioritization, functionality compromises and out-of-the-box problem solving. Communication during the project proved critical. Weekly and sometimes daily calls were scheduled to review functionality and UI components.
The relative small project size resulted in a 3-person (50 percent time) commitment from Woman’s Life. As the project neared completion additional staffing was added to work through the testing and verification cycle.
Test cases/test scenarios were developed jointly by Woman’s Life and FAST. Due to time constraints the system testing occurred fairly late in the project.
What would you do differently?
In hindsight, more testing including the integration with the legacy administration system should have been completed prior to the implementation date.
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