Streamlining workflows in a manner that integrates technology isnot for the faint of heart. It requires a total attitude shift foreveryone. The old way of working--where staff touches a transactionmultiple times--is over. The new way of "one and done" is criticalto successful agency management. The goal is to create workflowsthat maximize the capabilities of technology first. If it can bedone on the computer, do it there--once. A transaction does notneed to be duplicated two and three time "just in case" or "becausewe've always done it this way."

Agency management systems are rife with under-utilized andunder-appreciated features, such as:

  • ActivityTracking. Using too many codes makes it impossible totrack transactions from beginning to end. In any department, 12codes should be sufficient. Many agencies get by with 10: proof ofinsurance, endorsement, cancellation, audit, new business, renewal,marketing/quoting, binding, coverage inquiry, underwriting.
  • SubmissionTracking. Most management systems have the ability toexpand the activity feature to provide tracking for submissions bycarrier. Some systems even allow the sender to attach documentssuch as quotes or declinations. These tracking systems providevaluable information with little or no additional effort.
  • Sales andMarketing. Agencies perform account reviews at renewal inthe name of customer service with the goal of increasing revenueand eliminating E&O exposures. An incredible amount of time isspent reviewing accounts at renewal looking for gaps in coverage orrounding accounts. This can be accomplished with target marketingcampaigns that search the agency database of clients that meet thecriteria.
  • Direct BillCommission Download. Technology can take over the processof manually billing direct bill policies. Software can generatecommission statements and eliminate most direct billinvoicing.
  • Electronic FilingFeatures. In today's agency offices, there is no need fora traditional client file. While a truly paperless office remainsan unrealized dream in most agencies, scanning paperwork andstoring it electronically is gaining proponents. All electronictransactions should be stored electronically.

Monitoring activity for a 90-day period can provide valuableinformation on how effectively a system is being utilized. The testshould provide answers in four basic areas:

  • Is the datameaningful? Can you determine the number of endorsementtransactions recorded, the number of certificates issued? If not,there may be a problem with the activity codes.
  • Can you segregateout the marketing/submission/quoting activity codes bycarrier? If not, submission tracking may not beimplemented.
  • Are there CSRswith too few activities? Are CSRs able to do their workwithout recording the transaction in an activity? If not, thisusually means they are working from paper files and not utilizingthe timesaving functions available in the system.
  • Is the workloadevenly distributed among the staff? If not, it may be timeto be more creative in distributing work and developing the processrole. Once fully developed, tasks handled by the process role canbe delegated to a carrier service center (really a carrierprocessing center) or outsourced.

These are just a few clues to help you assess your currenttechnology implementation. A free comprehensive assessmentdocument, Best Practices Guides for Agency Business Processes andInformation Management, is available at http://www.iiaba.net/.

Agency managers who are serious about integrating technology,workflow, and people, reap significant rewards: Capacity isincreased as inefficient manual processes are eliminated andreplaced with automated efficient workflows; service improvesbecause the right people are doing the right work all the time,resulting in higher retention; E&O exposure is reduced asredundancy is eliminated and automated reviews are put in place;workloads are evenly distributed and monitored, ensuring staffinggoals are met; revenue per employee increases as new businessproduction increases without adding additional staff.

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