Many insurers are saddled with legacy claims systems that hinder them from meeting today’s rapidly changing business requirements. A growing number of carriers are considering projects to modernize these systems, but many find the process overwhelming. In a conversation with I&T, Rao Tadepalli, SVP and CIO of Republic Indemnity Company of America (Encino, Calif.), which recently completed a legacy claims system replacement, offers keys to the project’s success.
How did Republic Indemnity’s recent legacy claims system transformation go?
Tadepalli: We replaced our antiquated legacy claims system with a new state-of-the-art web-based claims system — Guidewire’s (San Mateo, Calif.) ClaimCenter — in July 2009. While many companies spend an average of more than three years replacing their legacy systems, Republic’s IT team successfully completed this project in 20 months and 10 percent under budget.
What contributed to the project’s success?
Tadepalli: My key strategy for the efficient changeover was placing emphasis on talent, connecting and ensuring that the right people were aligned with the right jobs. In addition to choosing appropriate technology, choosing and investing in people is critical to a project’s success. ... Selecting a team of people who have the mind-set to learn new things goes a long way in ensuring the success of the project.
User involvement throughout the project was essential to the success of the legacy transformation. We had daily 15-minute meetings where everyone reported on their activities ... and discussed any impediments they faced in moving forward. We also established a steering committee that met every two weeks.
Managing scope and setting clear expectations up front is very important. Consider a phased approach to keep the project from becoming overwhelming. Focus on delivering the core functionality first by keeping some of the existing integrations with other systems. Explore outsourcing less-risky pieces, such as reporting, for instance. Make the end-user experience a high priority. For example, make document generation and retrieval seamless within the new claims system by integrating with the document imaging system. Make sure workflows are built into the system to manage claims workloads.
What was the most daunting challenge in your claims system transformation?
Tadepalli: Conversion is a large and challenging part of any claims transformation project. If you don’t have to convert the claims from the legacy system, consider yourself lucky. If you have to convert, make sure your existing system’s documentation is current and complete. Be sure you have the updated data model of your legacy system so you can map that to your new system.
Do you have advice for insurers considering a legacy claims system replacement?
Tadepalli: Communication, along with people who are willing to learn the new system and technology, are key. Above all, keep open lines of communication between business and IT. ... Designate a person whose primary job is to make sure all teams talk to one another and facilitate collaboration. Use Wikis and other collaboration tools.
Peggy Bresnick Kendler has been a writer for 30 years. She has worked as an editor, publicist and school district technology coordinator. During the past decade, Bresnick Kendler has worked for UBM TechWeb on special financialservices technology-centered ... View Full Bio