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.
The FedNat Insured Web is a great tool for our insureds!
They like having a centralized location to view policy info, make payments, upload policy documents, and elect to become paperless to receive a discount.
The insureds also can file a First Notice of Loss for a claim and access exiting claim info. Silvervine recently enhanced the site which allows insureds to upload policy documents directly to their policy. The uploaded docs go directly into our workflows and save a lot of manual effort on our part.
From my visits with agents, the agents appreciate the app for the amount of time saved on having to download and attach photos directly to the policy.
The app can also reduce the amount of staff required for a busy office to fulfill underwriting requests for photos.
When training agents they are amazed at how quickly the photos attach directly to the policy. After taking photos using the app and before they make it back to their desk, the photo is already attached to the policy. They also like the ability to attach additional photos for pre-existing damage.
Customer Service is seeing an improvement with retention as the text message definitely triggers phone calls from insureds to make payments.
The insureds love the fact that we notify them on their phones because they state that sometimes they don’t receive their mail for various reasons.
The insureds are paying more attention to the texts then to their actual mail. We try to set all of our customers up on that option if we notice that they are not currently enrolled, as it builds great customer relations as well as retention.
As a company we have adopted the use of Policy Scan for all our policies, and our agents have adopted the use of the app as well.
Not only is it easy to use, there is also no more worrying about losing photos, having to store photos or photos being attached to the wrong policy.
With Policy Scan we have increased efficiency in our workflow and reduced our exposure on the risk.
Silvervine’s core administration solutions easily handles multiple carriers within multiple states, including accounting, payment processing, immediate policy issuance and endorsements.
What started out writing one product, one line in one state has now grown into mulitple products, multiple lines and writing in multiple states. We have over $95 million in annualized premium in-force and we expect to grow by 20% during the next year all serviced by Silvervine.
Silvervine was our insurance software system of choice when we started the company in 2006. Silvervine enabled us to begin business within a few months of licensing the company. Today, we are one of the top 20 homeowner’s writers in Texas and SIlvervine’s solutions have been an integral part of our success.