The Impact of New Software on Change Management
Jewelers Mutual Insurance recognized the importance of change management as the insurer went through the process of replacing its policy administration system. Tammy Tatro, business support program manager for Jewelers, reports that as the insurer kicked off the software implementation they also began a change management initiative.
“We replaced several systems at the same time so we knew the impact to our organization would be huge,” says Tatro. “We also recognized the impact this would have on the day-to-day lives of the people in our building.”
Change management involved a multi-step process for Jewelers, explains Tatro. The first step was to invite the staff to take part in sessions where they could get an idea of what the status quo was and learn more about the biggest pain points.
The staff was queried on what they would like to see happen to improve their own job performance. Jewelers was experiencing tremendous growth at this point and Tatro explains they weren`t going through the change simply to play catch up, but so they wouldn't have to hire more employees as the growth continued.
“We assured people they still had a job, but it might be different work,” says Tatro. “We emphasized there was plenty of work to do in the future and asked for input on the best way to accomplish that work with the new tools. We took that in mind as we customized the new systems.”
Some carriers turn to the vendor for help in change management and Guidewire was supportive of the effort shown by the Jewelers staff, but the insurer felt change management should come from within the ranks of the company—a more organic effort—than from outside consultants.
“We relied on our vendors to help us understand the options the software had and what features we could make the most from,” says Tatro. “We couldn't give the staff everything they wanted but we were able to ask the vendors what they could do for us.”
As Jewelers learned what the systems were designed to do, the insurer was able to change some tasks and let the staff start practice that work even without the new systems in place. “We couldn't do everything in advance, but we did more than we thought we could,” says Tatro.
Without an agile development approach, the change management portion of the project would have been more difficult for the carrier, according to Tatro. The change management team along with all of the development teams were able to conduct small deliverables, which helped Jewelers get an idea of what the end result would resemble.
“Having to guess about what would come would definitely be more difficult,” she says.
Jewelers implemented the Guidewire system for personal lines two years ago and went through a full year of conversion. Commercial lines was implemented a year ago and just completed that conversion.
Tatro reports after implementation of the personal lines, that department conducted an internal study of what employees were doing. They have since made another modification to processes and how the staff was aligned. For commercial lines it's been more difficult.
“It was a little rocky last year during conversion as they used both old and new systems, so time will tell,” says Tatro. “We need to let them settle into the new normal and then have that department reassess their processes. There will be modifications along the way. It's difficult when you implement something of that size. People feel more comfortable with the way they used to do something.”
Jewelers does not have a continued mission to study processes. Tatro explains the individual departments will be assessing what should stay the same or change, which takes time and effort, especially when you look at a large scale.
“Our company has not made that an ongoing effort, although it could possibly be something that is done in the future,” she says. “We rolled out the processes, but there has not been a lot of organizational oversight since the implementation. I'd like to see that change for every product we put in.”
Jewelers did discover that one of its operations units was still using the old system for mailing letters and responses to customers. Tatro feels that's no longer needed.
“You need to recognize when reverting back to the old process is happening and evaluate why it is happening,” she says. “Is it a people issue, a resistance to the new way, a problem with the software, or do they not understand the new processes or systems? People are clever and find a way they are more comfortable working even if it doesn't help them in the long run.”
In personal lines, it once took new members of the customer service staff six months to get trained and learn the system; today, new hires are on-boarded in less than two months.
“They've seen significant improvements in how they do the work,” says Tatro. “They are able to get more work done without hiring additional staff.”
In commercial lines, it`s been a little tricky with new business applications as we adjusted to the new systems and were converting existing policies, but things are now moving quicker from submissions to turning it back to the agents.
“We also have some better automated renewal features now so there is no manual intervention,” says Tatro. “With this feature we have better control and we don't have to go through months of programming to modify it.”