With the launch of a Unisys managed services solution for payments operations, Reliance Standard Life (RSL) is on the verge of replacing its legacy billing system as part of a transformation that began in 1999. Unisys (Blue Bell, Pa.) is consolidating Philadelphia-based RSL's remittance process and billing into a single operation, starting with the development of a common image archive for paper-based payments, and redesigning both IT and business procedures. The solution automates RSL's front-end remittance process as a first step toward replacing the group life insurer's 1970s vintage legacy billing system.
The Unisys service replaces a manual remittance process in which RSL's bank received payments through the mail, posted checks and sent paper records to the carrier, according to Frank Newdeck, who recently retired as RSL's VP and CIO. "We saw that as a very manual process with a great deal of manual entry duplicated by both the bank and by us," he says. The inefficiencies of that process, he adds, represented "low-hanging fruit that we could get very quickly."
Unisys suggested the solution based on a remittance operation it was running for cable TV provider Comcast Corp. (Philadelphia). But RSL was skeptical that the process would meet its needs, notes Newdeck. "We receive everything from 40-page list bills to simple checks and everything in between," he explains.
After considerable study by both parties, however, RSL decided to pursue the solution and began work in March 2006. Unisys currently is processing both list bills and self-admin bills at its facilities, converting remittances into images and data, and providing an electronic feed to RSL's legacy billing system. "Instead of manually posting premium, our people now use images from the paper Unisys scanned and can make decisions based on that as to what can be posted as premium," Newdeck relates.
RSL went live on the new solution with its first office in December and planned to get the rest of its offices online by the end of February, according to Newdeck.
The Unisys solution currently enables RSL to post 50 percent of the premium received through the mail, reducing the amount of follow-up needed to reconcile payments with billing. By adding business rules to the current process, RSL says, it plans to increase the automated payment stream up to 75 percent during 2007.
RSL is currently in the requirements phase for a system to replace the legacy billing system, according to Dan Falkenstein, RSL's current VP and CIO. "We hope to be in development by the end of the year," he says.
Newdeck says the managed solution itself involved no up-front investment on the part of RSL. "Unisys is basically building the system to reuse it with other people, and they are going to recoup their investment from us because we are paying by the piece for every remittance," he explains.
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