When it comes to buying and updating computer systems for an agency, there are plenty of pitfalls to be avoided, but according to networking and systems experts, the biggest pitfall may be failing to consider the way the agency does business and how technology can play a part in that.
According to Eli Dabich, Jr., president of Synergy 2000, Inc. of Pasadena, Calif., “Whos got the best technology doesnt mean diddly.” Usually, he explains, agents decisions on purchasing technology products and services are made on an emotional basis rather than on the merits.
“Agency principals usually dont know that much about the detail of the day-to-day operations and where the bottlenecks are and what the strengths and weaknesses are,” asserts Dabich, whose company does systems integration for insurance and financial services firms. “The customer service reps know, and the agent will make a decision that the CSRs like.”
CSRs, he adds, are often long-term employees who are “not prone to rocking the boat and changing things,” thus they are more likely to want the status quo. “That means picking a system where I dont have to re-engineer my workflow,” says Dabich.
He maintains, however that before making any decisions on technology products or services, an agency needs to re-evaluate how it does business and consider how it might restructure its workflow for better efficiency.
“They may also want to re-evaluate their product set and the companies [with whom they write business],” Dabich adds.
An important question for agents to consider, Dabich notes, is how insurance applications come into the agency–including fax, electronic and paper documents. “My prediction is that you will have two commission schedules, one for electronic applications and one for paper.” Commissions should be lower for paper, he notes, because paper applications cost the agency more to process.
“I actually suggested [the two-commission approach] to a client,” says Dabich. “It was like a giant light went on in the room.”
When it comes to automating or updating an agencys workflow processes, getting the right software is often the stumbling block, Dabich observes. “Hardware is cheap; its not your main cost. Its the software thats the problem. I can change my wife easier than I can change software.