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Management Strategies

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Patriot National's Judy Haddad Innovates in a Turnaround

Retiring legacy is its own challenge, and the workers' compensation carrier CIO was able to do that while attacking next-generation technologies as well.

It's been about five years since Judy Haddad took over as EVP, CIO and CTO of Patriot National Insurance Group, a workers' compensation carrier based in Florida.

One might compare the state of the company's IT infrastructure when Haddad started with how it is now and say it's unrecognizable. But that only goes as far as the systems themselves, she says. Haddad speaks with pride of the IT staff that has stuck by her and helped her implement an aggressive growth strategy.

"When I came on board we were a very small department in a small company," Haddad says. "I had maybe eight people. We have close to 50 people now -- and quite a few of the people have been on for four years or so. The folks that have grown in the process have seen the company grow exponentially."

Haddad credits a strong relationship with company CEO Steven Mariano with empowering IT. Mariano understood that the company could not meet aggressive growth targets with outdated infrastructure, Haddad says.

Judy Haddad, Patriot National
Judy Haddad, Patriot National

"Once we could see IT was respected as an asset to the organization, we've been able to build an incredible partnership with the business," she says. "We have a vision and strategic direction of where we want to go and who we want to be as a company, and IT is in lockstep."

Haddad set out to replace Patriot's core systems -- but had to lay the groundwork first. Her initial project to enable the growth strategy was the construction of a data warehouse.

"We knew we wanted to add functionality to our systems at the time, but because this project was mammoth, we had to break it down," she says. "I coined the term, 'No data left behind.' We tried to do everything in our power to get to 100%, and we were able to achieve a great amount of success."

Built From The Ground Up

With the database groundwork laid, it was time to select a new core. The company considered bolting on some new front ends to its AS/400 legacy system, Haddad says, but abandoned the idea because the company needed newer technology and processes that could handle full-fledged claims and billing across the entire organization. "Front-end solutions are great for underwriting, but the rest of the world gets left behind," she says.

In the end, Haddad went with the WorkersCompExpert policy administration system from Vikaran. Patriot is the first organization to implement the workers' compensation version of the system, which is based on Vikaran's InsuranceExpert product for other lines.

"I loved that it was a brand-new system, because they took what every IT shop tries to do as core disciplines and incorporated it," she adds. "When you are building a system ground up, you can architect a solution that is truly on a platform for growth. If we're looking at doing other lines, we can do that."

In September 2010, Vikaran got the green light after a proof of concept. By January of the following year, the project started, and by the end of that year, quotes were being processed on the new system. Haddad worked closely with the vendor to not only blaze the trail for Patriot but also for Vikaran as a vendor and partner looking to establish a new product.

"Since we were Vikaran's first client for this system, they're looking at putting in installations in other clients, they're thinking that showing their commitment to all their customers is what's going to differentiate them. So they were in lockstep with us the whole way, on site even for the proof of concept."

Once the process got started and implementation was in full swing, Haddad and Patriot were able to become insurance industry front-runners in using next-generation technologies like cloud computing and especially mobility. Some of that groundwork for mobile technology was laid even before the selection of Vikaran. Haddad says Patriot implemented BoardLink, a Thomson Reuters business intelligence portal app, for some of its board members, and also has claims adjusters using iPads and iPhones.

WorkersCompExpert has some built-in mobile capabilities that are able to continue advancing Patriot in this area. Vikaran's QuickQuote capability allows marketing representatives to use iPads to give quotes to agents, and Haddad is able to check in with a mobile dashboard to get crucial performance metrics such as response times, benchmarking, and quote-and-bind policy information.

"We think about, what are those things that an app would be the best for? Our next step will be a mobile app where agents and clients can do billing and things like that."

In the end, Haddad says, Patriot is poised for success in the insurance and technology realms because of the vision of management and the loyalty of the staff.

"Through this project I have seen folks that I thought were good become great," she says. "That's sort of the success story out of all of this."

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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