Integrate your information strategy with your operational systems!


As I mentioned in an earlier post, having an information strategy and analytic goals tied to key business objectives are critical components of being able to competitively leverage your analytic assets and capabilities. In general, in the insurance industry vertical I support, we don’t see many organizations that have a clearly defined analytic strategy, let alone analytic or information deliverables embedded in their business initiatives.

Imagine how thrilled I was to talk to one of our insurance clients recently who really understood the value of coupling their business projects with their information strategy. This insurer was in the process of installing a new policy administration system (PAS). Now, for those of you not in the insurance industry, this is a big deal. The administration system is the heartbeat of all the technology systems in the company – it’s the central brain for all your policy post-issuance data, including everything from product, coverage and exposure data, customer information and agent data. It ties into most of the other operational systems: claims, agency management, RQI (rate-quote-issue) systems, for example. With all of the data contained in this big technology brain, it seems foolhardy to not align information delivery with the implementation so that you can begin to mine all of this fantastic data.

Yet few insurers do – PAS upgrades are generally multi-year, multi-million dollar projects, and with any large scale technology project, cost and time overruns are common. When it comes down to the wire, information based projects (such as data warehousing initiatives) tied to the implementation are often de-scoped or scrapped to ensure that the implementation aligns better with a project schedule or budget, the thought being that the information delivery project can be picked up at a later date. More often than not, though, limited thought is given to the information needs or requirements, and post-implementation, the PAS data isn’t in a format that’s easily consumed, or needed data elements may not be persistent in the system. Backfilling information delivery requirements down the road can be expensive and time consuming.

Back to my happy example – this insurer’s data-warehousing roadmap directly aligned with the implementation of their new PAS. Information consumers participated in the requirements gathering so that necessary data elements would be captured in the warehouse as the new system was being built. They will drive intelligence out of their operational system that will ultimately be used in new high-value business initiatives to offer new services or products to customers and agents, increase retention of profitable customers and better manage and monitor exposure and risk.

Keep in mind, that the PAS in this post is just an example. Tie information strategies to every operational system upgrade or new system (the insurer in this case also had a strategy tied to the implementation of their new claims system as well). Define analytic objectives, capture information requirements across multiple functional areas of the organization, and rationalize those needs in relation to the information delivery component of the new operational system. At the minimum, even if your information delivery project becomes de-scoped, you will be better positioned to pick it up when the time is right.


About Author

Rachel Alt-Simmons

Business Transformation Lead - Customer Intelligence Practice

Rachel Alt-Simmons is a business transformation practitioner whose expertise extends to operationalizing analytic capabilities vertically and horizontally through organizations. As the Business Transformation Lead for customer analytics at SAS Institute, she is responsible for redesign and optimization of operational analytic workflow, business process redesign, training/knowledge transfer, and change management strategies for customers. Prior to SAS, Rachel served as Assistant Vice President, Center of Excellence, Enterprise Business Intelligence & Analytics at Travelers, and as Director, BI & Analytics, Global Wealth Management at The Hartford. Rachel Alt-Simmons is a certified Project Management Professional, certified Agile Practitioner, Six Sigma Black Belt, certified Lean Master, and holds a post as adjunct professor of computer science at Boston University’s Metropolitan College. She received her master’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Boston University.

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