In our many (many!) years in the insurance business, the question that is always and universally asked is, “Why doesn’t the system [fill in the blank].” And, frankly, the response is almost universally the same: “I wish it did that, too.”
Why doesn’t someone start with those universal questions? Why can’t a system:
- Be intuitive enough that I don’t need extensive training to get started?
- Allow me to get to my work quickly?
- Give me all the information I need, including the communications to and from the client?
- Do some functions automatically, but also give me the flexibility to make changes or review the data when I need to?
- Let me create as many quotes as I need, then let me compare them, then lets me pick the one the client wants?
And the ubiquitous:
- Why is the starting point for comprehensive software already unaffordable?
I think you get the point.
Few systems are designed and developed from scratch; navigation schema, database structure, even icons for buttons become minor elements when trying to rapidly fit new functionality onto an existing platform. Even fewer systems start from a premise of flexibility – understanding what may need to be done in the future, and what structure can be created now that can adapt to that future, in every phase?
Too often, new system RFPs deal strictly with functionality: Does it do what we need it to do? The one that does the most wins; and what it doesn’t do … well … we’ll work it in. At least we’ll get 80% functionality up front. And these buyers are right: the 20% will eventually get figured out and the price will be negotiated to some satisfactory (or at least tolerable) amount.
But, what about asking the questions, and really digging into the answers, of what the 20% after that 20% will entail? That’s when systems lose their luster – when users are confronted with functionality that has to be adapted to software that isn’t as flexible as it needs to be. Or worse, a critical piece is missing, and users have to find workarounds until the work order makes its way through the queue, in the hopes that it doesn’t get bumped for someone else’s higher priority.
For smaller companies, this is particularly acute because the initial price tag is always stretching affordability and the queue you’re dealing with isn’t your staff, it’s your vendor. Adapting to the marketplace with system support becomes a double-edged sword – the budget is too thin to pay for necessary changes, but the sales team needs updates and changes to compete effectively. And you can’t control it, because you’re dependent on someone else.
All that glitters is not gold. We should be asking all the right questions, so we understand as best as we can the parts of the process we inevitably won’t be able to control, and know we are very comfortable with how they will be managed. Anything less will result in user dissatisfaction, which will become manager dissatisfaction and ultimately will result in the restoration of all the same universal questions. That you end where you started makes no sense. Make sure that doesn’t happen.
– Bill Montei, CEO, founded Megalodon Insurance Systems with a simple yet BIG idea: provide small and mid-sized insurance companies powerful policy & claims management software solutions at a price that is within reach. To talk to Bill directly, please call: (608) 709-2154.