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Horizon Implements Project Network

Business Engine software provides health insurer with improved project management communications and monitoring.

Within a large insurance company, it's not hard for waste and confusion to occur among initiatives with overlapping timeframes. To avoid such confusion, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield (Newark, NJ, $5.9 billion total revenue) recognized a need to improve project management throughout the enterprise. "It's important for us to deliver on-time and on-budget, with as much precision as possible," says Pamela T. Miller, Esq., vice president, enterprise strategy and quality, Horizon BCBS. "We needed a tool to help track and trigger intervention with any problems in implementation."

Horizon had enjoyed success with Microsoft (Redmond, WA) Project for project management but only in small pockets throughout the company. "We didn't have an enterprise way of managing projects and we didn't have sufficient information about any one project or the interdependency between projects to manage the full portfolio well," explains Miller. Having issued an RFP, Horizon began examining 22 different options in the spring of 2000. By August, a decision had been made to implement Business Engine's BEN (Business Engine Network). The solution was chosen for its user friendliness, efficiency and the ability to integrate with the Microsoft project management software already in use, Miller says.

BEN enables the firm to incorporate Microsoft Project into a network that ties all involved parties together, from project operatives to senior management, and allows a multi-project view of deliverables and resources tailored to individual users' needs. "We wanted to be able to seethe dependencies between projects in order to manage people, costs and time," Miller says. She describes the network as an active repository serving as "a place where executives and project leaders can confer about a project's status and know in an instant exactly where things were."

Prior to a March 2002 rollout of BEN, Horizon purchased two environments, for development and production. "There are two Compaq Proliant DL350 Web servers for each environment, sharing a Microsoft SQL 2000 database server and a Seagate Technology Scotts Valley, CA reporting engine," running Crystal Decisions' (Palo Alto, CA) Crystal Reports software, says Dave Mitchell, project manager, Horizon's enterprise project management office (EPMO). The solution takes a feed from PeopleSoft (Pleasanton, CA) HRMS to import human resource allocation information for project-based budgeting costs, but otherwise the BEN works in a stand-alone fashion, Mitchell says.

"Since we're not touching other systems, we did not have major integration issues," Mitchell notes. Rather, the challenge was tailoring the network to Horizon's business processes, he explains. That task was accomplished by a team of about 10 representatives from the carrier's major business units: service, IT, healthcare mandates, market business units and EPMO.

BEN Basics

In implementing the BEN, Horizon adopted a strategy called BEN Basics to train users on the fundamentals of the network and Microsoft Project. The solution has been rolled out to IT, compliance, healthcare management, service and marketing, and 400 of an estimated 600 target employees have been trained in its use. BEN is currently being used to manage 212 projects.

Horizon plans to move from version 3.0 to 4.0 by the end of 2002, which will allow a bi-directional interface with Microsoft Project and greater budgeting capabilities. The carrier is considering linking the solution with its general ledger in order to be able to integrate project-based budgeting costs with cost center-based budgeting costs.

So far the solution has been well received and has increased the enterprise level of project management, according to Miller. BEN is expected to result in a higher percentage of projects delivered on-time and on-budget. In the meantime, "people feel more able to deliver on-time and on-budget because they have better information," Miller says.



Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, Newark, NJ $5.9 billion total revenue.


Health insurance.


Business Engine's (San Francisco) BEN; Microsoft (Redmond, WA) Project, SQL 2000; Seagate Technology (Scotts Valley, CA) reporting engine.


Implement enterprise project management network and disciplines.

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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