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Norwich Union Conserves Brainpower

Insurer automates processes that once required manual intervention, for a big ROI.

In recent years, mergers and acquisitions left Norwich Union Insurance (NUI, British Sterling 200 billion in assets under management) with business processes—such as compiling case information from disparate systems and reassigning cases—that too often required manual intervention.

The Norwich, based in England, wanted automated IT systems that "didn't waste brainpower," says Alex Robinson, the IT director at Norwich. After a six-month pilot and three months spent building a solid business case, the company is going live with software that will automatically set and track action dates, allocate and reassign cases, and poll other systems for task and case information, among other things. In other words, NUI is beginning the process of developing business-process management with rules-based technology. Now, Robinson says, "we're saving that brainpower for those things thatrequire human intellect."

Capturing Business Rules

The initial pilot, says Steve Scott-Douglas, director of solutions, NUI, focused on claims for the third-party motor recovery subrogation area. However, although the pilot worked quite well, he says, "we made some mistakes, did some analysis and decided to start over." Scott-Douglas says that NUI was able to begin again because the entire pilot only took about six weeks to build from start to finish and the second project was developed even faster. By starting over, Scott-Douglas says that NUI was better able to "create an environment where we capture the business processes to improve the consistency of processing."

NUI's problems really turned into headaches in early 2000 when its parent company, Norwich Union plc, merged with CGU plc to become Aviva, which now manages some $320.8 billion in assets. The merger meant there were even more systems for Norwich Union Insurance to support. "We were running business processes that combined systems that were never designed to work together, and we had to use people to bridge those gaps," Robinson says.

In early 2001, Clear Technology Inc. (Westminster, CO). showed its new product, Tranzax, to NUI. The software is designed to help automate a consistent set of business rules within a process, regardless of the systems that support that process. Robinson gave Tranzax a try.

To test the software, the IT team identified a single process: recovery. The money was sometimes held up because of the multiple systems and automation gaps. "If the money is outstanding for even a few days, the cost is quite substantial," Robinson says.

Tranzax helped Norwich identify and document the best steps to accomplish a recovery task in a workflow diagram. The steps were then encoded so they could be automated, and links were built to the underlying systems. Finally, an interface was built for the claims handlers.

Happy Users

Users are excited about the increased efficiency, Scott-Douglas adds. "Within the pilot, we did see an improvement in the quantity of recovery made," he says. "Users saw how some of the drudgework is eliminated so they can focus on the value-add."

Norwich's pilot is now going into production, and Robinson's team is starting a second implementation that involves claims handlers in different distribution channels. Robinson says the company expects to see a multi-million-pound return within three years. Tranzax could give the insurer a greater ROI than with any other software it has implemented in five years, Robinson says.

Editor's Note: Beth Bacheldor ([email protected]) contributed to this article, which originally appeared in InformationWeek, a sister publication of Insurance & Technology.

------------------------------------- Case Study Closeup

COMPANY: Norwich Union Insurance, Norwich, England, British Sterling 200 billion in assets under management, a subsidiary of Aviva plc (London).

LINES OF BUSINESS: Life, property & casualty and retirement services.

VENDOR/TECHNOLOGY: Clear Technology's (Westminster, CO) Tranzax.

CHALLENGE: Develop consistent underwriting with business-process management.

Greg MacSweeney is editorial director of InformationWeek Financial Services, whose brands include Wall Street & Technology, Bank Systems & Technology, Advanced Trading, and Insurance & Technology. View Full Bio

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