In my last blog, I shared the first 5 tips for navigating the implementation maze. Here are the last 5 to help you succeed in implementing your digital core system for an end-to-end insurance policy administration system.

1. Be smart with modifications

Most insurance companies understand that customizing their systems adds time, cost and risk to the project. Customizations, as well as integrations and data conversion, are often the main areas of technical risk and effort in solution implementations. Few core insurance implementations have zero customizations, but it is imperative to consider each carefully.

Don’t set out to build the perfect world from day one. Instead, introduce the concept of ‘minimal viable product’. Ask yourself: What are the minimum features and functionality we need to run our business efficiently?

2. Choose the right project team members

People from all levels and functions within your organization should be closely involved in the project.

Most insurance companies need to look outside of their own resource pool to ensure the success of an implementation project. In-house teams aren’t likely to be familiar with major IT implementations, while the right consultants will have years of experience and be aware of current best practice.

External consultants bring in key skills and industry knowledge that are extremely important in running large projects smoothly. Even if you have some skills already in-house, outside experts can add specific capabilities that complete your team.

3. Manage change and communication effectively

You need organization-wide buy-in if you want the project to run smoothly. When a major change like a core-system replacement is communicated openly and early by company leaders, it’s easier for everyone in the company to rally behind a project.

Know who your stakeholders are and have a plan for how to manage and communicate with them. Besides regular communication and general awareness, proper change management is crucial. Projects like this involve stakeholders across the organization – people who have learned roles, processes and behaviors over many years. Don’t expect people to change their way of doing things overnight. Strive to win their hearts and minds with regular project updates and reminders of the project goals.

Read our in-depth look at implementation here.

4. Involve users from across the business
In order to make sure the solution meets the needs of all users, involve representatives from the relevant business units in testing and rolling out of the system. Creating a collaborative process will help support organizational buy-in and a successful project outcome.

Different business units can have different needs and success criteria for the project. Involving the business units in the implementation helps ensure no major roadblocks emerge later in the process.

It takes time and money for your employees to become proficient in the new system and processes. Don’t look at training as an expense, realize it’s an investment.

5. Plan a maintenance strategy up front

Successful IT organizations put strategic forethought and resourcing into their maintenance strategy when the new core system is being designed. Don’t wait until the project is under way to define this core component. There are two viable options for delivering this strategy: in-house team or an external supplier.

If you want to keep application maintenance as an in-house activity, you need to have a clear understanding of the current composition and skill set of your maintenance team.

Alternatively, many IT organizations choose to run application management with an outsourced partner. There are many companies out there that offer this type of support. Whichever company you choose needs a well-defined service level agreement in place for software upgrades, periodic reviews and system modifications.

Is it worth it?

Replacing your core systems may seem like a daunting prospect – and there’s no denying it is a significant piece of work. But in a digital world where customers demand more from their insurance provider, you need the flexibility to adapt your products based on market demand and handle customer interactions seamlessly. And the only way to achieve those things is with a core platform that’s responsive, connected and agile.

With careful planning, good internal communication and realistic goal setting, your legacy modernization initiative needn’t be a headache. Focus on your employees, not just your customers, making sure that you provide support and training to help them be efficient in their jobs. Your priority should always be the delivery of exceptional customer service that will help you retain and win customers in a competitive market.