The Connected Business of Insurance
July 31, 2015
Today, you are currently facing a number of changes in the industry – increasing industry consolidation, the evolving workforce and new consumer experience expectations. You are required to do more with less time, particularly smaller agencies or brokerages where individuals are asked to fill multiple roles and manage many disparate tasks. To ensure maximum productivity and technology gains, agencies and brokerages are reviewing their internal technology strategies to ensure their systems are advanced and flexible enough to respond quickly to new market opportunities.
Adopting or switching technology can be a daunting task – there are a number of associated resource requirements and expenses with these projects that require thoughtful consideration and planning. When evaluating implementation approaches and methodology, there are two distinct ways to view the move-forward strategy: one is focused on the best steps to champion change and the other lacks clear focus and purpose which can lead to a challenging transition. As shown below, these are two diverging paths – one ultimately leads to recognized benefit from the technology investment while the other leads to team frustration and adverse productivity.
How to Become a Change Champion at Your Agency or Brokerage
When evaluating if it is the right time to make a technology change – whether adopting a new self-service software or switching management systems – consider the following stages to success to become a change champion within your agency or brokerage:
- Awareness and Understanding:
Provide compelling business reasons for the change
As agencies and brokerages continue to evaluate their growth strategies – both organic and acquisitive – they are in tandem assessing their internal infrastructure to ensure it can support expansion. To support growth goals and continue to attract and retain new clients and employees, they require integrated software that delivers consistent workflows, standardized data, and a modern architecture that is scalable for growth. Consistent workflows provide your business with universal procedures across locations and office branches, as well as simplify employee on-boarding and training. Standardized data provides a single view into your agency’s or brokerage’s book of business, enabling you to better service your clients and identify opportunities to cross/upsell. Finally, as technology continues to become even more embedded across all enterprise functions, your business needs to look to software best built to integrate additional technologies such as mobile applications, business intelligence (BI) tools and customer self-service portals that will further drive business efficiencies and support superior client servicing.
- Engagement and Acceptance:
Change is a team effort – get everyone on board
In any organization, change management requires well-defined business benefits, objectives, and structured steps to be successful – and adopting new software is no different. Clearly communicating why change is needed and the benefits of implementing new software to all stakeholders in the transition helps to build buy-in from the start. Teams need to foster a partnership approach, examining strategic areas of the business to make operational, process and training improvements based on insurance technology best practices. Throughout the implementation process, your business will discover insights that increase ROI by optimizing business operations and service practices. Change is never easy, but by setting expectations and preparing your staff thoroughly, you can quickly derive benefits from your investment.
- Testing and Action:
How to avoid bumps in the road
Key focal points in your transition should be centered on data, workflows, staff education, and business continuity, ensuring that you maintain daily business operations to continue supporting clients and prospects. When beginning any software conversion, you should consider what data needs to be transitioned. When evaluating moving management systems, look at the process as being similar to moving to a new home: you take the time when moving to consider what items to move into your new home and what you no longer need; you don’t simply move everything from your existing home to the new one. When making the transition to a new management system, data quality is critical to your success. Also, focusing on workflow development can be critical in driving overall efficiency and reducing time spent onboarding employees to a new system. As implementation of a new management system can take up to several months, it is critical to involve employees consistently throughout the process. In doing so, your business can obtain critical insight on how your technology has been used to date and identify opportunities to better leverage your technology investment. Additionally, employees then feel more involved in the decision-making process and are motivated to support adoption of the new management system within your organization. I encourage you to identify “champions,” those eager and excited about the change, early in the transition process and involve them in every step along the way.
The means are worth the end
Many agencies and brokerages have been on the same systems for well over a decade, and their users are comfortable with the status quo. However, the benefits of modernizing agency and brokerage technologies outweigh the challenges of change. Advanced, integrated technology enables businesses to customize and automate operations, further improving staff productivity and allowing you to focus more time on attaining and servicing customers. The key to success is going in with realistic expectations, strong executive sponsorship, and a focused commitment to change.
What hesitations does your agency or brokerage face when it comes to changing technology, processes or procedures?
Kris Hackney, executive vice president of customer experience, is responsible for Applied’s customer delivery strategy and operational execution for the company’s Professional Services, Support and cloud-based solutions. She is the former vice president of Worldwide Enterprise Solutions & Services for Chicago-based SPSS Inc., a leading global provider of predictive analytics software and solutions, now part of IBM.