As insurers continue to experience increased pressures from a host of factors, including aging technology systems, progressing competitors, more demanding customers and new regulations, we continue to see investment trends that target improvements to core operations, especially in the area of policy administration systems (PAS). Once organizations commit to replacing their existing PAS, it is critical that they understand the middle ground between strategy and execution to overcome the many obstacles that stand between their strategic vision, and the goal of realizing the benefits of that vision.

In my previous posts, I discussed the importance of developing a business strategy, business case and incremental roadmap for policy administration transformation systems, as well as the critical vendor selection process. This post focuses on what you need to take into account when mobilizing an organization for a PAS implementation.

Undertaking a major transformation is no small task. It takes an experienced team to overcome the economic, operational, cultural and technological hurdles that stand between the strategic vision for PAS and the execution of a multi-year, multi-million dollar implementation. It is nearly impossible to realize strategic results if mobilization is flawed (or ignored altogether). According to our 2010 Digital IQ survey, failure to properly mobilize a program contributed to 77% of projects using more resources than planned, and over 50% not achieving desired business capabilities.

Given that the mobilization phase is so critical, why do companies struggle with it? Many of them do not understand the necessity of this phase because there is a common misconception that a strategy is ready for implementation upon definition. Others lack experience and/or capabilities to translate their strategy into an actionable plan for such large-scale, high-risk transformations. And other transformations fail because of organizational inertia or passive resistance that must be overcome during the mobilization phase.

Implementing change is difficult even under the most ideal circumstances, but is especially challenging when there is ambiguity surrounding scope, timelines, staffing, processes and tools. What often sets winning competitors apart from the also-rans is a superior ability to mobilize the right resources in order to deliver the value of strategic programs on time and on budget.

Key Elements of Mobilization: Successful mobilization requires a mixture of individuals from program management, business and IT functions. With the right team in place, the mobilization process should be completed within 10 to 12 weeks. The following checklist should prove useful when mobilizing your organization's PAS journey:

1) Validate Alignment - Make sure that your stakeholders are on the same page with regard to scope, business drivers and program ownership. Additionally, confirm that the implementation approach hypothesis (i.e. which market segment, product line, etc.) is still the most optimal one for the organization.

2) Design the PAS Program Organization Structure and Governance Model - Establish guiding principles and determine the reporting structure between various stakeholders and levels. Identify the tracks by which work will be structured, determine the objectives and scope of each workstream and define roles and responsibilities.

3) Create Detailed Program/Project Plans - Group bundles of work into big-ticket packages across tracks, identify cross-track and internal dependencies and sequence packages based upon logical order of work and those dependencies. Subsequently create detailed project plans for the initial three to six months for each track (detailed planning beyond that should be addressed through "plan refreshes" during the implementation).

4) Determine a Sourcing Approach - Determine the appropriate mix of internal versus external resources, tiers by which particular roles are staffed and appetite for utilizing offshore resources.

5) Build a Flexible Cost-Tracking Tool - Create a detailed cost model to establish the budget, track forecasts and provide actual versus variance reporting capabilities. Develop metric-based reports for ongoing financial reporting for the PAS program.

6) Establish Processes and Tools to Operationalize the Program - Define and implement a project management office to manage the program. Create processes and tools to manage planning, status reporting, change control, quality control and resource on/off-boarding.

7) Develop the Communication Plan - Begin laying the groundwork for successful change management by creating a comprehensive communications plan that identifies all stakeholders, outlines the type of information that will be communicated and the frequency/mechanism for those communications.

8) Define the Business Requirements Framework - Determine to what extent process flows, use cases, wireframes, data points and rules will be captured as part of the requirements process. Evaluate various models to determine the ideal approach for capturing requirements and providing traceability.

9) Perform Technical Foundation Work - Define an underlying conceptual architecture that enables long-term systems flexibility, and create SDLC design and specification templates.

10) Prepare Orientation Materials - Develop background material on the organization and the PAS program in order to facilitate the process of on-boarding and orienting program resources.

For carriers that are willing to invest tens of millions of dollars over several years in order to reap the benefits associated with a policy administration replacement, it is imperative that they recognize the importance of bridging the gap between strategy and execution. Before you start your PAS implementation, be sure to invest the appropriate amount of time and energy mobilizing the organization in order to lay the foundation for executing, measuring progress and delivering results. Can you really afford not to do so?

(Editor's Note: Click on the following links to read Part 1Part 2 and Part 3 of this series.)

Imran Ilyas, partner with PwC's Diamond Advisory Services insurance practice, coauthored this piece with Frank Wittman, director, PwC’s Diamond Advisory Services.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Imran using the “Add Your Comments” box below. 

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

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

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