The Beacon Insurance Company Ltd, headquartered in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and with branch offices throughout the southern Caribbean, offers a full range of insurance products and financial services, including general insurance, life & health insurance, asset management and financing. Beacon has streamlined its procedures and modernized its Insure/90 core policy administration system using a combination of the LANSA Workflow Framework, RAMP and LANSA Integrator tools.
Christopher Woodhams, Vice President Information Systems, says, "Our business strategy and LANSA system allow us to focus on winning new business. We now have complete visibility and control of how documents and work progress through the organization, regardless of divisions and locations. Turnaround times are consistently fast and competitive and we can offer our clients a one window view of their business with us. The system is opening up new opportunities, allowing us to re-assess how we utilize our real estate and resources."
We now have complete visibility and control of how documents and work progress through the organization, regardless of divisions and locations
The Beacon Insurance Company Ltd (Beacon) operates from 12 locations in Trinidad & Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Dominica with a team of loyal and dedicated staff. The company regards the quality and delivery of its services its main competitive differentiators and is constantly aiming to improve on these.
In this context Beacon believes that personal attention is a top priority for direct corporate clients, while for broker customers fast turnaround is the main focus. However, until recently Beacon was hampered in implementing these improvements, as its Insure/90 system and internal procedures did not allow for either.
"Our Insure/90 implementation served as a robust database underwriting system, but it didn't have the workflow features to measure timelines or the facilities to effectively manage tasks that span two or three different divisions," says Woodhams. For the customer, the static and hierarchical organization of products and divisions meant that they had many different points of contact. For example, depending on the product type and transaction, customers would be routed to the relevant specialist – often having to explain their situation multiple times.
Driven by a strategic initiative to provide better customer service, Beacon started to look for a solution that would help to streamline multi-divisional workflows and give their customer representatives a 360-degree view of the customer, their policies, claims, quotes, and all past and current matters.
Beacon analyzed various options, including a full Insure/90 system replacement. However "the risk was too big, the cost too high and the timelines too long", as Woodhams explains. Another consideration was to run a packaged workflow management system alongside the existing Insure/90 system. But as the workflow solution was based on a different technology platform, integrating the two systems would have been hard and expensive, with an ongoing need to manage data duplicating and synchronization.
"LANSA's combined modernization and workflow framework approach for Insure/90 was the obvious choice," continues Woodhams. "One, because it would integrate seamlessly with Insure/90. Two, because it was low risk and without the need for data conversion."
Together with LANSA's Professional Services, Beacon looked at specific bottleneck processes in the old system, examining which resources were involved and timing how long they took. Next, based on a realistic simulation, estimates were made on how long these same processes would take in the new LANSA-improved system, and which resources would now be involved. These findings were part of extensive ROI calculations, which formed the basis for a presentation to management and eventual project approval.
LANSA's modernization and workflow framework approach was the obvious choice, because it would integrate seamlessly with Insure/90 and it was low risk without the need for data conversion
The new solution capitalizes on Beacon's existing the Insure/90 and document storage system assets, and extends these to provide workflow, integrated document management and intuitive navigation with rich search features.
The Workflow Framework is one of LANSA's ‘CodeStart' solutions shipped with source code (and thus not carrying any annual maintenance costs). It is a generic engine, so it was quickly configured for Beacon's many desired business flows. As part of the workflow configuration, each process step was defined with a target timeline, balancing what is realistically possible and what is required for competitive differentiation. Alerts were set to highlight any processes in danger of incurring unacceptable delays, allowing for timely corrective action so that service levels can be met. The highly configurable and flexible nature of the Workflow engine also allows Beacon to easily redefine their processes as their business needs evolve.
Insure/90 itself was modernized with LANSA's RAMP, which has prototyping, refacing and development facilities included. It allows refaced RPG/COBOL programs, newly developed Visual LANSA programs, .NET programs, Web sites and other applications, to all be integrated in an Outlook style portal, with tabs, filters, search results and business object details.
Beacon used RAMP primarily to improve Insure/90's navigation and to extend its functionality. Very little time was spent on repainting the user interface. Beacon basically used what RAMP's refacing facility generated out of the box. Further GUI improvements are planned for a second project stage.
LANSA Integrator is a key component to Beacon's overall solution, enabling the automated PDF generation of policy contracts, claim letters and other documents, and seamless integration with Beacon's existing document management system via Web services.
The use of 'Model Offices' proved hugely valuable during the project. It allowed key users to use the draft system as they would in real-world scenarios and provide feedback on the process flow, functionality and usability. LANSA consultants organized the first couple of model office simulations, after which Beacon ran their own.
Beacon's project went in stages, starting with the workflows and screens related to the client and policy business objects. This automated the underwriting processes, including the creation, routing, approval, digital-signing and delivery of policy contracts. Accessibility of information was improved by allowing users to dynamically sort data and drill down. At the time of this case study about 80% of the system improvements had been implemented, with still some workflow procedures to be implemented in the Claims area.
Beacon made organizational changes as well and formed a division entirely focused on customer contact, that way creating "a one window view of Beacon”, as Woodhams calls it. Staff from this division are empowered to make decisions with the customer on behalf of Beacon, on the spot. Which is quite unique in the market. Having a single point of contact was made possible because the LANSA workflow and electronic document management systems provide staff with a company wide view of quotes, policies and (soon) claims, regardless of the division or physical location where the information is processed.
Having a single point of contact was made possible, because staff have a companywide view of quotes, policies and claims
Renato Lezama, Vice President Trinidad Operations (and a major contributor to the system design), explains that the immediate impact of the new system was that supervisors got the ability to ensure completion of transactions and processes. "Before, it wasn't within their power to measure whether tasks were done on a timely basis, without physically going to a staff member's desk. Now they have the performance metrics to ensure that we are meeting the timelines that we agreed to deliver on. Supervisors are alerted when tasks are threatening to fall into a time lapse zone and can take immediate action to address the issue."
Having complete visibility and control of how documents progress through the system and being able to spot the bottlenecks, is almost comparable with how you manage productivity in a manufacturing line, according to Lezama. For example, Beacon's supervisors are now able to forecast with precision that in the next half hour 15 policies will be presented for signing. A high level view is available as well through the solution's real-time dashboard, which allows management to drill down to details.
"Immediately after going live with the new system, we got complete control of the work that is moving around the organization, regardless of divisions or staff locations," Lezama continues. "We can focus our resources in areas that allow us to keep our competitive edge and dedicate more time in the field, as opposed to spending time on administrative procedures."
Although it is too early to declare that all estimated ROI predictions have come true, many measurable improvements have already been achieved. For example, the task of packaging a policy used to take on average between 15 to 20 minutes, due to the fact that physical documents had to be printed and pulled from various sources, fastened together, signed and put in an envelope. In the new system it just takes 1 minute. In addition, the documents are more consistent and accurate. All documents are stored, reviewed and signed electronically and then automatically packaged for delivery. Beacon puts over 40,000 policies together each year, so the savings will be dramatic.
"That's just one of the processes we improved," explains Woodhams. "There are many other processes we have improved the time lines for. Not always as spectacular as bringing it down from 15 minutes to 1 minute, but still quite substantial."
Quotes, which were previously done outside of any computer system, are now managed through the workflow system, allowing management to track how many quotes are converted successfully into revenue. "Quotes don't fall through the cracks anymore and we are starting to see evidence of that in more new business," adds Lezama.
In addition to the benefits of LANSA's workflow automation, there are huge efficiencies and savings from RAMP's improved navigation over Insure/90, simply from the fact that over 100 staff can gain information accurately and quickly. Information that previously would be hidden three to six screens deep, is now directly available on a tab.
Woodhams and his team continuously evaluate the system with end users and get very positive feedback. "We feel that we have delivered something of real value. The new system is opening up a lot of opportunities. It has allowed management to re-assess roles and resources, because workflow and documents are now totally electronic. Previously resources needed to be physically in a specific office. Now they don't even have to be on the same island any more. It has opened up a whole new thought process of how we utilize our real estate and resources," he says.
Woodhams goes on to explain that it isn't so much a matter of wanting to save on resources, but that the real issue is that resources are hard to find on the six small island countries the company does business, especially technical operations people. "But now, even though we have the economy of scale against us, we can utilize our resources very efficiently," he adds.
Quotes don't fall through the cracks anymore and we are starting to see evidence of that in more new business
Most of the project was handled by LANSA Services. Beacon's own IT team has recently completed their LANSA training courses and Woodhams is now identifying what project areas his team should get involved in. He explains, "We haven't had the opportunity yet to see how our own IT resources are going to be affected. However, from looking at what LANSA was able to do and the timelines that they delivered in, LANSA's productivity is going to be a huge positive for us. Development and maintenance tasks that would have taken a week or longer when using our old technology, take only three or four hours with LANSA."
Woodhams is also impressed with the quality of the resources that LANSA Services has been providing, which he describes as extremely professional and competent. "LANSA and their people do understand Beacon's requirements and what we are trying to achieve. That is one of the reasons why the project has been so successful," he comments.
Next on the agenda might be a Web portal for brokers. Woodhams is still doing the ROI analysis, but feels optimistic it is doable. "Having the LANSA infrastructure, workflow and document management integration in place, Web access for brokers has become quite achievable," Woodhams concludes. "If our marketing department had come with that request a year ago, I would have said 'not a chance' and laughed."
Having the LANSA infrastructure, workflow and document management integration in place, Web access for brokers has become quite achievable
Company and System Information
- The Beacon Insurance Company Ltd, is headquartered in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and has branch offices and Tobago, Grenada, Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica. Beacon underwrites the following classes of insurance: Property, Motor, Liability, Health and Accident, Credit Life, Marine Cargo and Hull, Engineering, Bonding, Securities and General Accident.
- Beacon uses Insure/90, a software solution for the insurance industry supported by Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC).
- For more information about Beacon visit www.beacon.co.tt