5 Ways to Navigate the Implementation Maze
What if you could master the maze of implementing a digital, modern policy administration system? Imagine if you could maximize the likelihood of success and minimize risk for your upcoming core system modernization project. With the right approach, it’s possible. You can reduce a lot of risks before they threaten to harm your project and your reputation. Instead of dragging you into a swamp of problems, your new IT initiative can act as a springboard for company success. Read on for the first 5 of 10 tips.
- Be clear about your goals
Once you decide to replace your insurance system, you need to spell out the business problems that will be solved, the desired outcome and the financial justification. Do the hard work of defining requirements, establishing metrics, and building a business plan that clearly conveys what benefits your company expects to gain from the implementation. A new core insurance system will position your company for high performance in a demanding, customer-sensitive market. A new system will always have far-reaching implications and almost certainly require business processes to alter. Your business case should acknowledge this and explain how change needs to happen in order to be successful.
- Get executive commitment
Your project needs an ‘executive champion’ – a strong and passionate believer in the project’s goals. Your champion should be an active participant from the outset, through to the go-live stage, and have a stake in the future of the project too. Crucially, the executive champion should also command support from their executive colleagues from the business and IT. The executive champion can sell the story that the new system will lead the organization to greater success and profitability – which will benefit everyone across the business. Changing a legacy system is as much a change management project as it is an IT project, which makes executive backing especially vital.
- Choose the right solution for your needs
It almost goes without saying that a software solution must fit your needs today and tomorrow, so a careful discussion is required by your department heads. Outside expertise may be helpful too, as you assess which way the market is headed, which new technologies are becoming available, and how customer behavior is continuing to change. Vendors will stress their own know-how, of course. But do they really understand the needs of the insurance business? How adaptable and scalable are their solutions? And does their IT roadmap really fit with your long-term business objectives? Consider your entire digital ecosystem and, which third-party solutions you will want to use. Be sure to choose a solution that comes with relevant ecosystem integration points.
- Set a realistic timeline and budget
Some companies try to work backwards from a pre-determined go-live date and then attempt to schedule (often unrealistic) project milestones to hit that deadline. But this usually results in insufficient attention to detail and tasks being completed in a careless fashion. It’s important to have an effective project plan that acknowledges that things will change over the lifetime of the project and includes mechanisms for handling this complexity. This plan starts with a kick-off meeting and logically progresses to a go-live conclusion. Tasks should be properly resourced and scheduled. The project schedule is the foundation of a successful implementation; it should be developed and monitored carefully. The schedule should be updated weekly and regularly reviewed by the project manager and senior management.
- Select the method that best fits the project
Typically, there are two solution implementation models: Waterfall and Agile. Both have pros and cons, so often, the best approach is a combination. The waterfall model is often selected when you want a contractual agreement with the vendor up-front containing all (or most) of the detailed scope and estimates. With Waterfall, you need to make early assumptions about the product structure. Agile begins with a short what phase, a shorter pre-analysis phase, and then a solution blueprint. Next, you start the design phase. The project runs in ‘sprints’ with teams meetings and then discussing design, develop and test. This model makes room for a successful learning curve and can also adapt to external changes. Many implementation partners choose a combined approach. The scoping focus of Waterfall offers predictability in meeting requirements, budget, deadline, solving the many integrations and cross-functional dependencies that a PAS requires. At the same time, the iterative and user-involved methods of Agile are a far better means to ensure quality during the build and execution phase, when delivering the less transparent requirements for user interfaces, products, flows, etc.
- Be clear about your goals
Stay tuned for the next 5 tips, coming soon!