Many mergers are spurred by potential operational efficiencies brought on by scale-but the fusion can't happen overnight. After the coming together in the mid-'90s of Unum (Portland, Me.) and Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Provident, along with Paul Revere Life Insurance Co. (Worcester, Mass.) and Colonial Life and Accident (Columbia, S.C.), the carrier that is today UnumProvident (Chattanooga, $42.4 billion in assets) began the daunting task of seeking interoperability.
"UnumProvident had multiple [claims] systems and we needed a common interface and an integrated workflow application," explains vice president of IT Randy Robinson. An IT team decided that the solution should allow users to graphically depict workflow and have a rich API set. The team was also in search of an efficient, robust and scalable Web-based application.
Narrowing the Field
After commissioning consultancy Am-erican Management Systems (AMS, Fairfax, Va.) to conduct a study that reviewed business process management workflow providers, the field was narrowed to seven vendors. "We decided to award a contract to Staffware (Arlington, Texas)," says Robinson, "because its solution was end-to-end and their staff was more geared toward developing, promoting and maintaining the product." The decision was made in early 2001 and installation of Staff-ware's Web Client Process Suite began later that year.
At that time, IT personnel were brought in to learn the suite's configuration, installation and operation. "There is a significant learning curve with this product," explains Robinson. Staffware representatives walked workers through the interfacing process for a few weeks. Then, after gathering workflow requirements, people from both organizations built the first integration, and UnumProvident began testing its newly installed system.
Unfortunately, the results indicated it might be wise to consider an alternative method. Robinson held the newness of the Web-accessible version accountable for the unsatisfactory results. "We started using the Web client but had to supplement it with the Staffware Windows Client because it had limited functionality," concedes Kevin Frye, enterprise shared services, UnumProvident. The Windows Client "helped us to rapidly deploy a user interface for some business-critical workflow procedures."
After testing, UnumProvident went live with version 8 of Staffware's Windows Client in April 2002. Although it was satisfied with initial results, the carrier has undergone subsequent release implementations and is very pleased with the operation of Staffware Web Client version 9.1, which it implemented in October 2003.
"Staffware's Web interface has been substantially improved-it's much more robust and useable," relates Robinson. "It allows us to quickly automate our workflow. And in a matter of hours we can integrate that workflow with our imaging system." The enhanced version, which allows users to control the way they view and interact with the application, is a big change for IT, which used to have to push code down to a user's workstation.
The enhanced processing suite has also changed the carrier's business processes. "We've moved to an impairment-based claims review process," says Robinson. "We were able to start separating claims by units, and that has cut down on response times."
The insurer plans to grow the system (currently used by 5,800 users in seven business areas) to other areas, including underwriting.
CASE STUDY CLOSEUP
COMPANY: UnumProvident, Chattanooga, Tenn., $42.4 billion in assets.
LINES OF BUSINESS: Disability, long-term care and supplemental health.
VENDOR/TECHNOLOGY: AMS (Fairfax, Va.); Staffware's (Arlington, Texas) Client Process Suite.
THE CHALLENGE: Find an integrated workflow solution that has a rich API set and can graphically depict workflow.