In June 2005, Penn Millers Insurance ($86 million in 2006 gross premium) realized that for the Wilkes-Barre, Pa.-based carrier to meet its growth objectives, it would have to cut down on its manual, paper-based processes. "We found it was going to be difficult to attain the premium growth we set forth [because of] the way we were doing business," relates Mary McGrath, systems analyst for Penn Millers.
The company was "looking to gain productivity from having an automated workflow process," McGrath continues, explaining that Penn Millers wanted a system that allowed for electronic file sharing, less paper and less process redundancy. It was important, she adds, that customer service levels were maintained, a competitive differentiator for Penn Millers.
The search for a document imaging and workflow product began in December 2005. A team of managers and "super users" who were most in tune with the system requirements headed the selection process. "We had user involvement in this," McGrath says. "It wasn't just strictly IT selecting [the solution], or the senior executive committee."
Three vendors emerged as leading candidates, and by September 2006, after side-by-side comparisons and on-site demonstrations, Penn Millers selected the ImageRight (Conyers, Ga.) document management and workflow solution. "The ease of indexing and retrieving files is what sold [ImageRight] to the users," McGrath says, explaining that the solution requires only a file name or file number to input or retrieve a file.
In November, ImageRight spent a week on-site to connect scanners and related PCs and configuring the software to run on dedicated Dell (Round Rock, Texas) servers. Two Kodak (Rochester, N.Y.) scanners were purchased, as well as an optical platter from Plasmon (Hertfordshire, England) for storage redundancy for legal purposes. According to McGrath, the overall cost of the new system and equipment was 20 percent of the company's IT budget, which she declines to specify.
Meanwhile, Penn Millers' employees back-scanned existing documents so they could be retrieved under the new system. "It was a very time-intensive process because of the number of files we had," McGrath relates. Across the company's three departments that initially went live on the platform -- claims, commercial business and agribusiness -- 9,636 files were back-scanned. The claims department was the first area of the company to go live with ImageRight, in January 2007. "Right off the bat we saw a large reduction in paper," McGrath says, adding that the company expects to see a return on the purchase price in three years.
Penn Millers' two underwriting groups went live with ImageRight more recently -- the last group completed its back-scanning in April. "We're definitely seeing improved productivity," McGrath says. "Volumes are ... only going to increase. However, we expect to be able to maintain our high level of customer service while keeping staffing levels optimal."
It was beneficial, McGrath adds, to have ImageRight on-site for training during go-live weeks. But overall, "The learning curve was actually lower than what I prepared for," McGrath says.
The ImageRight implementation is a catalyst for future changes, McGrath says, noting that the marketing and loss control departments also have adopted the system. "By having all our files and policies imaged, it puts us in a good position to go further with electronic distribution and management of information," she explains.
Penn Millers Insurance Co. (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; $86 million in 2006 gross premium).
Lines of Business:
Commercial (auto, business-owner property, umbrella, workers' compensation) and agribusiness.
ImageRight (Conyers, Ga.) document management and workflow solution:
Enable premium growth without expanding staff, while still providing high levels of customer service.