How to Avoid Common Mistakes Carriers Make When Implementing New Systems

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Carriers who have not been through complete development and implementation of a new system tend to underestimate the time, attention, and project management expertise it takes to smoothly roll out a system that works seamlessly with the other systems already in place. During our decades of providing project management and insurance technology consulting, we find that there are no universal “best practices.” However, there are good practices that everyone should try to follow.
Here are some of the most common mistakes we see and our suggestions for better alternatives.

MISTAKE: Thinking that your in-house staff has the bandwidth to properly oversee your new system rollout.

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: In-house teams already have full slates and might overlook crucial details that can compromise the project.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Partner with insurance experts who can bring a fresh perspective. They will evaluate the details of your system roll-out to spot hiccups before you begin. They can also create achievable timelines and budgets, helping all parties stay on track to meet these expectations.
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MISTAKE: Relying on an inexperienced project manager.

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: Project management is about more than just watching the schedule and staying organized. Successful project management requires scope management, HR management, and experience in risk, quality and procurement management.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Since there are many moving pieces and many specialized disciplines to take into consideration, it’s wise to trust an experienced project manager who has the insurance technology consulting expertise required to successfully implement new systems specifically for insurance companies.
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MISTAKE: Drafting an ambiguous or incomplete scope of work before beginning the project.

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: Poor planning reveals surprises that must ultimately be sorted out down the line. These can delay deployments and cause budgets to balloon.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Carefully define your scope of work before engaging vendors. Make sure that all stakeholders understand what’s in and what’s out of scope before awarding a contract, and encourage them to draw to your attention any gaps or points of confusion.
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MISTAKE: Adopting an ad hoc or informal approach to planning.

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: Scattered planning results in reacting to problems as they arise, not charting a proactive course of action.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Ask your insurance technology consulting expert to give you a realistic picture of what to expect while you draft your scope of work. Make sure you account for all aspects of your current systems that need to be updated before integrating with your new systems.
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MISTAKE: Doing things the way they’ve always been done.

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: A “business as usual” approach can cause you to overlook important details or blind you to new practices, which can result in the marketplace leaving you behind.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: To remain both efficient and competitive, insurance companies must maintain the flexibility to adapt to new situations. Simply relying on project management practices that have worked in the past can cause you to miss out on opportunities for greater efficiency or profitability.
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MISTAKE: Jumping to a solution before properly assessing the issue.

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: Rushed decision making leads to costly oversights that can stall a project or force a complete re-evaluation down the line.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Undertake a proper discovery period to correctly assess your project needs and evaluate the costs and benefits associated with project decisions.  Create a game plan that makes sense and make sure everyone is on the same page before you start the project.
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MISTAKE: Hastily selecting a vendor.

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: Partnering with the wrong vendor can cost you time and money. You might end up deep in a project and be forced to throw good money after a bad vendor experience in an effort to get your project back on track.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Take the time to properly vet your vendors. Ask them specific questions about their experience in the particular lines of business you are planning to write. Look for areas where they push back. You don’t need a team of yes-men. You need experienced professionals who tell you the truth, no matter what.
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MISTAKE: Remaining with the same vendor.

WHY IT’S A PROBLEM: Legacy partners can also get mired in their own systems and might not stay current with technology changes or industry advancements, causing you to lose out on important opportunities.
BETTER ALTERNATIVE: Ask your current vendor to bid alongside new vendors. If you have a personal relationship with your current vendor, request an unbiased third party from your team to handle the interviews and compare proposals. Take their assessment into strong consideration when deciding if your current vendor measures up or if you should partner with someone new.
There are as many ways to implement a new system as there are individual insurance companies. Use these guiding principles to help you make more thoughtful decisions as you develop new ways of serving your clients.
Need more guidance? Call Perr&Knight at (888)201-5123 Ext. 3 to discuss how we can help your implementation proceed more smoothly.