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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: BlueCross BlueShield of Minnesota Centralizes Governance

Headquarters: Eagan, Minn.

Total Assets: $2.65 billion

Lines of Business: Health

Primary ECM Vendor and Solution: Oracle's (Redwood Shores, Calif.) Universal Content Management (UCM)

Original Content Management Deployment/ECM Drivers: In 2002 Blue Cross adopted Stellent's ECM platform to centralize governance of Web-enabled Internet and intranet portals, which eventually numbered approximately two dozen sites. End users and IT stakeholders began grassroots advocacy when they experienced Stellent's ability to cut Web-related deployments from a week to 15 minutes. "By 2006, more and more people were saying 'I can't find XYZ policy and procedure,'" explains Tom Chaffee, principal operations architect. "Even if they did know where to look, they often needed a 25-year IT veteran to extract the information."

Strategic Approach: ECM steering and governance committees were formed in 2006 and populated with 30 executive- and director-level stakeholders, representing business and IT functions. A strategic roadmap through 2013 was developed. Early in 2007, RFPs went out to Gartner Magic Quadrant "Leaders." Later, a unanimous decision was made to expand the presence of the original vendor, which had just been acquired by Oracle. Taxonomy development began concurrently with vendor selection and will continue through 2008. "Vitally important is our executive-level sponsorship, which gives us the power to keep moving," Chaffee emphasizes.

Vendor Consolidation Impact: "Acquisitions such as FileNet by IBM and Stellent by Oracle did give us pause," acknowledges Chaffee. "We sat back and considered some packages more closely than we otherwise might have. In the case of Stellent, we definitely spoke to Oracle about their plans and goals."

Primary Challenges: High demand for experienced ECM talent initially slowed application development, notes Chaffee. "Otherwise, the biggest challenge is managing demand," he says. "Once people learn about the system, they begin wanting it, now."

Next Steps: Projects and departments will be brought onto the system one at a time, prioritized by business needs. "Ultimately, everything will be centralized and nothing will reside on desktops, significantly changing how employees work," explains Chaffee. "Along the way, we're evaluating departmental repositories from roughly 200 different vendors, determining which are strategic to retain and which to retire."

Tangible ECM Rewards: In addition to obvious efficiency benefits, Chaffee cites significant cost savings. "We'll see huge reductions in print and mailing costs even before we're fully transitioned," he says. "That, alone, is millions of dollars."

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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