We’ve Selected the System, Now What?


We've Selected the System, Now What?A core system transformation is one of the most critical, expensive, and time-consuming strategic investments a carrier will take on. It’s a decision that will impact the next decade and beyond. Once the decision has been made, and the celebratory client/vendor dinner is over, the meter starts running and the real work begins.

During our vendor selection engagements, carriers often ask vendors, “What is your on-time and on-budget success rate?” While it may seem like a simple question, the answer is complex and depends on many variables, the key drivers being scope and speed of decision-making. When vendors use terms like MVP (minimum viable product) it can sound like “bare bones to get it into production” to the business community. Therefore, it’s critical to have a strong framework in place from the beginning to position yourself for success.

Any successful core system transformation framework needs to have certain key elements. It starts with having executive sponsorship and engagement at the highest levels of the organization and identifying the key project roles and responsibilities. Select business product owners who can step away from their full-time job and have a back-up in place to cover for them; this responsibility cannot be done as a part-time role or side gig. 

These product owners must have the authority and strategic vision to make decisions, which may include abandoning the “way we’ve always done it.” The strategic vision component must also be balanced with being in the weeds enough to understand the impact of those decisions on existing workflows, employees, and customer experiences. The business product owner will be accountable for the system long after it’s in production so they will want to ensure it meets all of their needs.

Equally important is strong project management. Having a program manager experienced in core system modernization lead the initiative, with project managers over each workstream (policy, billing, claims), is vital as it is not uncommon to run concurrent workstreams. The program manager plays the critical role of overseeing the interdependencies and interconnectivity of three simultaneous projects that would each be a sizeable effort if approached as stand-alone!

Companies often leverage a systems integrator (SI) in these roles as they bring strong project management experience as well as experience implementing these vendor solutions, and they can leverage best practices and lessons learned from past implementations.

Once the key roles have been defined and participants identified, establish an executive steering committee (ESC) to ensure the project is on track. The ESC also helps make sure the project remains aligned with the strategic goals, provides a forum for key decisions that may impact one or more departments, can help address and resolve any challenges or issues, and keeps the executive team engaged and aware of project health. Depending on the frequency of meetings, it is also a good idea to have key leadership from the vendor participate in the ESC for all the same reasons.

If you have thoughts or want to discuss this topic further, please reach out to me directly at [email protected].