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May 17, 2016

Theres good news for insurers seeking to become more competitive and customer focused: Many of the persistent challenges related to core transformation have almost become non-issues. According to Celent, almost two out of three insurers have made progress on core transformation projects compared to 50 percent two years ago, and 25 percent four years ago.

Failure to transform core systems makes you vulnerable to a whole new set of risks, made critical by workforce issues and a radically different competitive environment. Continuing to operate in a legacy environment puts you at a competitive disadvantage compared to disruptive players such as Google, Oscar and many other new competitors. Legacy systems restrict the way you conduct business. You cant change business processes because they are limited by your systems. You are at risk of not having the right workforce to maintain them, as well.

Look Beyond Processes

Until recently, carriers believed their processes were what provided real business value. Adopting a standard process wasnt acceptable to them because they wanted to be unique. Insurers now understand that the process is not their key differentiating factor it is their products, pricing, and the customer experience they provide.

This is driving a subtle but certain shift in the industry. A few years ago transformation efforts were mainly IT-led. Today, business teams are spearheading transformation and innovation initiatives. They are setting up organizations to fuel this. This includes an increased presence of analysts within the business and business executives being an integral part of the development process.

With a number of developments in technology and shifts in the market, the success rate of transformation programs has risen, making these a less daunting task. Easy availability of software packages, innovative practices like Agile and DevOps, and the emergence of the concept of design thinking all are leading to more predictable outcomes in the transformation process.

Make Your Transformation Work

To ensure the success of your core transformation project, follow these seven fundamentals:

    1. Set the Right Vision
        Sometimes, management expects too much and the outcome is likely to fall short. Put in place the         right governance in terms of having the right leadership for these types of projects. This may                     include  setting up a business transformation office to serve as a liaison between the business                 community and  other stakeholders, and IT and system vendors getting the organization ready for a         transformation.

    2Dont Do Everything at Once
        Break transformation into smaller pieces, with frequent deliverables, gathering feedback from                    users and avoiding huge potential failure points.

    3Define the Right Change Management Practices
        The right program management practices, such as intermediate deliveries and collecting feedback             from users, will help everyone in the organization adapt to new ways of doing things.

    4Establish a Roadmap
        Things will change within a few years and you must plan for your roadmap to be flexible and able to         accommodate such changes during the transformation.

    5Focus on Customers
        Keep the user and customer experience and the whole customer journey as the focal point of your         transformation.

    6Dont Rebuild Your Legacy System
        Some executives are very focused on trying to replicate legacy processes and repeating what they         already have. Transformation happens when companies reimagine processes and procedures for a              new  world.

    8Put the Right Transformation Team in Place
        Be careful about involving individuals who manage current systems and processes. While they bring         in organizational knowledge, they may insist on using existing legacy processes, as well.                             Cross-functional team members must have the right experience in technology, management risk         and operations, along with a clear future vision so they can make decisions on the go and move                 toward the outcome. Work with vendors who have the relevant experience and capacity, scale, and         best practices to boost your transformation effort.
The bottom line is that managing transformation is a core capability that all insurers should possess is your organization up for the challenge?

S Rajesh is head of transformation and solutions for Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Insurance and Healthcare group. He has been with TCS for 20 years working with insurance and financial services customers worldwide. Rajesh has a deep knowledge and expertise in the insurance domain with patents in insurance software solutions. His expertise in technology and business consulting has made him a leader who gets consulted in many customer initiatives. Rajesh holds a masters degree in technology (M.Tech) from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).


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