As transitioning from a mainframe environment to distributed computing is inherently disruptive, GuideOne Insurance ($1.3 billion in total assets) sought to smooth the path. "One critical application for us was our audit control reporting [ACR] tool," explains Tom Fischer, the Des Moines-based carrier's SVP and CIO. "Although we were happy with our mainframe version from Infogix [Chicago], we needed an ACR that would run in the dual mainframe/LAN environment we expected to maintain for several years and then take over in just the LAN environment after the transition was complete."
After establishing a Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) Windows Server 2003-enabled LAN in 2006, a policy admin system deployment began mid-year. Concurrently, GuideOne started the search for an ACR. "In addition to working with our policy admin system, we also wanted an ACR that integrated readily with our new data warehousing application," Fischer relates, adding, "We were moving from IBM's [Armonk, N.Y.] DB2 to Microsoft's SQL."
GuideOne's first step was to contact information-control solutions provider Infogix to inquire about a LAN-compatible ACR. GuideOne also contacted its regular integrator for a list of prospects. "Only two other vendors had remotely applicable products for our specifications," notes Fischer, who says the insurer determined that the solutions would not function as a dual mainframe/LAN implementation. "And, at that point, Infogix was still developing its LAN-based ACR," he adds.
So GuideOne began discussing the merits of developing a homegrown ACR, Fischer says. But GuideOne IT employees met with Infogix's engineering team for the vendor's then-new LAN product, Assure, at an Infogix user conference in September 2006. Based on the conversation, GuideOne created a proof of concept (POC), which was completed during November and December 2006, and a combined GuideOne/Infogix team was formed, providing the insurer with ongoing access to Infogix development engineers.
"The POC's focus was ensuring the vendor's dual mainframe/LAN deployment would work as promised," says Fischer. "Later, after we'd signed a contract, we leveraged our beta site status to suggest feature and functionality improvements."
With initial Assure deployment slated for GuideOne's development environment, the implementation began in February 2007. "The only challenges we encountered weren't with Assure," Fischer reports. "They were mainframe/LAN connectivity issues." Since GuideOne previously opted for a virtualized LAN infrastructure using EMC's VMWare (Palo Alto, Calif.), Assure required no additional hardware and was simply loaded onto the policy administration system's application server, Fischer relates.
With the initial implementation completed by May 2007, GuideOne began reaping immediate benefits. "If we'd have chosen the homegrown route, our auditors would have needed as many as 30 instances of balancing to prove accuracy," explains Fischer. "With Infogix's ACR, only one or two instances were required. In fact, our auditors were genuinely excited when they learned we'd implemented the product."
In addition to reducing exposure, GuideOne estimates that Assure will save half a full-time equivalent annually versus a homegrown solution. "We may even see further gains when Infogix introduces an expected dashboard that will give authorized auditors self-service access," Fischer adds.
GuideOne Insurance (Des Moines, Iowa; $1.3 billion in total assets).
Lines of business
Residential and commercial, focused on churches and churchgoers.
Infogix's (Chicago) Assure audit control reporting (ACR) tool.
Reduce exposure with an ACR tool capable of operating in a dual mainframe/LAN environment.
Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio