Whether big or small, most insurance agencies agree that an Agency management system (AMS) is integral to improve efficiencies and reduce the cost of operations. Many Insurance agencies would have started with a combination of file folders and a small AMS. As the business grows, the need for a more evolved AMS might be the need of the hour for the agency. Migrating to a new AMS where all legacy data is proficiently mapped and migrated is the most desirable way forward. But the process is not as easy as it sounds.
Many migrations are planned events with defined budgets and scheduled go-live dates. However, nothing goes as planned. A study by DM News* reports that “upwards of 91% of businesses engage in data migration projects; however, almost all (85%) of them run into a significant problem during the process.” Informal discussions reveal Agencies have had experience of AMS project migration expenditure spiral up to 200 percent of the acquisition cost of AMS itself. Risk of downtime or extended downtime impacting business and budget overruns are as common as cold. Many agencies report schedule overruns of about 30 percent and average budget overruns of 16 percent.
Traditional approach to AMS Migration
Most commonly employed process for AMS migration includes these steps:
Conversations with AMS vendor or their partner
This is when all concerns about the data and migration are discussed
- Create document outlining the migration plan and how long it will take
- Data consultation with partner team for import
- Client success manager and data experts from the partner side will engage with the Agency’s internal
- IT and business teams to look at the data and arrive at the best method to port data
- Finalization of data formats and import template for lift and shift into new AMS
- Continued support from the implementation partner throughout transition & after
For agencies adopting the traditional AMS, migration approach is a Pyrrhic victory. Agencies conquer some inefficiency but end up with an exacting toll that negates all gains. Change management strays off the planned contours; cost and time overruns sap the morale. Data is the biggest challenge for any Agency. Data authenticity, reliability, integrity, and usability are the key to AMS migration. The thought of taking the time to shuffle through the book of Business data and getting it ready for migration can be overwhelming. Rigidity to change and the associated fear of process changes and interruptions is another reason for unfortunate change over. Not clearly communicating why the AMS switch and associated benefits limits buy-in from all employees. Most agencies rely on vendors for implementation and may have overlooked internal mechanisms required to manage transitions. If considerable planning and thought are not invested on change champions, cross-functional groups with ownership and responsibility to drive makeover AMS migrations prove to be a costly affair. Poor interpretation of business rules happens when Internal IT, Vendors, and business teams are not on the same page. It leads to expensive rework and poor outcomes.
The traditional AMS migration model requires very high human intervention. These include complex activities such as planning and change management that require higher levels of human intelligence and comprehension. They also involve low complex, repetitive, and tedious tasks such as copy, move, and verification of data. Many agencies outsource the AMS data entry and validation, heavy lifting to 3rd party outsourcing companies. The costs of migrations need to be viewed for internal and external costs. Nights, weekends, and overtime benefits are typical for nonexempt resources and need to be factored into the cost of migration. Another factor of traditional migration method is the requirements of specialized tools or applications required to complete the migration. Often these are purchases or are leased for one-off migrations. Larger agencies that are in a state of continuous expansions through M & A may have to make long term commitment to these tools.
When AMS migration projects last longer than planned, resources are used longer than anticipated. Many agencies suffer the loss of productivity, disruptions to an existing business, and client attrition due to poor service. The schedule overrun may impact sales operations and agency success. AMS migration budget overruns can directly affect the budget of other IT projects, like CRM or analytics, and change an Agency’s competitiveness. The budget overruns of data migration may reduce the overall cost/benefit for the AMS adoption. Accounting, document, and data conversion are the top three areas which get impacted whenever an AMS migration happens. If during the transition, any customer data is lost or customer’s access to the information is curtailed, there could be severe PR backlash. Also, there could be legal suggestions and revenue impacts with loss of data.
In fact, many agencies, smaller and larger ones too, postpone migrating to a more evolved AMS for many reasons including the above. While they appreciate the value the new AMS can bring, they are not willing to pay an arm and a leg for its adoption. Many of them postpone their migration weighing the benefits of staying with existing AMS heavily. The high cost of consultants and adoption time weighs heavily against their ability to invest and monetize IT systems. Many can’t afford to have a dedicated IT team and business team dedicated to transition from legacy to new AMS. Limited managerial bandwidth limits their ability to invest and adopt new AMS even if they are willing to spend.
Exdion Automated AMS Migration
Exdion Solutions has developed a smart approach to AMS migration. Exdion uses cutting edge technologies including AI, Machine learning, RPA, and data science to completely automate the arduous task of data cleaning, data copy, and move correct data to the new system. For agencies, migration is an event not only to funnel data from one system to another, but also to improve or upgrade workflows within the agency and with the carriers. From training the new process and procedure to shift, Exdion’s automated solution will help the Agency’s input data rightly in the outgoing system and manage the change efficiently.
Exdion automated AMS migration includes these steps:
- Create a document outlining of the migration plan and how long it will take
- Agencies must create custom workflow that represents the agency’s service process. Follow clients through their journey with the Agency. Agencies will be able to track and export their entire process log easily
- Assess to identify various types of data and discuss the best plan for importing data in the right Format
- Take data back up from current Agency Management System
- Create Sample data for testing
- Create templates for importing
- Automated BOTs to clean up data and push or import information into AMS based on the expiration list
- Migrate the data in phases, start the process one year before the renewal to avoid data maintenance issues and adoption challenges. It will allow business continuity
- Audit Post Migration – Perform audit post migration to check the integrity of migrated data
By minimizing risk and costs for data migrations, Exdion automated AMS migrations help agencies reduce operating costs and more easily prevent technological obsolescence. With Exdion automated AMS Migration, overtime, weekends and late nights are entirely eliminated. With Exdion automated AMS migration solution, an Agency can realize higher efficiency as data and business process are integrated into a single platform.
Figure 1 illustrates the different cost elements of traditional and automation approach to AMS migration. Additional cost benefits accruing due to automated AMS migration. Project FTE costs can be halved, rollouts can be faster, and data uploads be error-free. Additional cost elements like tools required for migration and active license cost usage are optimized. It must be clarified that these data are from a limited sample and are broadly indicative. The assessment is based on the standard data format of two accessible AMS in the market and limited data set. With automated AMS migration, agencies need not be worried about the export data in the right format. With automated AMS migration, customer experience is not impacted. Shorter migration with enhanced customer interaction workflows without any disruption is the most significant advantage of automated AMS migration. Automated migration allows agencies to set a data migration scheme and mitigate all risks and costs.
Time to Change:
Agencies are required to change their AMS to stay relevant and competitive in their markets. AMS migration must enable customers and employees to complete their work efficiently and without any disruption. Depending on the available resources and expertise, agencies might decide to pursue automating migration using internal or external resources. Either way, automated migration is a complex process requiring collaborative effort amongst different groups and individuals. The essential requirement for successful automated AMS migration is not technology but skilled and experienced people. Automation is successful only if the customers have a delightful experience. ”. For agencies it is, think out of the box moment. Embrace emergent technologies and automate work to stay competitive and stay relevant. Partner with companies that understand the significance of positive customer experience.