Policy Administration

01:07 PM
Aaron Herrmann
Aaron Herrmann
Commentary
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Defining Insurance Speed to Market

The first step in quantifying speed-to-market is establishing a baseline by mapping and measuring current workflows that are used to change existing products and bring new products to market.

Speed-to-market is a common insurance buzzword, but there is little consensus on what it really means. However, it has tangible characteristics every insurer should realize, especially when it comes to the creation of new insurance products.

The ambiguity inherent to speed-to-market references typically makes it possible for any technology vendor to attribute it to any solution. So, what are the magic ingredients in the speed-to-market recipe? Any technology that claims to deliver speed-to-market must be able to significantly, and positively, impact current product definition workflows, project duration from kick-off to go-live, and the number of resources and hours necessary to successfully implement a solution.

Map and measure
The first step in quantifying speed-to-market is establishing a baseline by mapping and measuring current workflows that are used to change existing products and bring new products to market. Taken side-by-side, with timelines and associated costs, new or modified workflows should offer reductions in the number of full-time employees and the number of overall resource hours required to execute a change or create a new product and improve the overall time to market for a finished product. While somewhat tedious, mapping and measuring the time it takes to complete existing processes can create the ability to look backward after an implementation and determine just how successful vendors are when delivering on promises as opposed to expectations.

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One way both timelines and workflows can be improved is by implementing a modern core administration system which comes out-of-the-box with insurance content such as ISO or NCCI rates, rules, and forms, pre-configured for all needed jurisdictions. In this case, insurers can then focus on deviations from this content, rather than on creating and configuring systems to manage the content. When insurance content such as bureau-based content is instantly available, and all functions from submission through issuance to cancellation or renewal are on a single integrated platform, projections for how long product modifications will take are reduced to days from weeks, and bringing up new products is reduced from years to months.

Clarify and agree
As a business executive, the disconnect between requirements, specifications, and the solution ultimately implemented and presented for QA testing can be extremely frustrating. Such disconnects can cause missed deadlines, scope creep, cost overruns, and worst case, project failures. Today, tools available with modern insurance software solutions enable insurers to implement in a more agile fashion, and requirements don't have to be 100% fully defined before projects are started. To be successful in a more iterative implementation approach, decisions need to be made along the way on how things should look or behave.

Rather than making decisions by committee, insurers need to have an executive project sponsor who is empowered to make unilateral decisions when needed. In addition, prior to the project kick off, members of the executive team should sit down with the project stakeholders to gain consensus about existing perceptions and forward-looking expectations. Having an environment that facilitates real-time collaboration between business users and the IT professionals actually configuring the solution, having an executive sponsor empowered to make unilateral project decisions, and pre-setting perceptions about the current state and the end goal are all key ingredients in the speed-to-market recipe.

Reuse and reconfigure
The most modern core administration solutions are built on component-based configuration platforms that allow business analysts to establish reusable building blocks and repeatable processes. This is essential because it means insurers will save time by not reinventing the wheel each time a software component is configured or a process is defined. For example, if an address component is created that validates the accuracy of a location through geocoding via Bing or Google Maps, this same address component should be reusable for the insured's mailing address, building location, and agent's address. Then, if there is a ZIP code change adding an additional digit, the analyst only has to go to one place to make a change that effects all components in the system that uses a ZIP code.

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Leveraging reusable components also empowers business users in defining requirements and BAs performing the configurations by creating standards as to how certain screen and data elements will behave. This significantly shortens the decision process about how to configure or change screens, business rules, and workflows. In addition, as solution components are standardized, the product definition process gets faster and faster, accelerating the implementation of subsequent lines of business due to the inevitable re-use of components and rules across similar products and lines of business.

In conclusion, at the heart of speed-to-market is the ability, with minimal training, for business users to be able to design new product variations from the ground up or make changes immediately while maintaining the internal control and quality that the stakeholders expect. Today's competitive insurance landscape is being dominated by insurers that are nimble and able to quickly react to market changes. Inability to react to market needs is a great risk to your book of business, and obtaining a modern core insurance platform that promotes speed to market will enable your organization to compete on this frontier. When evaluating your ability to deliver solutions quickly to your agents and insureds, remember these key ingredients and benchmarks for achieving true speed-to-market.

Aaron oversees all Sales and Marketing efforts, including new client sales, vendor marketing, reselling, and implementation service partnerships, for insurance software provider Cover-All. Aaron started with Cover-All in 2012 as a vice president in the sales division, and was ... View Full Bio

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Kelly22
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Kelly22,
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10/23/2014 | 5:33:22 PM
IT/business collaboration
Interesting article, Andy. As you note, a strong business/IT relationship is so important in developing products and improving speed to market. The more the two units communicate, the faster they can deliver products that meet the most current market demands. 
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
10/19/2014 | 10:36:31 PM
The business case
Thanks Aaron. All insurers want to demonstrate that they are nimble in the market, which is why speed to market is such a popular buzzword. However it is interesting that you talk about Bing and Google Maps in your entry. It seems more like those techs go toward speed of distribution rather than speed to market of new policies. but surely there is a place for such techs at many places on the back end.
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