One of the toughest decisions a manager has to make is recognizing when it is better to update existing computer equipment and software or replace them with new technology.
The idea of mastering new programs can be daunting and the thought of training every employee on the new system boggles the mind. However, the reward of increased employee productivity and customer satisfaction combined with reduced expenses on maintenance and support can make the change an easy decision.
Insurance companies that have delayed purchasing new systems are fortunate. In the last year, new technology has created breakthroughs in performance, pricing and availability. Web-enabled policy management software systems that fully integrate day-to-day activities such as checking ratings, generating new policies, processing claims, issuing invoices and producing management reports are now available at a fraction of the cost of earlier technology.
There are a lot of software companies competing for business. Before making a decision, CIOs and office managers need to ask the following questions:
Is the software system already operational?
Find out if the software system being considered is under development or ready for market, and expect to see a demonstration. It should be fully operational even though minor modifications to customize screens or to incorporate proprietary programs are required.
Any software firm that regularly deals with insurance companies will be familiar with daily operations and should have designed policy administration programs that perform the standard functions. When these multiple functions are integrated into one system, employees become more productive. An insurance company could triple the number of policies processed in a day. It is a waste of time to key in the same data more than once as required by systems with separate programs for each activity.
Dont become the test case. Find out if the software is installed and working at another location. Reputable companies with a solid product will be glad to provide the name of satisfied customers to support their marketing claims.
If no one can provide a testimonial, it may be that the products they sold to other companies a year or two ago are still in development. It should only take a few months to assess the exact needs of the customer, order the equipment, customize it and install the new system.
Is the technology truly advanced?
Most sales representatives are convinced that the system they are selling is a vast improvement over anything in the market. But a knowledgeable manager should be ready to ask questions.
The new Web-enabled software systems use the power of the Internet to link the corporate office with branch offices, agents and others. Anyone who has a computer with Internet service and meets security criteria can access the necessary customer files, cutting down on time spent transferring files, generating estimates and providing input on customer activity.