Osnat Yanushevsky Yacoby, Earnix VP of Operations, recently spoke at Earnix’s Excelerate Summit and offered five recommendations for how companies can achieve successful technology implementations.
The journey to seamless software implementation is based on three guiding principles:
The first is to ensure processes are simplified in both automated testing processes and automated data import processes.
The second principle is focus. It is critical to build a program with a specific focus addressing your key pain points.
This leads to the third principle: self-sufficiency for the end user, enabling them to scale the organization, building a higher level of confidence during implementation.
Under this framework, the following recommendations and best practices will ease the stress, and even create an enjoyable journey, both of which are key to implementation success. While some of these tips may seem fundamental, many companies tend to overlook them.
Tip #1: Get the Right People on Board
Appoint a strong executive owner, ideally someone who understands the organization. We have seen cases where an executive owner with great ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ motivation worked as an effective bridge between groups that did not have the same roadmap. Executive owners can work between IT and business or between legal and project management, for instance.
Do not forget important stakeholders such as information security, which is fast becoming an integral part of protocol implementation. Involve this group early on, as concerns raised can be addressed through proactive communication.
Also, make sure to include legal at this stage. We have seen a customer ready to go live, only to be delayed by legal who did not approve the customer documentation. It is crucial to get legal on board from the get-go.
Ensure you work together with your data team to check that their roadmap is converging with yours and that all data items agree with the model.
Tip #2: Define Clear KPIs for Success
This ensures you will address high-priority pinpoints. Think about moving from the minimum viable product to a more effective proposal—the minimum valuable product. This is based on the concept of SLC: simple, loveable, and complete. Start with an entity or concept that your teams love, one that is complete. It could be one brand or one line of business. Or you might implement a rating engine, preparing the relevant data structure, mimicking the existing prices.
These are all ways you can show value and increase confidence within teams who are wondering if they should embark on the journey for new software.
Tip #3: Challenge the Status Quo
Software implementation generates golden opportunities to create a new infrastructure, introduce new processes, and set up new standards.
One perfect example is legacy systems. There is no need to replicate legacy systems created and implemented years ago. Much of the business logic behind legacy may not even be relevant today. The people who built them may no longer be with the company, so their knowledge will be missing. It is a great chance to install a new system.
Another way to challenge the status quo is linking into another project in your organization during this process. This will preferably be a modernization program, for example, the establishment of the data link.
Look at what exists, ask questions, and consider various options that may not replicate current processes.
Tip #4: Invest in Change Management and Self-Sufficiency
In this example, ‘change management’ should be interpreted as pre-project change management, an area that is often neglected.
Start addressing fears such as ‘can I trust the vendor?’ or ‘will this really bring me value?’ Other concerns focus on delivery of day-to-day tasks at the same time as working on implementation of a new tool.
Illustrate reasoning behind new processes. You can achieve this through videos that explain benefits and functionality. Take time to schedule road shows and town hall meetings.
Clearly define your change. Consider the point of view of relevant stakeholders, use evidence and data to explain rationale, listen to feedback, and aim to limit obstacles.
It is crucial to treat change management with care, dedicating relevant resources to handle change. Manage different stakeholders to get their buy-in by involving them and communicating what you want to achieve.
Tip #5: Build Program Governance and Communication
Ensure you have clear reporting channels with your software provider and working teams. Hold regular meetings with technical teams and executive owners.
Appoint a dedicated team to run communications with a clear schedule for meetings to ensure that essential details reach the relevant stakeholders.
In a poll conducted at the Earnix Excelerate Summit, we asked delegates what they thought they could achieve with effective project management in software implementations. The results were surprising.
Fast business ROI was not top of the list as we had been expecting. In fact, 44% of respondents voted for agile response to market dynamics, giving us an interesting insight. Today’s insurance carriers are focused on increasing time to market to meet ever-changing customer demands and want to be light on their feet in terms of operations.
Combining smooth implementation with effective focus and a self-sufficient end user will create opportunities to bring swift value to your organization. By following the recommendations outlined above, an insurer’s preparation, planning, and application of the right principles is imperative for implementation success.