It is generally agreed that policy administration systems should keep business rules separate from the programmed application behavior and provide easy access to business rules so that users can view and change them directly, without the need for programming or database changes. The rules that govern user experience and integration with external systems are also increasingly controlled through configuration so that they can be easily changed and are not impacted when there is a new software release.
At a minimum, most insurers require the ability to simultaneously configure multiple sets of rule changes. Also needed are the means for dealing with frequently occurring complications. For example, an operationally effective way must be provided for altering the planned sequence of changes to be introduced when a filing is not approved in time.
In the past, when the rules used to be imbedded in the software, various source control applications such as the open source Subversion and Visual SourceSafe by Microsoft were employed to manage rule changes along with changes to software. Even with the serious shortcomings mentioned below, that approach provided the required basic controls which are often perilously missing in some newer configurable systems.
As a simple example of rule management needs, consider an insurance product for which one set of rule changes are to become effective in June and another set in July. To prepare these sets of changes simultaneously, the configuration staff typically creates two new rule versions that are both based on the May version and then makes the required changes in each. When ready, the June version is tested on its own. However, due to the assumed order of implementation, the July version is tested after merging into it the changes from the June version. Now, if the order in which these two versions proceed to production is reversed, there will be a need to “unmerge” the June changes from the July version, test the July version on its own, and then merge its changes into the changes that are in the June version (which may now be referred to as the “August version”) and then test the resulting combined version.
Insurers also need to control how a new rule version may apply to existing policies. For example, it may be desired to make the June version above apply to existing policies only at renewal while the July version may be made applicable to all transactions. Often, changes for the same effective date need to be grouped in two versions so that they can be assigned different applicability settings.
Source control applications which are built to be used by programmers are not a good fit for these needs. They are difficult to use for rule management since they track both software and rule changes. They are also particularly lacking when it comes to merging two versions that both have changes in the same parts of the code. In those cases, the changes must be merged manually which is laborious and error prone.
With PolicyWriter, Adaptik has sought to go beyond the functionality of source control applications and create a comprehensive set of change control capabilities specifically designed for effective rule management. PolicyWriter users who configure the rules and who manage configuration versions don’t need to be programmers. All the functions to support the examples given above and more are provided via a business friendly user interface within a true multi-user environment. Any configuration version can be modified, deleted, and moved to a different date. When needed, a powerful merge function automatically combines the changes from two configuration versions after comparing each of their elements. A detailed business-friendly report about the way any encountered conflicts are resolved is also provided.
Configuration has become the nerve center of modern policy administration applications given the frequent changes due to state regulatory requirements, competition among insurers, and the new opportunities for improving user experience and reaching customers through alternate channels. Therefore, an effective configuration change management facility is both an operational necessity and a competitive tool.
Contact us to learn more about PolicyWriter, and what it can do for your business.
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