Slideshow 10 Best Practices for Precise IT Operations

  • June 10 2013, 12:32pm EDT
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Insurance companies are critically dependent on IT resources and system assets. The tools and processes outlined in Novarica's "IT Estimation Best Practices Checklist" can improve performance over time while reducing the barriers between functional organizations that need to closely collaborate, Novarica said. There are a range of factors that contribute to the effectiveness and accuracy of any modeling effort related to things as complex as the systems, people and products that comprise the typical insurance carrier’s operations. By carefully considering these factors as part of a holistic system of interrelationships, IT executives can significantly improve their organizational performance, especially with respect to estimates, Novarica said. "Unfortunately, many carrier IT organizations have become painted as being poor performers in this area. In discussions with CIO’s, we’ve found that they are similarly frustrated with the process for putting estimates together and are concerned about the impact on their own credibility," said author of the report Rob McIsaac. "Treating this as a “we/they" issue will be a losing proposition for IT organizations who may find themselves marginalized if they don’t take serious action to improve in this dimension. With that in mind, we developed our latest report to help CIO’s and their teams focus on practical, real-world actions that they can take which position them for success." The following is a checklist of 10 items that insurance IT units should bolster before expecting precise operations.

1. Relationships

Foster a strong working relationship with key business partners.

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2. Transparency

There are few situations where there is truly only one absolutely correct answer. By being open to the dialogue about how estimation tools and models work, IT organizations may learn things that have been hiding in plain sight due to pervasive organizational or functional silos.

3. Reporting

Develop a reporting history of estimation vs. actual results performance.

4. Make Reporting Routine

Routine reporting to show results and evaluate performance over time should become the norm rather than the exception.

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5. Dedicated Funding

Consider funding a project team designed solely to develop meaningful estimates for large projects.

6. Communication

Formalize and review a software development lifecycle and consider clarification of highly technical terms and key events to ensure appropriate participation and ownership.

7. Governance

Build a clear, controlled IT governance process so that business sponsors feel shared ownership for and investment in its success.

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8. Change Management

Work, and rework, with groups as they evolve an understanding of an end-state and its inherent implications, which can be a slow, expensive but worthwhile process.

9. Agile

Agile development practices have significant benefits for improving the overall delivery of functionality, but ongoing integration with an existing model requires care and collaboration.

10. Learnings

Lessons learned from each major project are important to gather and should be a routine part of moving an effort from inception to closure and post-production support.