Insurance Product Development: Streamline the Entire Process for Speed-to-Market Advantage
By Mike Key, Vice President Business Development, Global Core Insurance at SAP
Do you need to deliver better, more responsive services to customers, and improve your time to market? This is no longer wishful thinking in the insurance industry – it’s the only way to succeed. For Insurance Companies product speed to market and flexibility are top priorities, however only a small proportion are actually getting it right as discussed in my earlier blog about Speed and Flexibility: The New Mantra for the Insurance Industry and as highlighted in a recent report from The Economist Intelligence Unit.
However, despite prevailing challenges in the insurance sector, there are significant opportunities for you to streamline your product development cycle to achieve more – faster.
When pressed about product speed to market, executives can generally only give rough timeframes. Yet they are only too well aware of legacy constraints that impact their ability to respond to market or competitive changes.
Even the companies that can provide informed metrics on speed can typically only provide the time benchmarked from when the new product definition was scheduled by the IT department. This does not take into account all the work conducted in marketing, compliance, operations, and product development prior to the IT department receiving their schedule of work.
However, those businesses that have focused on improving speed to market, have ascertained that the ideation and development stages of the product development cycle are typically as long as, or even longer than, the timeframe required for actually programming the legacy environments.
Surprisingly, this ideation stage is typically loosely managed, without formal processes. In most cases there’s no workflow even though it includes many interaction points between marketing, compliance, product development, sales, operations, and IT.
Business Process Transformation
It doesn’t make sense that this part of the product development cycle is so loosely controlled. Especially when you consider how a project, once it’s active in the IT organization, falls under the project management organization and is tightly managed. There is comprehensive visibility through progress reports, timelines, and the ability to identify potential bottlenecks in deliverables and reallocate resources to improve delays and target dates.
Repeatable and manageable process
To achieve optimal speed to market, it surely makes sense to apply the same degree of rigor to the early stages of the development process as it does to the later stages.
And this means having a repeatable and manageable process with a centralized single source of the truth for existing product content. Add to this profile-restricted access to the product change and creation process allowing for collaboration and access to a library of reusable forms, verbiage, and components, and you have streamlined efficiency.
In all, this allows for product definition right down into reusable assets. In one deft move you can simplify the components of the product portfolio while providing greater flexibility to differentiate the marketable offerings by channel and target customer.
As a case in point, one of our customers has been able to transform their product development process using this approach. In just the first 12 months, the company improved the speed to market of new products by a staggering 40%.
And while the company was delighted with this result, it was able to continue to improve the speed to market for the next two years. All this was achieved through organizational, process, and workflow changes that centered on the use of a product agility factory. There were no expensive, time-consuming changes to their legacy administrative systems.
Interested in finding out more? Why not discover how SAP is helping insurance companies around the world turn organizational and workflow changes into significant competitive advantage.
Look forward to your Thoughts. Please follow me on Twitter @Mike_Key.