Having implemented its first block of business on its new AdminServer policy admin system, St. Paul, Minn.-based Securian Financial Group (SFG) is reporting successful first steps on the road to greater speed-to-market.
Securian spent much of 2006 putting in place the necessary infrastructure and design elements in order to implement AdminServer, and launched its first new product - SFG's Eclipse Indexed Life offering - on the system in November. The carrier licensed both the AdminServer Policy Administration System and the vendor's IllustrationServer.
"The AdminServer system has opened up a virtually unlimited number of possibilities when it comes to product innovation," comments Bob Ehren, vice president, life product manufacturing, SFG. "The rules-based model of the system enables us to develop even the most comprehensive product in a relatively short period of time, while the common calculation engine ensures consistency and accuracy in our calculations through all phases of a policy's life cycle."
SFG's relationship with AdminServer grew out of a strategic decision to develop the capability to develop universal life and term life products on a chassis that would enable greater operational efficiency and speed-to-market, according to Bob Reynolds, the carrier's director of life product management. "We have been operating on a homegrown system that is very much oriented toward our niche product in the adjustable life series," he says. "It didn't lend itself to where we wanted to go next with our product development."
Among the reasons SFG chose AdminServer over other vendor products was that it allowed greater autonomy in operating the system going forward, including less reliance on the vendor in the implementation of upgrades, Reynolds says. He reports that Securian is currently "coming out of growing pains" from the AdminServer implementation, but is confident that the system will foster the company's efficiency and speed objectives. "We believe that where this system is bringing us will contrast very favorably to the world we came from," he relates. "But that won't come without us being willing to change, and that's something that we're looking at right now."
Among the potential changes are shifting roles permitted by the system's usability. "It used to be that the walls [between business and technology professionals] were very high, and you'd have the coordinator writing business requirements and specifications, the programmer doing all the configuration, and a testing person doing all the testing," Reynolds says. "What we're looking to do now is bring those three pieces together with a lot more collaboration; that could mean you shrink a lot of handoffs and you're allowing people to do more and getting them involved earlier in the process."
The system opens up a wealth of possibilities for reuse of completed product development work, Reynolds explains. "Actuaries can do more when you have an existing chassis in place and can reuse transactions you already have, and testing-wise you can reuse scripts."
SFG declined to comment on what it invested in the relationship, but Reynolds says that ROI will be measured in several ways. "You can look at additional premium we're going to be able to bring in because of the increase in speed-to-market," he says. "Overall, it gets back to that and several metrics that we're in the process of developing toward measuring operational efficiency." He adds that, "we consider ourselves to be in a three-year sprint toward growth. That doesn't necessarily mean that the system has to pay for itself within that time, but the system will be a catalyst toward getting us there."
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