3 ways to prep an insurance company for modernization

The digital revolution has forced many large organizations to modernize their frontend application platforms even though the downstream and backend platforms are in many cases archaic mainframe-based systems. Difficulty achieving speed-to-market is in part due to the complexity of downstream data processes, which can be the result of downstream adaptation over multiple generations of front end modernization. Systems built on outdated mainframe technology are increasingly difficult to retain or onboard IT talent to maintain. And, last but not least, disseminated processes and non-standard data formats requiring additional effort and costs to maintain high data quality and application management.

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These systems, while critical to an organization, may not obtain the necessary approvals for upgrades due largely to an inability to justify the return on investment for modernization. In a number of cases, organizations can struggle to articulate a business case to replace these legacy backend systems. Here are three key learnings I’ve noted over my career to help build a convincing business case to replace legacy backend systems and help ensure the initiative has support.

Business Alignment – It’s critical to help ensure that business strategy and objectives are aligned with the downstream modernization initiative and that both business and IT stakeholders are involved early in the process.

Collaborating with colleagues on the business case from the beginning can help strengthen the case by having documented organizational benefits alongside the benefits to operational and IT efficiencies. The involvement of business stakeholders in building the business case can help ensure their joint commitment, accountability and support while presenting the case for funding approvals.

Leadership Buy-In – In my opinion, most modernization programs are in technical debt. And, although the benefits may help strengthen the business case, the return on investment may not be realized for several years which may in some cases discourage leadership from investing in these kind of programs.

In most situations, you may be able to earn the support of business and IT leadership by demonstrating the importance of getting rid of downstream technical debts to help truly leverage the potential of frontend application transformation and the investment being made in the frontend. The same applies to other IT stakeholders who could be impacted by the downstream modernization. Their alignment is also critical for the success of the business case.

Hard & Soft Benefits - In today’s world, a key focus of a number of CIOs is operational efficiencies. There is lot of scrutiny around IT spend, so it may be important to look for ways to harden the economic proposal with a list of tangible and intangible benefits to bolster the business case.

To help strengthen the business case, I’ve found over my career it is important to go beyond the traditional return on investment calculations and include the cost of missed opportunities of not modernizing. Also, factor in the opportunity cost of other critical challenges with legacy applications where the benefits of using agile practices such as DataOps are missed.

While the landscape, priorities, budgets and politics may be different in every organization, I’m confident you can apply some of what I’ve learned to help in the process of building a legacy downstream data modernization business case.

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