Creativity and Collaboration in the Forms and Document Lifecycle
Insurance is a promise to pay, someday in the future, maybe. Policy forms are the expression of this promise in writing. Creating and maintaining these forms is a core activity for all insurers.
Product differentiation has taken on new importance in the last few years, and insurers see product management as an increasingly vital core function.When senior property/casualty executives describe their goals and objectives, they often mention agility, flexibility, responsiveness, and speed to market. A fresh portfolio gives an insurer advantages in pricing, risk selection, and distribution. An oldie (product) can be a goodie—as long as the market does not move against it. But Celent sees competition in both personal and commercial lines centered increasingly on the rapid rollout of new and enhanced products. There are also benefits from being able to refresh a product offering more frequently.
To understand current approaches and issues in performing these processes, Celent interviewed 10 insurers about their existing processes, organizational structure, the pain points involved, and the various constituencies served. The use of technology was also explored.
The process of managing forms development today is characterized by heavily manual processes, aided by MS Word, Excel, and Outlook. Clearly, Microsoft is the dominant technology provider for product managers. But this largely manual process also results in lack of agility and lengthy product change cycles. Insurers that are looking to drive product differentiation and agility must determine how they might change the existing process.
Improvement through the application of technology is an attractive option. Based on the comments of the participants and the metrics reported, standard workflow and specialized forms management applications would increase productivity and process transparency. Automated text analysis and document comparison tools, long a staple in the legal industry, would assist with new product development, competitive form comparisons, and impact assessments.
These can not only speed the process but can also help mitigate the challenges related to staff retirement trends mentioned previously. The loss of technical expertise is particularly acute in product management. It takes a substantial length of time to become expert at policy form creation and maintenance.
Technology helps bridge the experience gap. Forms management software offers templates that can be used as a starting point in the development of a new form. Automated audit trails on past projects provide practical, real-life training materials. Analysis tools assist inexperienced employees with impact assessments. They can also identify patterns—both similarities and differences—between different forms. Search utilities, driven by keywords, retrieve forms that contain specific concepts. Finally, improved collaboration and workflow tools guide participants through the numerous handoffs, provide alerts when tasks are overdue, and aid communication between multiple stakeholders.
The objective of technology in the forms management process is to augment, not replace, human effort. As less experienced people replace veterans, technology can help maintain existing levels of consistency and underwriting intent while increasing throughput.