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Enterprise Content Management: Insurers Aim to Connect the Silos

A project-oriented approach to enterprise content management has solved immediate needs for many insurers. Now, the paradigm is shifting.

In Context: Competitive Pressures Drive The Hartford to ECM

Headquarters: Hartford

Total Assets: $360 billion

Lines of Business: Property/casualty and life

Primary ECM Vendor and Solution: EMC's (Hopkinton, Mass.) Documentum

Original Content Management Deployment: Over time, business units adopted multiple isolated solutions to meet departmental or project-oriented needs. "Eventually, we owned some version of most content management platforms in the marketplace," says Wes Sprinkle, vice president for service operations.

ECM Drivers: Dozens of isolated repositories eventually created inefficiencies, driving up costs and leading to an inability to establish enterprise-level content management.

Strategic Approach: In 2005 the organization shifted toward establishing enterprise-level architectures across systems. This included policy and data systems, as well as content management. With the architecture sufficiently developed by mid-2006, an enterprise ECM initiative for The Hartford's P&C division began. First, a six-year strategy was designed. EMC's Documentum was selected for its compatibility with the underlying architecture and breadth of capabilities. From mid-2007 through early 2008 a dedicated ECM staff was hired for business and IT functions. Concurrently, taxonomy development started and, as the foundational layers of the Documentum platform were laid, migrations began. "We've also undertaken a comprehensive educational effort to ... get everyone investing equally in this large enterprise asset," explains Sprinkle.

Vendor Consolidation Impact: Despite some hurdles with integration among its acquired products, EMC's ongoing acquisition of ECM players has created efficiencies for The Hartford. "Of greater impact is consolidation among other vendors," asserts Sprinkle. "Upon merging, vendors are desupporting previous products, creating urgency for us to migrate."

MS SharePoint Adoption: Due to departmental adoption, SharePoint has proliferated at The Hartford. Accordingly, although EMC supports SharePoint, the insurer plans to focus SharePoint deployment to team collaboration. "Production documents (policies, bills, procedures, etc.) will be moved to Documentum," Sprinkle says.

Primary Challenges: End-user impatience with the timeline set for the implementation has become an issue, although this could be viewed as a positive. "Once people understand the value and the benefits, they want their capabilities — yesterday," notes Sprinkle. Next Steps: Building out foundational layers will continue for three to five more years. Web tools and template rollouts will continue through 2010. Publishing will be implemented over the next five years. "Governance for lifecycle management will also be hammered out," Sprinkle says.

Tangible ECM Rewards: Productivity is increasing as people spend less time searching for content and resolving conflicts among versions of content. Elimination of multiple products from multiple vendors, as well as obsolete platforms, is reducing licensing and IT administration costs.

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

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