Many insurers launched new Policy Administration Systems (PAS) in the late 90’s, and the industry noise level is indicating that it may be time for many to upgrade. Replacing your core Policy Administration System (PAS) can be an overwhelming undertaking. Preparing your company for the review and selection process of a new system is an important first step in managing the project successfully. Ten tips to include in the preparation phase are:
- Secure executive support and involvement in the selection of a project team. It is okay to feel you need the help of an outside expert to assist the team in identifying the vendor short list, just don’t relinquish charge to select the best choice to meet your needs.
- Identify and assemble project team members that include both subject matter experts and business users. The team needs to represent all products, states, ratings and rules that will be required. Don’t leave an experienced agent, actuary and legal counsel representative off the team. Err on the side of involving more people than less.
- Provide an agenda before each meeting and ask one team member to transcribe notes that will be distributed before the next meeting.
- Assign responsibility to one team member to spearhead the creation of a comprehensive RFP document.
- Ask one or more team members to detail the current system technology and capabilities and Identify needs (must have’s) and wants (wish list) in defining the system qualifications.
- Prepare documentation of product information for the vendor and Identify how data migration will be managed.
- Establish early and often communication with all departments and support functions in an effort to reduce employee anxiety about change. Request that one or more team members create a communication and training plan will occur from start to launch.
- Define who needs to be involved in user acceptance testing and when/how it will occur.
- Identify and select only vendors who can demonstrate that they have successfully completed at least three Policy Administration System replacement implementations. The vendors selected to submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) should be asked to undergo an RFP qualifying step to show product, rate, and compliance knowledge before even completing an RFP.
- Once you have narrowed the vendor field to those who will be asked to prepare a detailed RFP, clearly communicate the process and timeline. Welcome specific questions and input from the vendors throughout the RFP submission process.
Outsourcing the job of selecting the vendor short list to an “industry expert” should not replace the internal team’s involvement. Selecting a vendor that has a track record for replacing Policy Administration Systems is critical. You don’t want to pay for a vendor’s business learning curve – the risk is far too great. Be sure to dig deep into the system functionality and not just examine the surface. There is a big difference between “yes, we can meet that requirement” from “yes, we have done met that requirement before and it’s in our product set”.
Finally, three best practices were identified in a recent Deloitte report, “Policy Administration Transformation: Driving the change agenda.” They are:
- Avoid software customization unless there is a clear and measurable link to significant business value.
- Leverage a system integrator who can provide a broader perspective and experience beyond pure technology integration to assist with requirements creation and design, and share industry practices on how the target system and business process design should operate.
- Business rules should not be created by the technology team. …rules should be created by business users or advisors familiar with the organization’s processes.