with four states for workers’ compensation and is in the midst
of developing the commercial lines package policy this year.
Three major systems are being replaced with all policies and
claims converted throughout the four-year period.
“It’s a lot of activity in a short period of time; a lot of change
to take on. We believe it is imperative to be able to grow our
business and replace these legacy platforms with modern
technology that allows us to extend policy, claims, and billing
through mobile technology, portals to allow our customers to
view claims and do billing online, and make transactions online
in a consumer-friendly model,” says Cretsinger. “The ability to
see what’s happening through the life cycle of the policy is im-
portant to our agents. In the new world, they will have access to
everything they need to know. Our focus is on transformation
through the replacement of our three core systems.”
GuideOne conducted its due diligence on the solution-pro-
vider market with the help of the insurance technology advisory
firm Novarica. They scanned the technology environment and
studied more than 50 software firms. The number was reduced
to nine and those vendors were sent RFIs.
From that group, three finalists were selected and were
passed to the carrier’s internal committee. The three remaining
vendors each ran demos for one week to show GuideOne what
they could do. Cretsinger explains it was a highly-scripted demo
based on what GuideOne wanted to see accomplished. A big
part of the evaluation was how the vendors were able to meet
the demo requirements. Innovation Group and its Innovation
Insurer package came out on top for personal lines. That process took about six months.
“We scored the three finalists with a detailed evaluation of
functionality across a number of parameters and we had about
30 people involved,” says Cretsinger. “We engaged our personal
lines users with people from underwriting, policy issuance, and
billing. Innovation Group scored the highest by far in terms of
functionality. We built a business case for this and they were
competitive on pricing as well.”
GuideOne mobilized a project management team that
included project managers, business analysts, quality assurance
representatives, and developers—the four key roles within the
PMO realm. The carrier had a product team, a business spon-
sor, an executive sponsor, and an executive governance group
that oversaw the project. The insurer realized they needed
additional help with business and system integration so Deloitte
was engaged to deliver those skills.
“This is a trifecta—business leadership with the carrier, software development leadership, and the delivery expertise that
comes from a systems integration partner. All three of those are
important to have together before deployment,” says Cretsinger.
“Don’t try and do this alone. You have to have the expertise of
the software vendor and a partner that has done this and under-
stands the black holes you can fall into. It’s important to have a
partner to help with that. We set up a dual model where I had
a project manager and Deloitte had a project manager. We had
over 100 people working on this project. You need folks who
can manage the business and project resources.”
Thus far, the performance has been good, according to Cretsing-
er, although projects of this scope never come without challenges.
“It’s not for the faint of heart,” he says. “Anyone who takes
on a policy project needs to remember the end users are their
agents. The agencies and the CSRs have to build this system into
their business model and there are no two business models that
are alike, especially in the agent market. We went to the career
agents first because we have more control over how they sell
and market. We then rolled it out to our independent agents.
The high risk on any implementation is you are injecting your
process into an independent agency office and if it doesn’t work
flawlessly they are not going to adopt your system.”
The big advantage GuideOne saw from this project is the
company was able to roll out a new set of life-stage products
with an affinity strategy to allow the carrier to market itself
through affinity partners.
“With that commercial relationship we are able to sell to
partners a system that allows us to identify those leads and feed
them to our career agents, our independent agents, and also
home-office agents through our call center,” says Cretsinger. “As
the affinity partners give us their membership lists, the member
gets to choose what type of agent they want to deal with. It’s
given us the ability to rapidly grow our personal lines business
through those affinity marketing capabilities and with a new
product capability we didn’t have before.”
Cretsinger doesn’t believe the core systems are going to be
replaced again anytime soon. He feels the new software should
be good for decades and what will evolve are mobility and the
front end of the systems with portals for agents and customers,
mobile platform for the portals to run on, and the ability to ex-
tend the way the carrier operates over the next several decades.
On the back end, Cretsinger sees the advantage being the
ability to perform data analytics. GuideOne also purchased
Innovation Group’s analytics platform, Insurer Analytics.
“We have more data capabilities than we had in the past
in terms of understanding buying behavior and their cycle of
activities,” says Cretsinger. “Our focus, once everything is live, is
to extend our capabilities on the front end and on the back end
through data analytics capabilities.”
The second advantage involves the insurance product itself.
Cretsinger maintains the reason insurance companies replace leg-
acy systems is because of the need for more agility in the market.
“You need to be able to bring new products to market quickly,” he says. “We couldn’t write a five-car personal auto policy.
In today’s economy it’s not strange to find a five-car household.
We didn’t have the ability to extend our product to the modern
world. There were many examples of market constraints in our
old system and we now have the ability to be more agile and
meet the demands of our customers.” ITA