Take a Business-Driven Approach to Continuous Improvement for Core Systems and Processes
Sean Sweeney | November 25, 2019
Escape rooms are becoming increasingly popular. A well-designed escape room will present its captives with a set of challenging problems that, when solved and pieced together, achieve the singular objective of the participants in the room—to escape. The creators of successful rooms can establish a puzzle with a clear correlation between solving a problem and the objective behind it. Essentially, the themes reflect the problems. If the creators threw a bunch of riddles in a room with no defined objective, they would significantly diminish the entertainment value of the game.
A property & casualty insurance carrier is much harder to organize than an escape room. Consequently, many P&C carriers utilize a problem-focused approach when maintaining and supporting their core systems. They fall into the trap of accumulating a list of problems with no correlation to overall business objectives and no clear path to continuous improvement. The objectives of organization do not often connect with the problems the support team deal with. How can they shift to a continuous improvement model rooted in overall a business objective? Can they escape the room?
Solving a problem in a vacuum is a reactive undertaking. How many times have you heard the question, “What is the business problem?” While it may feel overused, anyone who asks this question is likely on the right track. It correctly indicates the technical problem at hand may be too far removed from the big picture.
We need to pinpoint what the business wants to accomplish. But, is the business problem far enough? Maybe the right question to ask is, “What is the business objective?” It may seem like there isn’t much of a difference, but it’s a question of nuance. A small shift in mindset can make a substantial difference. Having a continuous improvement mentality is a great start. What drives the improvement is what matters most.
In our white paper, Nine Steps to Navigating a Post-Implementation Journey, we discussed the importance of a continuous improvement mindset. Today, I will build on that concept and share the next steps in taking a business-driven approach to push that mindset within the context of continuously improving core P&C insurance systems and processes.
What’s the difference between being problem-focused and business-driven?
Core system implementations are in a time of transformation, and we tend to develop a scope and system-based approach in order to manage the enormity of the work. Is this change in scope? Is it a defect or an enhancement? In order to get through the implementation, we focus on implementing a solution that is laser-focused on a defined scope.
When the solution doesn’t “work,” we consider it to be broken and need fixing. Similarly, we fixate on an agreed upon solution that was never really going to meet evolving objectives entirely. Once beyond transformation, there is no need to rely on artificial drivers for problems. It is the perfect time to get back to understanding what the business desires to accomplish.
According to a 2018 report by Gartner, “Objectives are generally formed based on the strategic choices of the business, and goals need to be aligned with the objectives. Otherwise, the innovation initiative can succeed in achieving the goal, but will not have the right impact on the business overall.”
Many of the problems encountered post-implementation are a result of trying to provide a technical solution to a business process that no longer meets the overall objective. Rather than looking to solve the pain point, there is an opportunity to understand what the business wants to achieve at this stage. Odds are, it is different than what we thought at the time of design during transformation.
Harnessing the business objective mindset
An effective solution involves a change in mindset or a shift toward a different mindset. Understanding the need to focus on business objectives versus executing those objectives are two different things. You can’t flip a switch and have everyone in your organization focus on only business objectives. The good news is every little bit helps. This is one case where a series of small victories results in a strong overall impact.
Three steps for solving the business-driven mindset puzzle
Shifting the mindset of an entire organization is easier said than done. It takes commitment. Here are some things you can do to move in the right direction. Keep in mind that every little bit helps. You can start small and build from there. You do not need to be perfect with any of these.
1. Define achievable objectives
One common challenge with the business objectives we traditionally communicate is they are often too lofty or abstract for a team focused on a specific business function or step. An executive responsible for an entire line of business may have the general goal of improving underwriting efficiency, penetrating new markets or improving loss ratios. The executive responsible might express these objectives to the CIO, who will likely pass it along to their reports with no additional specificity. While it is great information, it’s hard to correlate that to an incremental improvement opportunity in a Policy Admin system. The objective gets lost in the shuffle.
Creating structured interaction opportunities across multiple levels of the business will help you understand the underlying objectives that leads to the overall business objective of the organizational leaders. The more you structure business objectives into manageable pieces, the easier it becomes to achieve organizational mindset shifting. If this becomes too much of an obstacle, consider an emphasis on Business Architecture or Process Excellence to help create digestible components of overall business objectives.
2. Challenge and trust your team
The single biggest deterrent to continuous improvement is the notion you should minimize system support and maintenance from both a cost and skillset perspective. If you do that, you miss out on enormous opportunity. A key tenet to continuous improvement is to allow everyone to achieve growth in increments.
Most likely, you have a team, that when challenged, effectively focuses on and achieves an incremental objective. The key here is to infuse your team with talent, provide them with fulfilling and meaningful objectives to meet, and then trust them to do it.
3. Don’t just fix problems. Put them into perspective and solve them
When you focus on business objectives, it does not mean individual problems are not important. Most problems are very real and very important. You still need address and attend to them. What matters is the way in which we address them. Problems, issues, and even patterns of problems need perspective. How is this problem impeding the business objective, and more importantly, is there an opportunity for improvement? Aspire to understanding where problems fit against your objectives and seek to improve beyond them.
This part of the continuous improvement mindset helps protect us from bumping up against an improvement ceiling. If we only fix what is broken, we will only be as good as when we started. Conversely, if we put problems into perspective, we can solve them by providing a solution that advances our objectives.
Are you using a problem-focused approach when maintaining and supporting your core systems? Harnessing a business objective mindset ensures your team understands what the business strives to achieve, rather than attempting to simply solve riddles and pain points. By defining achievable objectives, challenging and trusting your team, and maintaining a continuous improvement mindset, you will have a greater chance of escaping the problem-focused room.
- COVID Drives More Reliance on Risk Management Systems, New Study Finds
- Electronic Chat with Robert Clark, CEO, Cloverleaf Analytics
- Solving Customer Communications Challenges with Hybrid Mail
- Six Trends Shaping Digital Insurance Tech Strategies in 2021
- Billing a Key Component of Customer Service, Celent Finds
- Why Data Science Fails
- Electronic Chat with Andrew Jernigan, CEO, and Allen Koski, President and Chief Innovation Officer, Insured Nomads
- Electronic Chat with Allison Martin, CEO and Founder, UDoTest
- Are Carriers Ready for the Coming Crash?
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Moore, Director for North American Sales Engineering and Solutions, Trifacta
- Next Insurance Partners with Amazon Business Prime to Provide Small Businesses with Affordable Digital Insurance Options
- An AI Walks Into an Electronics Store...
- InsurTech NY Announces Global Early-Stage Competition Winners
- World’s Worst County/Western Insurtech Song
- Electronic Chat with Anne-Laure Klein, COO, Akur8
- COVID-19 One Year Later: The Digital Transformation of Insurance
- Electronic Chat with Michael Kassing, CEO/CVO, insured.io
- BrokerTech Ventures Announces 2021 Cohort Class for Accelerator
- An Entirely Preventable Disaster
- Flipping the Fraud Triangle
- The January/February ITA Pro Magazine is here!
- Credit Risk, ESG, Cybersecurity Top Risk Concerns for Financial Institutions, Deloitte Finds
- Electronic Chat with Ellen Moser, Senior Client Executive, Origami Risk LLC
- The Answer to “So What?”
- Leaders Rise from a Year Like No Other!
- Electronic Chat with Jonathan Roomer, Co-Founder, YuLife
- Getting Creative to Hit COVID Curveballs Out of the Park
- Electronic Chat with Eugenio Gonzalez, Plug and Play
- New Report Projects Global Insurtech to Grow by $21 Billion During 2020-2024
- The 2020 Virtual Event Wasteland
- Insurtechs, Investors Optimistic About Post-COVID Future, New DIA/McKinsey Study Finds
- Finding Grandmas
- No Code / Low Code: The New “Shortest Route” In Insurance Delivery
- Are You Addicted to Copy-and-Paste?
- Electronic Chat with Nino Tarantino, CEO- Americas, Insurance and Mobility Solutions (IMS)
- Driving Life Insurance:Tech Alone Won’t Solve Business Problems
- Electronic Chat with Robin Roberson, Managing Director, North America, Claim Central Consolidated
- How Do You Make It Happen?
- Electronic Chat with Jason Liu, CEO, Zywave
- New Partnership Models Take Program Business to the Next Level
- New Study Finds Less than Half of Consumers Trust Insurers to Respond to Their Needs
- Electronic Chat with Andrew Mauritzen, CFO and Head of Insurance Industry, Exactuals
- You Want Us To Do WHAT For Free?
- Electronic Chat with Evgeny Aleksandrov, Co-founder and CEO, Pilotbird
- Electronic Chat with Chris Cheatham, CEO, RiskGenius
- New MIT Sloan Study Finds Few Companies Gain Big Benefits from AI
- The September/October ITA Pro magazine is here!
- “Being Right” is Just the Start of the Battle
- Electronic Chat with Amit Ranjan, Executive VP and CAO, Xceedance
- Planning for Your Business and Tech Future: Strategies, Plans and Budgets for Rapid Transformation
- Electronic Chat with Jimmy Padia, Founder and CEO, Floatbot
- Gelato with Dots and Sprinkles
- COVID-19 and the Insurtech “Junk Drawer”
- Even “Change” is Different Now. Your Strategic Planning Needs to Be Too.
- The Road Ahead for P&C Insurers: How to Understand Customers Better and Navigate the Post-COVID Insurance Market
- Electronic Chat with Jake Tamarkin, Co-founder and CEO, Everyday Life
- Strategic Planning in the “New Normal” Digital Era of Insurance – Your Next Move
- Insurer Tech Investment Priorities See Major Shift in a Post-COVID World
- Plug and Play Selects 25 Insurtech Startups for Winter Batches
- Digital Transformation – A Top Strategic Priority and New Reality
- Four Steps to Successful Migration of Insurance CCM Applications
- COVID-19 Accelerates Insurance Digitalization to Meet Customer Demand: World InsurTech Report 2020
- Electronic Chat with Greg Williams, Co-Founder, President & CEO, Acrisure
- Electronic Chat with Matt Perlman, Partner, IA Capital Group
- Insurer Digitalization: Are you a Competitor or a Laggard?
- Leaders are Leading and Creating the Future of Insurance Distribution
- 3 Things You Need to Know About No-Code
- Electronic Chat with Adam Kiefer, CEO, Talage
- Underwriting in 3D: Using Data to Adapt and Improve Life Insurance Sales
- Getting Past the "Gelato Syndrome"
- Insurers Know CX/UX is Important, but Don't Agree on Execution, Study Finds
- Electronic Chat with Steve Lekas, Branch Insurance
- How AI Can Attract Millennial Talent to the Insurance Industry
- Preventing Data Breaches
- A New Boom for Life Insurance: Shifting Away from the 250-Year-Old Policy Transaction
- Electronic Chat with Ty Harris, Founder and CEO, Openly
- A Digital Wildfire Creates a Burning Platform for Digital Insurance Business Transformation
- Digitalization, COVID-19 Spurring More IT Investment in Cybersecurity
- Electronic Chat with Michael DeGusta, CEO, ClarionDoor
- U.S. Consumers Significantly Underestimate Flood Risk, New Survey Finds
- The Future of Insurance: Opportunities in Ecosystems
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum, CEO, Input 1
- Majesco to be Acquired by Thoma Bravo
- The Evolving Role of Managing General Agencies
- Electronic Chat with Char Hu
- Electronic Chat with Allan L. Egbert, Jr.
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Tramontano and Zbigniew Gawienczuk
- Data Science is Gelato
- Insurance Innovation: Alive and Kicking
- Independent Agents Divided on Digital Experience, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Michael Jones
- Electronic Chat with Paul VanderMarck
- As Auto Insurance Premiums Shrink, Insurers Need Mobility Ecosystem, New Study Finds
- Property & Casualty Insurers Raise Digital Games as COVID-19 Elevates Customer Expectations, J.D. Power Finds
- Electronic Chat with Bobbie Shrivastav
- Meet the Board: Marissa Buckley
- Big Data and Insurtech: A Carrier Perspective
- Traditional Insurers Need Open Ecosystems, Partnerships to Remain Competitive, CapGemini Report Finds
- Electronic Chat with John C. Siegman
- 4 Ways AI is Empowering Insurers During COVID-19
- 6 Big Changes to Insurance from the COVID-19 Crisis
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Ewing
- Independent Agency Staff Morale High During COVID-19, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Brad Epker
- Tapping AI to Improve Policyholder Experience
- Electronic Chat with Manisha Bhargava
- ITA Pro Magazine, March/April 2020
- COVID-19 a Game Changer for Workers’ Comp
- Electronic Chat with Steve Comer
- COVID-19 Pandemic Forces Cancellation of ITA LIVE 2020
- Leveraging Digital Resources in the Time of COVID-19
- Electronic Chat with Robert Hartwig on COVID-19 and Insurance
- Celent Study: Most Small Businesses Still Unclear on Importance of Cyber Insurance
- The January/February 2020 ITA Pro is here!
- Deloitte: New C-Suite Roles Mean More Opportunities for Women
- Electronic Chat with Pankaj Parashar
- Electronic Chat with Tara Kelly
- Electronic Chat with Chuck Wilson
- ITA, InsNerds Collaborate to Enhance ITA LIVE 2020 Content and Coverage
- How SMBs Can Compete in Digital Ecosystems in the 2020s
- 4 Ways Insurance Can Prepare for New Data Privacy Laws
- Brewer Lane Ventures Launches and Hires Insurtech Vet Martha Notaras as Managing Partner
- 2020 GIA Cohort Launches on January 14
- The November/December 2019 ITA Pro is here!
- Electronic Chat with Joshua Snead
- Electronic Chat with Wendy Aarons-Corman
- Simplifying the Move to a Third-party Print Provider
- Take a Business-Driven Approach to Continuous Improvement for Core Systems and Processes
- Electronic Chat with Ron Glozman
- Guidewire’s Data Guru Mike Byam on How Insurers are Using Internal and Third-Party Data
- Electronic Chat with Russ Bostick
- Electronic Chat with Rock Schindler
- Electronic Chat with John Siegman
- Electronic Chat with Martin Burlingame
- Insurtech Landscape 2019: Top 5 Takeaways
- Grinnell Mutual Tackles Massive Transformation -- in Stride
- A Candid Conversation with Paul Mang
- SageSure Insurance Managers Improved Competitiveness by Consolidating Payments to a Single Digital Platform
- Digital Does Matter in Insurance-- And Insurers are Missing the Mark
- The 22nd-Century Insurer: Taking a Cloud-First IT Approach
- The September/October 2019 issue of ITA PRO magazine is now available in digital format here:
- ITA Pro Magazine May/June 2019
- Spotlight on the 2019 IASA Conference
- ValueMomentum Selects Erie as Site of Regional Development Center
- Capgemini and Majesco Become Alliance Partners
- Electronic Chat with Dr. Dan Shoham
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum
- Martha Notaras: The “Outsider” with an Amazing Inside View
- Electronic Chat with Larissa Tosch
- Martha Notaras Will Join ITA LIVE 2019 as a Keynote Speaker
- Five Things to Consider When Evaluating Your Cyber Risk
- ITA Pro Magazine, January/February 2019
- Synergy Between Insurers' IT and Analytics Teams Key to Operationalizing Insights, Says Novarica
- Major Ransomware Attack Could Hit U.S. with $89B In Economic Damages
- ITA Announces 1st of Three Keynote Speakers at ITA LIVE 2019
- Electronic Chat with Jeroen Morrenhof
- Legacy Systems Are Dead. Really? Don't Count On It.
- Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 ITA Bridge Awards
- It's time to register for ITA LIVE!
- Registration is Now Open for ITA LIVE 2019!
- What to Expect from a Digital Experience Platform Implementation
- ITA Pro Magazine September Edition is Now Available
- It's National IT Professionals Day
- Save the Date for ITA-LIVE 2019
- OneShield Software and UrbanStat Work Together to Improve Real-Time Analytics and Risk Decision-Making
- ITA LIVE 2019 - SAVE THE DATE!
- Insurance Technology Association Announces New Editor-in-Chief
- August 2018 Edition ITA Pro Magazine is Now Available
- Enterprise Architecture in an Agile World
- Top 10 Tips for Securing Your Mobile Devices and Sensitive Client Data
- Industry Insight: 4 Global Insurance Trends in Digital, Data, Content Services and Security
- Diving Deeper into Prioritizing Your Strategic Digital investments
- Why Content Rules
- How Mass Personalization Will Open the Small Business Benefits Market
- At Year End 2017, Will Your Organization Be Protected from Cyber Risks?
- Do Insurance Bots Dream of Mitigating Risk?
- Conditioned to Respond
- Managing & Mobilizing Insurance Data in a Connected World
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- Crawford Technologies Announces Second Annual Customer Communications Virtual Summit
- Zywave Acquires Risk Management Solutions Provider Enquiron
- eMaxx Launches Customer Centric Platform for Variable Cost Captive Programs
- Brewer Lane Ventures Hires David Castellani, Former New York Life Executive and Head of Technology
- RW Exchange, Sterling Seacrest Pritchard Announce Partnership
- Protecht Hires Todd Hancock as Chief Insurance Officer
- IMS Signs Partnership with Car Sharing Marketplace Turo
- Erie Insurance to Upgrade Majesco Billing for P&C on Majesco CloudInsurer® and Implement Majesco Insurance Data and Analytics Platform
The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
ITA LIVE 2020
ITA LIVE 2020 –SAVE THE DATE!
April 5th – 7th, 2020
The Diplomat Resort
Become a member today to receive updates – www.itapro.org/MR
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
Even the most digitally transformed insurance organizations struggle with ad hoc customer communications. Luckily, technology can help... READ MORE
Data science projects that “fail” all have one element in common... READ MORE
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE
COVID-19 has accelerated digital adoption, especially in the areas of claims adjustment and fraud prevention... READ MORE
- Vendor Views