Keeping up with evolving technology is a constant challenge for pools. To consider pool technology needs and learn from each other, a small group of members gathered March 28 and 29 for a Technology Systems Implementation Meeting.
Pools shared experiences and examples of claims and policy system implementations, as well as implementation needs and risks for other pool systems.
Below are some top takeaways from the meeting:
Conversations about the RFP process for technology systems primarily focused on the importance of evaluating the quality of the intended relationship with a service provider. Ways of doing this include:
- Request references and resumes for the suggested transition and service team.
- Require key representatives be assigned to the account and reserve the right to choose replacements if necessary.
- Create hypothetical scenarios for potential providers to respond to.
- Don’t just talk to the sales team. Meet the people who will be doing the actual work and try to gauge what that working relationship could look like. Is there a solid connection with these people?
- Make sure all parties understand the common definitions of industry terminology to prevent miscommunication.
When it comes to keeping your pool governing body updated about the RFP and selection process:
- Provide brief, regular updates through a project goal stoplight or infographic.
- Work with your governing body over time to adopt a goal for technology. Demonstrate how investing in technology now will prevent future technology debt.
One other valuable tip is the importance of having a top-notch project manager to shepherd a successful implementation. This project manager could be someone already staffing the pool, a contracted resource, or provided by the service provider.
On a related note, if your pool has an open RFP be sure to send it to AGRiP for posting on the AGRiP website at no cost to member pools.
Managing the vast amounts of data that pools work with is a constant concern and spawned great conversations around business process improvements, data migration, and data security.
Implementing a new technology system is the perfect time to evaluate current business processes and make them better, which could mean additional stress for the pool team in the short term, but will reap great benefits for everyone in the long term.
Regarding data management, a few key ideas emerged:
- Pre-migration work (data clean up, mapping) is vital and easier than trying to fix problems after the fact.
- Consider your storage needs. Large files like police dash cam footage can equal terabytes of data and accompanying large fees for storage.
- Make sure you understand how images will be stored and filed.
Having a data warehouse or data lake separate from your claims or policy system ensures the pool has long-term control over its data and data structure.
Many pools still engage in heavy use of Excel to conduct underwriting functions. Meeting attendees largely agreed that a policy system includes:
- Schedule management
- Document generation
- Policy issuance
Member Portals and Dashboards
When it comes to portals and dashboards, attendees vary widely on the resources they’re providing to members. Some areas where there are commonalities include:
- Generating loss runs
- Viewing class codes
- Submitting claims
- Providing a claims dashboard (view-only)
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a tool every pool needs, yet there doesn’t appear to be one that is a perfect fit for the pooling community. Not yet, at least.
Among a CRM’s key functions is keeping contacts up to date and several important concepts emerged from the group tied to the issue:
- Data integrity is a top priority. Information may flow from several sources, but it should generally funnel through just one or two staff members.
- Data sources must be verified.
- If members are given the ability to update contact information it should still be reviewed and approved by the pool in a central spot.
- Asking members for contact updates annually is a good practice.
As cyber attacks become more sophisticated, pools are finding a need to step up their staff training to identify and avoid phishing emails and scams. While staff awareness of cyber attacks is important, a solid digital defense is an even more crucial line of protection.
Everyone loves to talk about building an app or adding some AI functionality to their website, but what do pools really need? And will members actually use this new technology? Implementing new technologies can be time consuming and expensive, so it’s important to take a long, honest look at your pool and member needs, today and into the future, to determine if implementing a new technology now makes sense.
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Many of our QEI Patrons and Partner Members offer services that can help your pool with claims and policy systems, and technology implementation planning.