Role of Operations Staff in Automation Projects in Insurance Companies

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The Insurance Industry is no different. It has to be innovative and provide services of world-class quality. We are constantly generating large amounts of data in our daily lives. This data is either captured or ignored depending on what we intend to do with it. These data can be stored, retrieved, and analyzed to turn them into useful information that could lead to improved products for the service industry. This is not all that is required. The workflow must be automated and intelligent features built. All of these needs to be done smartly to delight customers. Without a more strategically correct automation, there is no way for an organization to surpass it in terms of performance.

The automation project goes through several phases, starting with the feeling of automation and ending with the actual implementation. In large organizations, such projects usually involve implementation partners. These automation projects are vital for insurance companies. Poor implementation of a major project can lead to big operational problems, business losses and even closure. It is just another project for the partner who implemented it. The implementation partner should be well-respected in the industry so they are able to handle one failure. This situation is more concerning because many implementation partners can still do decent business despite multiple failures. Insurance companies have more at stake than their technology partners. To insure their company against failure, the operations staff plays an important role in every phase of the automation project. You can better understand the importance of their role by looking at house construction as an example.

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Before we can decide to build our house, we need to determine what our needs are. There are two options. One approach is to think about what is needed in order to determine the house’s requirements. Look at the family size and distribution and choose 3 or 4 BHK. Then assume the builder is familiar with the rest. Why bother putting in more thought about requirements? Another approach is to talk with each user of the house. Consider their needs and work out the requirements. Each user is an expert in his own field. He is the only one who can identify the difficulties he encounters while walking from his bed in the morning to the toilet at night. He should keep a record of all these difficulties, as well as the improvements he wants at the stage of requirement determination. It is expensive to move a wall even one inch after it has been built. In many cases, it might not be possible. These few inches are what force you to move the bed to open the wardrobe, or to climb onto the study table to access the window. Think about the difficulties that an Insurance company will have to deal with if similar problems occur in the requirement determination for automation projects. It will be a constant pain in the neck.

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Once we have a list of requirements for the house construction project, we contact an architect who can help us with design. He assists us in adjusting our expectations. These can be either increased or decreased. He then prepares a design that is approved by the user and can be used for future construction. Civil Engineers provide the details of foundations, beams, columns, etc. and then transform this design into a detailed design. If we have a change in our requirements, it is possible to include it but it will cause problems for the designer. It will also have an impact on the project’s cost and timeline. We, the users, should ensure that the design meets our expectations before we accept it. This is not something you can just look at and say “Ya! This house design looks great, so let’s go!

We can also approach software companies for custom software development. If we are looking to get software that meets our needs, we will approach them. These software vendors will first map our requirements into their software solution and present it to us. This activity is similar to examining different layouts provided by an architect in a house construction project. The solution provider will offer an ECM product if it is a problem to search for the policy document during the claim settlement process. Better communication and automation will be a priority if communication to surveyors, claim notification, or submission of surveys reports is a problem area. It is important to carefully evaluate the various solutions and compare them with the requirements. This is where the IT vendor has to address the expectations of users.

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The construction of a house begins after the design is approved. If users have communicated clearly their needs and the construction work has been completed in an able hand, they can now relax. It is easy to believe that users will be able to relax earlier if the work has been completed in competent hands. It isn’t true. Although experts can’t take care of all aspects of construction, they can help in determining the requirements. Users can also visit the site during critical phases to make any necessary adjustments. The customization phase is also part of the automation project. If new software is being developed, development begins after the design has been finalized. The users may be able to relax. They may be allowed to inspect the project on occasion, but this is not required.

Users testing is an important part of automation projects. It ensures that users are receiving what they want. Many projects now have operations staff that are serious and can come up with new ideas. They must be involved in such projects as well as their normal activities. They feel the project is not complete in the earlier phases. They don’t pay enough attention the requirements determination, etc. They become serious when acceptance and testing are over. They transform this testing phase into the requirement determination phase. The implementation partner, on the other hand, has completed the task to develop/configure the required configuration. They want to be tested only against these requirements. These situations can be detrimental to the project. The fate of the project is determined by the importance of these new requirements.

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Now is the time for implementation. After the house has been constructed and the owner accepts it, it is time to move. If the trash from the old house is removed, one can live in the new home in a more comfortable way. This gives you the chance to organize your life better. Certain changes may cause some discomfort. It may be difficult for some to get to the bathroom, and it might bother them for a while. He will soon realize that he won’t be disturbed by a leakage or if someone opens the tap. The new house will soon become familiar and the users can start to live happily. The same goes for automation projects. It brings about changes in the way that people work. The company’s general manager may not be used to receiving the printed copy of daily reports. It is possible that he will need to view it online after the implementation of a new system. Although it may seem inconvenient for him to create such reports online, he might realize that it provides updated information every time.

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Next comes regular maintenance and change management, as needed. Automation projects go through several phases: analysis, requirement determination, design, development and testing, operation, maintenance, and change management. It’s true that it works in all industries, including Insurance, Banking, Telecom, Manufacturing, and other. Depending on the industry and project, the cost of errors in different phases can vary.

Automation projects don’t just automate data capture, storage, retrieval and analysis. They also aim to integrate different systems at different levels, adopt best practices, provide business intelligence, and so forth. These projects can be lifelines for a business organization, but they are just another project for IT implementation partners. The business organization must play their part and get the most out of the IT partner, while also making sure they receive all the benefits that the project has brought.