17 Oct 2017

Better Insurance Software Decisions 303 – Speed Trap Ahead

By: John Baker

Better Insurance Software Decisions 303 – Speed Trap Ahead

People say you shouldn't live in the past. Yet where software deployments are concerned, it's all too common for companies to need it done yesterday.

The wish for instant solutions is understandable. Putting out fires is a common challenge for business leaders, according to Strategy+Business contributor Elizabeth Doty: "Every leader I know wrestles with these and other crises as a matter of routine," she said.

But there is a cost to living in firefighting mode all the time. How that cost is measured – in team morale, brand equity, or some other factor – is a matter of circumstance. Point is, when companies maintain a culture of chasing behind instead of forging ahead, some aspect of their business is sure to suffer.

On the flip side, proactive leaders (those "who excel at adapting") are 6.7 times more likely to succeed, according to Harvard Business Review. And one of the things that sets proactive leaders apart is that they think ahead.

"Most CEOs know they have to divide their attention among short-, medium-, and long-term perspectives, but the adaptable CEOs spent significantly more of their time – as much as 50% – thinking about the long term."

Long-term thinking is crucial for a smart software buying decision. Rather than waiting until the need for a solution is acute, do your homework well in advance, while you have plenty of time to dial in the details.

How long is long enough? We recommend allowing yourself six months to determine your needs, research vendors, get multiple demos, and lock in a price. Let's break it down.

1. Identify your needs

Work with your team to identify the problems you want to solve. List all the business and product lines you need to support. Evaluate how your process works and gather documentation on your existing systems and workflows.

By doing your homework carefully at this step, you're setting your vendor up for success. They rely on you to communicate your needs; if you're not sure what to tell them, there's only so much they can do. For that reason, it's impossible to overstate the importance of this step. Be sure to give it the time and attention it deserves.

2. Research vendors

Here your focus turns outward. Now that your needs are clearly articulated, it's time to identify vendors that are familiar with your market or line of business, that have built systems to solve the specific needs and challenges you face.

In other words, get specific. Don't assume that just because a solution was a good fit for a life insurance that it will do equally well for auto insurance. Find a vendor with implementations in businesses like yours.

3. Get a demo for each department

Once you're ready for demos, don't stop at a high level. Request multiple demos, focusing on different layers or departments of your business, and evaluate the user experience at each level. Independent agents, vendors, underwriting, claims, customer service, billing, accounting: how does the solution perform for each? How does it look on the front-end? How about the back-end?

4. Negotiate the contract

While this step may seem like the highest stakes, if you've devoted proper attention to steps 1-3, this should be the easy part. When you're clear on what you need, and you're sure of the solution, it's much easier to determine the pricing and other contract parameters.

As always, Silvervine Software is your low-risk, high-reward insurance software partner. Want to learn more? Request a demo.

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