We hope you had a chance to read Insider Tips: Switching Agency Management Systems – Pt. 1 and found the information to be helpful as you consider migrating to a new agency management system.
In case you haven’t read part 1, we asked Abby Larson, Sr. Manager of Implementation Services at Applied Systems, the most frequently asked questions around migrating to a new system in this two part series to give you an idea of what to expect during the implementation process.
Applied Communications: What is something agencies commonly look back on in the process and wish they would have done differently?
Abby Larson: Hindsight is always 20/20 and while you won't be able to accomplish everything you want to do before activation, having the right perspective on what can be done ahead of time is key. Based on the feedback we’ve received over the years, the unanimous response is that organizations thought this would be an easy “upgrade” and wished they had managed the change with their staff better and better prepared them for the transition to a new management system.
Understanding that this transition is probably the biggest change your employees may ever go through at your organization is important. Changing from one management system to another is a bit like trying to ride a unicycle after only riding bicycles for years. The features and functions of your daily tasks will change (for the better) in Applied Epic®. Taking the review periods, the training opportunities, and practice time seriously will benefit you in the end. You'll get out of this what you put into it.
Applied: As agencies deploy the Digital Agency solution, what are the benefits of processing certificates in Applied CSR24 compared to Applied Epic?
Abby: Choosing to process certificates in Applied CSR24® allows your organization to offer insureds the ability to issue their own certificates in real time. There are a number of areas that can be configured in Applied CSR24 that will allow for consistent certificate issuance. Some of the key features include:
- Library of wording for description of operations
- Multiple policies under one coverage area if needed
- Library of attachment forms including carrier endorsements
- Certificate attachments as PDFs can be configured to a template that pulls in insured details
Applied: How can business owners market their customer self-service portal and mobile app to their insureds?
Abby: There are a number of benefits for your insureds to use these self-service tools including the ability to access their information 24/7. Train your staff to show clients how your online self-service application can enhance their service experience. For a successful launch, your organization can choose to make this announcement by piloting to specific customers or niche markets. We have also seen a variety of other methods to communicate these self-service tools with insureds, including targeted emails, website landing page, phone system message, social media posts and email signature taglines.
Applied: How long will it take to implement the Digital Agency solution?
Abby: There’s no one answer to this question. On average, we see our customers taking around eight months from project start to go live, with the benefit of a longer timeline being more time to invest in training and configuration, as well as to take advantage of data conversion opportunities provided by Applied. Some organizations choose a much shorter timeline than this, some as little as one month from project start, understanding that full implementation of a management system truly continues for months after activation. There are a number of factors and qualifiers to determine what the right timeframe is for your organization, and we have seen every scenario and every timeline imaginable. We are here to talk through the options with you.
Applied: Who is the best person at an organization to lead the implementation project and which other members of the team should be involved in the project?
Abby: You will want to choose a clear project lead, the person who is ultimately responsible for seeing the project through to completion. Your project lead doesn’t necessarily need to have previous software implementation experience, but you will want to be selective to put the right person in this role. You'll want your project lead to be a good communicator, a good delegator, able to hold the group accountable to make decisions, organized, able to stick to deadlines, empathetic, supportive, and cool under pressure. Also important is to realize that no matter how large or small your organization is, this project will require effort from more than just this one person. It’s a team effort. You will need proper representation across all divisions of the organization on this core team. Choose people who are involved in the day-to-day insurance processing (operations, servicing and/or accounting), who have different strengths, who are detail-oriented but can also see the bigger picture, and who all work well together as a team. Your core team will be able to lean on each other, count on each other and work together to support the staff through this change.
To learn how investing in digital transformation can benefit your agency, view these additional resources.
Abby Larson, Sr. Manager of Implementation Services, is a leader on Applied’s Primary Implementation Team, a team committed to successfully leading agencies and brokers through implementation of new software solutions. Abby joined the Applied team in August 2010 as an Implementation Lead starting first with managing Applied TAM to Applied TAMCloud and new Applied TAM system implementations before transitioning to Applied Epic implementation projects in 2012 and then moving into Management in 2014. Abby was recognized by her peers in 2014 and received the Circle of Excellence award, Applied’s highest employee honor. Prior to joining Applied, Abby was the Director of Operations for the Chicagoland branch of Dale Carnegie Training, also holding Sales and Marketing roles in her six years there. She holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.