In its quest to become a "digital life company," Greensboro, N.C.-based Jefferson Pilot Financial (JPF; approximately $34 billion in assets) has been intent on enhancing the efforts of its all-important producer constituency. So when producers complained about service, management listened.
"We started to look for initiatives that would help us lower costs, improve overall quality and make us more efficient," says Cindy Swank, vice president, lean management and strategic project office, of the effort that began about three years ago. "When a producer called looking for information, it was a grand paper chase, so we were looking to get rid of paper."
This coincided with the creation of the carrier's Premier Partner Strategy: "to provide top-tier service to those producers who give us the majority of their business," explains Swank.
This could not be achieved by imaging technology alone, she notes. "A combination of imaging along with workflow distribution was critical." The guiding concept was what Swank calls "lean thinking and manufacturing. The idea is to eliminate waste throughout the organization."
JPF found the desired features in Kansas City, Mo.-based DST Technologies' Automated Work Distributor (AWD) business process management system, and selected it in 2002 in conjunction with Austin, Texas-based CSC, which has been the exclusive licenser of AWD to the life insurance industry since 1993. Implementation started with "evaluation of [JPF's] processes and how can they be redesigned to maximize the benefit of the technology," says Chris Rice, assistant vice president, lean manufacturing and strategic project office (he and Swank were the implementation project leaders).
AWD went live in JPF's annuity operations in October 2002, and in the customer service and new business areas about a year later. To date about 600 users are involved, and the insurer now is determining a schedule for rollouts to other business areas, including about 40 seats in licensing/contracting and 25 seats in claims operations.
The system truly has helped JPF transform its operations. "We had to look at over 450 distinct processes that go on in issuing and servicing individual life and annuity policies," Rice says. "That alone gave us an opportunity to find efficiencies. Before, metrics-gathering was a manual effort." But AWD allows JPF to do this randomly based on a predetermined percent of all work. "Now, AWD captures the information and gives us very detailed performance metrics, as well as the quality of work they do." Head count reduction has been an additional benefit.
The goal of making the producers' lives easier also has been achieved. JPF recently surveyed key producers, "and there was not one comment about service," Swank reports. "Service levels have improved. This is a far different experience and a far better comfort level."
The implementation has not been without its stresses. JPF opted to go with a new release of AWD, and the implementation process included "a concerted effort from Jefferson Pilot, DST and CSC to identify and fix bugs in the software," Swank says. "The good news is we got through it, but it was painful at the time. We are glad we did not try to go with the old system and then convert - we still are ahead of the game."
Case Study Profile
Jefferson Pilot Financial (Greensboro, N.C.; 2004 2Q assets of approximately $34 billion).
Lines of Business
Life insurance, annuities, securities and variable insurance products.
CSC (Austin, Texas); DST Technologies' (Kansas City, Mo.) Automated Work Distributor (AWD)
Eliminate paper, gain operational efficiencies, improve service to producers and track detailed performance metrics.