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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: AmFed Steps Up to ECM

Headquarters: Ridgeland, Miss.

Total Assets: $80 million

Lines of Business: Workers' compensation, excess and surplus

Primary ECM Vendor and Solution: Perceptive Software's (Shawnee, Kan.) ImageNow

Enterprisewide ECM Drivers: With no content management deployment, the carrier found that the inefficiencies of paper-based, manual systems and the drain on customer service became increasingly unacceptable, particularly as ECM solutions grew more affordable and mature.

Strategic Approach: In April 2004 AmFed Companies began seeking its first enterprise ECM solution and narrowed vendors to four. To leverage vendor resources such as best practices, IT stakeholders delayed taxonomy and workflow creation until after getting a vendor in place. By August, Perceptive was selected for its workflow management, development flexibility, host application compatibility and intuitive management ease suitable for AmFed's nine-person IT staff. In October 2004 phased implementation began in claims and progressed division by division until completion in March 2006. "We considered the larger ECM suites, but they were overkill," reflects Trey Usry, network and systems manager, AmFed. "With Perceptive, we built a mutually beneficial relationship — they helped us and we developed some processes they hadn't thought of yet."

Primary Challenges: At the outset, AmFed was a Citrix (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) shop with older PCs, requiring conversion to a new Dell (Round Rock, Texas) client/server infrastructure, including dual monitors on every desktop. AmFed also experienced resistance to change by employees, which was remedied by training classes, one-on-one coaching and patience. "And, when our repository's size began to exceed nightly tape backups, we upgraded to a remote DR colocation where information is mirrored live, in real time," Usry explains.

Next Steps: As their ECM tool advances, AmFed continues to streamline workflow and automate additional processes. "ECM has become the core of our business," Usry says. "It's permitting us to consider new revenue streams that were impossible before. Whatever we do, we ask ourselves, 'How can we leverage ImageNow?' "

Tangible ECM Rewards: Paper and storage costs have dropped about 30 percent to 40 percent since deployment. Workforce efficiencies are so dramatic that AmFed has continued to grow at a steady rate without hiring additional staff. "With ECM, bill processing occurs twice as fast and customer service improvements are through the roof," enthuses Usry. "For example, adjuster productivity and response time to inquiries is up 75 percent."

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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