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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: Grinnell Mutual Re Addresses Compliance Risk

Headquarters: Grinnell, Iowa

Total Assets: $641 million

Lines of Business: Property/casualty and reinsurance

Primary ECM Vendor and Solution: Hyland Software's (Westlake, Ohio) OnBase

Original Content Management Deployment/ECM Drivers: The carrier was deploying only document imaging; the legal department identified multiple areas of compliance and exposure risk due to content residing in multiple locations (e.g., in network folders, on desktop hard drives and on hard copy).

Strategic Approach: Soon after hiring Marina Latimer as manager of content management in December 2006, Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Co.'s CIO, Dennis Mehmen, joined with her and several Grinnell Mutual partners to create a three- to five-year ECM adoption strategy. During 2007 the reinsurer's smallest division was selected for initial deployment and existing workflow documentation began. Meanwhile, the company's original imaging vendor failed to deliver a proof of concept, narrowing viable options to three. Late in 2007 Hyland was selected for cost-effectiveness, ease of use and demonstrated insurance focus. By March 2008 an expanded version of Hyland's proof of concept was rolled out at the initial deployment site.

Vendor Consolidation Impact: Repeatedly, consolidated vendors displayed lack of focus during evaluation and were disqualified, says Latimer. "On the other hand, Hyland has a clear idea of where they've been and where they want to go," she asserts.

MS SharePoint Adoption: SharePoint and business intelligence integration capabilities played a significant role in the ECM vendor selection process because Grinnell Mutual plans to roll out both in 2009.

Primary Challenges: Challenges have ranged from attracting IT talent to a rural community to meeting change resistance. For overcoming resistance, small groups of line-level end users assisted with assessing new processes. "The more you actively engage people, the more they'll take ownership," notes Latimer.

Next Steps: The initial deployment will be completed by the end of the year. Then a larger department, either policy or claims, will begin. A new server farm also is being installed. "New servers weren't necessary, but we decided that starting with clean configurations would be most effective," Latimer explains.

Tangible ECM Rewards: In addition to gains from automating manual processes, reducing paper costs and meeting regulatory compliance, ECM is dramatically improving business continuity. "If we weren't paperless and a tornado came through, the business might not recover," asserts Latimer. "The DR [disaster recovery] confidence ECM's given us is gold."

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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