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Q&A With James McGlennon, VP and CIO, Liberty Mutual Agency Markets

Liberty Mutual Agency Markets CIO James McGlennon discusses the status of the Ohio Casualty integration, vendor relationships and IT talent retention.

I&T: Describe your goals, challenges and accomplishments as CIO of Liberty Mutual Agency Markets.

McGlennon: I set out to build a stronger partnership with business leadership; focus on execution; provide cost transparency; and improve governance, prioritization and accountability. Since last July, we-ve completed the Ohio Casualty integration and more than 120 projects across all aspects of the organization, including rating engine deployment for personal lines, Peerless Insurance entry to Massachusetts, customer relationship management and sales force planning, and data warehousing. The challenges we faced were aspects of cultural alignment, transition to new modes of operation and integration into a national IT footprint model.

A Day in the Life, Liberty Mutual Agency Markets VP and CIO James McGlennon, 
Monday, Aug. 20, 2007, just four days before the Ohio Casualty acquisition formally closed: Liberty Mutual headquarters, BostonI&T: How do you ensure the success of technology projects?

McGlennon: Executive ownership and involvement is critical, as well as having a team mentality with the expectation that the result will be success for all. The checks and balances are regular follow-up on minor variances to plan and immediate follow-up on key issues/risks, in addition to formal architecture reviews detailing current, next and target ecosystem structures.

There will always be issues. What distinguishes a successful team from an unsuccessful one is how they deal with the issues.

I&T: What are your most important IT initiatives, and what are their timelines for completion?

McGlennon: Integration, integration, integration, as well as major investment programs in policy administration, claims and billing. We apply a consistent investment model, balancing achievable results along the most important dimensions. Integration requires a new assessment of priorities and schedules as we examine the asset portfolio of the company we are integrating. We will exploit the opportunities to capitalize on existing technologies as opposed to building anew.

I&T: How do you maximize your partner relationships?

McGlennon: Vendors play a crucial role. We expect our partner vendors to come to the table with ideas already vetted and tailored to our current situation and challenges. This is what differentiates how and with whom we do business.

I&T: How do you attract and retain skilled IT pros?

McGlennon: We look for innovative approaches to apply new technologies — mobile workforces, virtual worker technology, appropriate use of offshoring. And we strive to provide opportunities across the entire Liberty Mutual organization.

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