Case Study Highlight: Transitioning to Agile at Unum

Mitch Wein

As we approach the announcement of the Novarica Impact Awards in the fall, we will be highlighting one Impact Award nominee each week on our blog. The Novarica Impact Awards are voted on by over 300 members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, making them the only purely peer-reviewed awards program in insurance technology.

Many of the 2016 Impact Awards nominees cited cross-functional teams, with resources familiar with multiple business areas, and the use of Agile methodology as keys to a quick and successful delivery. Common among many projects was a focus on operational transparency, overcoming internal challenges, improving relationships, and cost savings.

This week, we look at an Unum initiative to transition to Agile.

Unum wanted to drive growth and adapt to evolving customer expectations. An Agile operating model would allow Unum the flexibility to quickly respond to market changes and deliver increased value to business partners. The multi-year project began in 2014 and by the end of 2015, Unum had established all Agile teams and trained 85% of members. While adjusting to cultural and organizational change was a challenge, the project team notes that empowering employees to help define and influence areas of change was key to the success of the initiative. Strong leadership, commitment from business partners, and transparent communications were also important to incorporate feedback and course-correct as needed.

For more detail on this project and more than 30 others, including cases from Glatfelter, Prudential, The Hartford, and Homesite, see Novarica’s Best Practices Case Study Compendium 2016.

Case Study Highlight: Enterprise Operational Analytics at Trustmark

Rob McIsaac

As we approach the announcement of the Novarica Impact Awards in the fall, we will be highlighting one Impact Award nominee each week on our blog. The Novarica Impact Awards are voted on by over 300 members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, making them the only purely peer-reviewed awards program in insurance technology.

Many of the 2016 Impact Awards nominees cited cross-functional teams, with resources familiar with multiple business areas, and the use of Agile methodology as keys to a quick and successful delivery. Many projects focused on consolidation and speed, combining disparate data silos and core systems to enable centralized access and real-time querying.

This week, we look at a Trustmark initiative to enhance enterprise operational analytics.

The Trustmark Voluntary Benefit Solutions Division needed improved information management and analytical capabilities in order to make better business decisions. The organization created dashboards to track progress against operational KPIs with the goal of aligning analytics with enterprise objectives. The 12-month project utilized Agile methodology and resulted in the creation of a “data-driven culture”, both of which the team cites as critical to project execution. The team also attributes success to business leadership, as well as the use of concrete goals and metrics to improve data architecture and quality. As a result of the initiative, complex payment processes were reduced from 35% to 26%. The project also reduced past-due bills by 18% and reconciled over $1 million in missing payments.

For more detail on this project and more than 30 others, including cases from Amerisure, Tokio Marine HCC, Glatfelter, and Merchants Mutual, see Novarica’s Best Practices Case Study Compendium 2016.

Case Study Highlight: Core Systems Replacement at CSAA

Chuck Ruzicka

As we approach the announcement of the Novarica Impact Awards in the fall, we will be highlighting one Impact Award nominee each week on our blog. The Novarica Impact Awards are voted on by over 300 members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, making them the only purely peer-reviewed awards program in insurance technology.

Many of the 2016 Impact Awards nominees cited cross-functional teams, with resources familiar with multiple business areas, and the use of Agile methodology as keys to a quick and successful delivery. Many projects focused on systems consolidation and speed, combining disparate core systems to improve product development and time to market.

This week, we look at a CSAA core systems replacement initiative.

Multiple acquisitions and expanded partnerships among AAA regional clubs left CSAA with a large, complicated integration architecture that spanned multiple legacy core systems. CSAA needed to replace and consolidate these systems in order to improve infrastructure and policy service, as well as cut costs while laying the groundwork for growth. The project required over fifty internal and external integrations of the organization’s six PAS and three billing systems. While this was a substantial organizational challenge, the company ultimately credits success to its prioritization of the project and use of top project management. Moving program analysts into sustaining operations roles and establishing support and advisory were also key factors. Ultimately, the replacement initiative reduced time-to-market for new products by 50% and decreased underwriting expense ratio by 1%. CSAA also reported a savings of $26 million as a result of retiring two legacy systems, and its DPW increased from $2.6 billion to $3.2 billion.

For more detail on this project and more than 30 others, including cases from MetLife, AIG, Michigan Millers, and Aflac, see Novarica’s Best Practices Case Study Compendium 2016.

Case Study Highlight: Enterprise Data at Farm Bureau Financial

Jeff Goldberg

As we approach the announcement of the Novarica Impact Awards in the fall, we will be highlighting one Impact Award nominee each week on our blog. The Novarica Impact Awards are voted on by over 300 members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, making them the only purely peer-reviewed awards program in insurance technology.

Many of the 2016 Impact Awards nominees cited cross-functional teams, with resources familiar with multiple business areas, and the use of Agile methodology as keys to a quick and successful delivery. Many projects focused on consolidation and speed, combining disparate data silos and core systems to enable centralized access and real-time querying.

This week, we look at an enterprise data initiative at Farm Bureau Financial Services.

Farm Bureau Financial Services needed to improve its data integration capabilities as part of a larger life insurance core systems replacement project. To address this issue, the company built a hub-and-spoke architecture to consolidate more than 30 data integration points between disparate systems. The team executed the project through a series of Agile iterations, and the integration layer was ready for deployment in July 2015. The project reduced report run time from over an hour to three minutes, and time to produce complex data reports decreased from two weeks to an hour. Design time was cut from multiple months to two weeks, and consuming systems are now able to retrieve data in near real-time as opposed to batch feeds. Defining long-term strategy and enterprise architecture and articulation of the goal state were crucial to help the team stay focused. The team also attributes success to support from executive management, as well as education and assistance from its vendor partner.

For more detail on this project and more than 30 others, including cases from MetLife, Amerisure, Merchants Mutual, and Trustmark, see Novarica’s Best Practices Case Study Compendium 2016.

Case Study Highlight: Self-Service for Claimants & Partners at Homesite

Martina Conlon

As we approach the announcement of the Novarica Impact Awards in the fall, we will be highlighting one Impact Award nominee each week on our blog. The Novarica Impact Awards are voted on by over 300 members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, making them the only purely peer-reviewed awards program in insurance technology.

The 2016 Impact Awards nominees consistently cited cross-functional teams, with resources familiar with multiple business areas, and the use of Agile methodology as keys to a quick and successful delivery. Many projects focused on self-service capabilities, multi-channel applications, and data infrastructure to facilitate cross-departmental access.

This week, we look at a Homesite project that enabled self-service for claimants and partners.

Homesite wanted to provide better service to claimants and partners during catastrophe events, with the goal of improving customer experience, operational efficiency, and cat resource capabilities. The project built a strong relationship between IT and business units, which the team credits as a key success factor. Homesite also cites collaboration between the company and its vendors and business partners as crucial. The lessons learned from the project helped team members focus scope and understand industry standard technologies. It also eliminated manual rekeying associated with 33% of incoming FNOL volume and increased scalability during times of high claim volume. The project is ultimately expected to save the company $1 million over the course of eight years.

For more detail on this project and more than 30 others, including cases from AIG, MetLife, Heritage, and Glatfelter, see Novarica’s Best Practices Case Study Compendium 2016.

Case Study Highlight: Infrastructure Optimization at the Hartford

Don Metz

As we approach the announcement of the Novarica Impact Awards in the fall, we will be highlighting one Impact Award nominee each week on our blog. The Novarica Impact Awards are voted on by over 300 members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, making them the only purely peer-reviewed awards program in insurance technology.

Many of the 2016 Impact Awards nominees cited cross-functional teams, with resources familiar with multiple business areas, and the use of Agile methodology as keys to a quick and successful delivery. Common among many projects was a focus on operational transparency, overcoming internal challenges, improving relationships, and cost savings.

This week, we look at The Hartford’s initiative to optimize application infrastructure.

The Hartford Group Benefits division needed to optimize application infrastructure in order to decrease the total cost of maintaining the environment. The project team faced disparate data sources, an outdated application inventory, and lack of standardization within the application infrastructure. Tracking templates and assigning support helped to overcome these issues, as well as improvements in resource time and commitment to the application environment. The team cites the ability to quickly identify and execute opportunities and the savings to come from future investments in the infrastructure as further success factors. The resulting application infrastructure improved the TCO/lifetime value of the environment and reduced storage and server costs by 8% annually. The migration to a private cloud model saved 2-3%, and decommissioning physical servers saved an additional 2%. Finally, database optimization saved the company 3-4% annually.

For more detail on this project and more than 30 others, including cases from MetLife, Tokio Marine HCC, Prudential, and Unum, see Novarica’s Best Practices Case Study Compendium 2016.

Case Study Highlight: Rapid Product Launch at Legal and General

Tom Benton

As we approach the announcement of the Novarica Impact Awards in the fall, we will be highlighting one Impact Award nominee each week on our blog. The Novarica Impact Awards are voted on by over 300 members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, making them the only purely peer-reviewed awards program in insurance technology.

2016 Impact Awards nominees consistently cited cross-functional teams, resources familiar with multiple business areas, and the use of Agile methodology as keys to a quick and successful delivery. Many projects focused on systems consolidation and speed, combining disparate core systems to improve product development and time to market.

This week, we look at a Legal and General initiative to enable rapid product launch.

Legal and General sought to expand the reach and market presence of its pension risk transfer product within the United States. Legal and General updated existing systems to include 90% of the most common retirement and annuity products in just 100 days. Agile methodology and program structure created a common team understanding of the initiative, and both were critical to the rapid delivery of the project. The team also notes that internal communication was always open, frequent, and responsive, and that executive support from the project sponsor was consistently supportive. Subject matter experts that provided user feedback were also valuable assets to the project. The finished project includes improved payment processing, new business onboarding, and product build-out. Despite its short timeline, the project remained on budget at $1 million and also changed 80 COBOL and 150 Delphi programs. Since its delivery, the new system has allowed for the addition of over $500 million in new business within six months.

For more detail on this project and more than 30 others, including cases from Aflac, Heritage, Michigan Millers, and Trustmark, see Novarica’s Best Practices Case Study Compendium 2016.

Case Study Highlight: Enabling One-Day Health Claims Payments at Aflac

Matthew Josefowicz

As we approach the announcement of the Novarica Impact Awards in the fall, we will be highlighting one Impact Award nominee each week on our blog. The Novarica Impact Awards are voted on by over 300 members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, making them the only purely peer-reviewed awards program in insurance technology.

Many of this year’s impact award nominees share some common characteristics – the use of Agile methodology, a focus on communication, strong executive support, and planning for substantial user training as a key part of unlocking value creation.

This week, we look at an Aflac project to enable one-day health claims payments.

The One Day PaySM initiative was a response to a direct challenge from Aflac’s CEO to create a unique claims payment process. Aflac’s goal was to reduce average claims processing time from four days to one. Over the course of the 12 month project, Aflac used Agile methodology to ensure delivery and quality, which they credited with enabling their speedy delivery and enhancing collaboration between IT and business teams, especially when supported by co-location of IT and other business units. The lessons learned have since been applied to a full restructuring of the IT organization. The project has resulted in 87% of online claims meeting One Day Pay requirements—a year-over-year increase of 43%. Customers submitting claims online reported a satisfaction rate of 91%. The direct deposit capability also reduced the company’s carbon footprint, saving an estimated 16,000lb of paper.

For more detail on this project and more than 30 others, including cases from MetLife, Prudential, The Hartford, and Trustmark, see Novarica’s Best Practices Case Study Compendium 2016.

Common Characteristics of Successful IT Initiatives

Matthew Josefowicz

Our fifth annual Novarica Impact Awards are underway, which recognize impactful IT initiatives executed by insurer CIOs and their teams. More than 30 initiatives qualified for this year’s Impact Awards across data, digital, core systems, and IT best practices. Case study subjects include AIG, CSAA, Everest, Great American, GuideOne, Homesite, Merchants, NORCAL, AFLAC, MetLife, Prudential, The Hartford, Trustmark, Unum, and more. Among the qualifying initiatives, some commonalities emerge that reflect the changing state of IT in the insurance industry.

Executive Support

A consistent factor in successful projects was support from executive leaders. Strong executive support ensured the coordination and communication necessary to execute complex cross-departmental projects. The vision of executive leaders was also important in clearly defining project goals and benefits for all departments within a particular carrier.

Training

A key component of many projects was ensuring that employees received necessary training. In some cases, this was practical: users needed to know how to use a new feature effectively. However, many projects needed to overcome resistance from prevailing corporate culture and reluctance to embrace change.

Effective Communication

In order to overcome internal resistance and ensure cross-departmental coordination, clear communication was essential to many projects. In many cases, demonstrating the benefits of new technology was a key factor in overcoming resistance to change. Many projects also required interfacing between multiple internal carrier departments as well as frequent coordination with external units.

Agile Development

Insurers whose projects used Agile development methodologies realized gains in time to delivery, project costs, transparency, and improved communication between IT and business units. Agile helped many teams manage large projects while staying flexible. In particular, Agile helped kept multi-part projects on schedule, as distinct project components could be completed in parallel. Agile also helped project teams adapt on the fly to changing requirements during the development process.

Voting is currently open to members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council, and winners will be announced in the fall. To learn more about the Research Council, check out http://novarica.com/council.

Related reports:

  • Novarica Impact Awards 2015

    Matthew Josefowicz


    Today we announced the nominating committee for the 2015 Novarica Research Council Impact Awards.

    This will be our 4th annual celebration of case studies of effective technology initiatives by insurers, as recognized by a peer jury of hundreds of insurer CIO members of the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council.

    An average of 40 case studies per year are submitted for publication in our annual Case Study Compendium, and the best ones are nominated for awards by our committee of CIOs. Unlike other industry awards, no vendors, journalists, or consultants (including the Novarica team) have a vote in selecting nominees or winners.

    Past nominees and winners include: AIG, American Safety, Allstate Life & Retirement, Amica, Assurant, Brickstreet Mutual, Capitol, Cincinnati Financial, Encompass Insurance, Erie Insurance, Foresters, Great American Insurance Group, ICW, Legal & General of America, Oregon Mutual, Patriot National, Penn Mutual, PURE Insurance, RLI Insurance, Tokio Marine, XL Group, Zurich North America, and others.

    Rules and submission forms are online at http://www.novarica.com/impact2015

    We’re looking forward to hearing about your successes and honoring them next spring! Please contact us at inquiry@novarica.com with any questions.