If your IT department numbers 25, there may be no better ROI on enterprise content management (ECM) than a full-featured solution that can be run by a single person. Yet that was just one of the efficiencies International Catastrophe Managers (ICAT) hoped to gain by switching to a packaged solution from its homegrown legacy ECM platform.
"When our business was founded in 1998 we never thought we'd be writing the dynamic policies of today," explains Barry Veitel, technical analyst for Boulder, Colo.-based ICAT. "By early 2005 it was becoming a logistics nightmare."
For the 100-employee insurer to remain competitive, it needed a scalable, low-overhead solution. Having adopted EMC's Documentum as its document repository, ICAT began by identifying five compatible vendor solutions. "In addition to our usability criteria, we wanted an open source platform that was XML-based," notes Veitel. "We ultimately selected Thunderhead NOW for meeting those requirements and being all-inclusive -- it didn't require purchasing various add-ons to create a complete package."
Indeed, Thunderhead integrated so seamlessly into ICAT's ($134 million in premium income) open source environment that the application was installed on an existing Linux server in April 2006 and went live less than two months later, Veitel reports. "We're a completely distributed Windows/Linux environment with a variety of hardware boxes," he comments, adding that XML is used extensively to feed information to Thunderhead from Oracle (Redwood Shores, Calif.) and Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) SQL databases, as well as for creating forms and documents with the ECM solution for ICAT's business users.
In fact, the Thuderhead/Documentum combination has been completely transparent to end users, according to Veitel. "They access the ECM capabilities through our core insurance applications, so it's like the 'Wizard of Oz' -- 'Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain,' " he says.
Since the initial installation, ICAT migrated Thunderhead onto a virtualized platform and, in mid-2009, upgraded to a modular version of the solution, Veitel relates. "Our most recent upgrade offered improved development of complex, dynamic forms, ... increasing the return on our investment," he says.
And ROI has been significant. For example, new coverage options can go into production in minutes rather than in a couple of days. "Our producers ... can bind policies according to the new rules and those policies will be in compliance," Veitel explains. In addition, approximately 85 percent of the IT resources required to create and maintain document templates with the legacy system have been reallocated, he notes. Plus, automated exception-handling enables policies to be quickly and easily retrieved and adjusted, he adds, stressing that the efficiencies won't stop there.
"About 60 percent of policy lifecycle documents are now auto-generated," reports Veitel. "Going forward, we'll continue working toward 100 percent auto-generation. And as our producers begin to adopt more types of communication channels, whether it's instant messaging or video, we'll be able to scale our ECM platform without significant impact to IT, or other, resources."
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