Royal & SunAlliance has built an enterprise management information system (MIS) as its first major project following the development of a new IT strategy over the past year.
The system is designed to provide business users with a single source of vital business information, accessible through an informational dashboard, according to Michele Boston, IT director, Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA, $9.2 billion in assets, Charlotte, NC).
"We used Business Objects' OLAP online analytic processing tool as a front end for an ad-hoc decision support environment where non-technical users can grab any key performance indicator and slice and dice it by whatever attribute of a policy or claim that they'd like to look at it by," Boston says.
Working with Diamond Cluster (Chicago) as partners in project management and technical architecture decisions, R&SA pursued what Boston characterizes as a three-tier data model. "We gathered seven years worth of transaction history into an operational data store, using Informatica's San Jose, CA ETL extraction, transformation and load tool, then a data warehouse and datamarts," she recounts. Fundamental to the success of the technical approach, Boston adds, "was getting the business units to come together and agree to standard definitions so that when executives pulled, for example, a direct written premium or retention number, there was a consistent definition of what that metric was."
Working under a senior management demand for incremental delivery, the development team pursued an aggressive timeline to deliver seven releases over 18 months, Boston says. The two most important deliverables, for premium and loss information, were respectively begun in June and November last year and completed in December 2002 and April this year. "Subsequent planned releases are tied to getting additional information out of the general ledger to supplement what we already have on the premium and loss side," Boston adds.
However, according to Jim Williams, R&SA's CIO, that work has been deferred for the time being. "When we built the first two releases we quickly realized that they had benefits beyond what we originally imagined," he says. "So our next deliverable will be a dashboard for our processing and underwriting organization."
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