As anyone who has worked with these systems knows, moving or migrating policy administration systems is an extremely non-trivial task. These systems are connected with every other system and department in the organization, and when it comes time to make a change, a lot of planning, negotiating and hand-holding will be required. That's just the nature of the beast.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk about the issues that crop up in policy admin migrations with Celent analyst Donald Light, as part of preparing a piece on the “10 Questions that Need to be Asked When Moving to a New Policy Administration System” for the current issue of Insurance Networking News.
When making the move to a new system, many organizations fail to consider the amount of time people will be spending on the new system, Light observes. Typically, implementation contracts “don’t include the cost of staff time, both IT and the business,” he says. “There’s a lot of time and effort that IT staff has to spend making sure outside parties, vendors, understand the kind of systems environment that it's being brought into, and setting up integration methods.”
The fact that most of the insurance companies employees involved with the project still have full-time job duties to attend to is also often overlooked, Light says. “If somebody's working for half time or full time on the implementation, whose going to do their day job?”
The key to a successful policy admin system project is to plan, plan, plan, he continues. Issues such as unexpected staff time and integration issues “may come back to bite you.”
Underwriting and policy service are the parts of the business most directly affected, of course. Light cautions that other parts of the business that need to be involved in the planning process include finance, claims and reporting.
Light provides advice to keep a policy administration system move from disrupting the business. “Create really fine-grained requirements and specifications for what the system will do,” he says. These requirements outline what the company will do and what the vendor is responsible for. Also, he advises, prepare the IT team to for the change – even if the package is being installed and implemented by someone else. “There’s still a lot of time and effort that IT staff has to spend making sure those outside parties, vendors, understand the kind of systems environment that its being brought into, and setting up integration methods.”
Remember, the new system may look and sound nice and shiny and efficient, but to make it work that way, the surrounding people and processes have to be ready.
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.
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