Today, enterprises have become data-intensive! It is all about controlling expenses, increasing efficiency and above all engaging with customers. The insurance Industry is no exception. To generate a significant business value proposition, improve collaboration among employees and ensuring documentation is properly produced, controlled and audit-able, several insurance companies are harnessing the power of Microsoft SharePoint.
Traditionally, claims and risk management documents were accessed through a hodgepodge of phone calls, e-mails and spreadsheets, making it difficult for the customer to have a unified view of their relationship with an insurer in real time.
In my experience, the primary reason for moving the data from these systems into a portal was two-fold. One was to allow a place for customers to track their transactions and interactions with the insurance company. Secondly, it would allow employees to work with a web-based, user-friendly application that centralized data from disparate (and often not the prettiest looking) enterprise systems internally.
Here are 5 SharePoint capabilities that generate business value in the insurance industry
Improved Records Management:
In this digital age, hard copy documents are still a part of life, especially when you are working with the insurance industry. To have documents 100% digitized is still unrealistic for some insurers. Another challenge faced by many insurers is the shear quantum of information, multiple versions of the same document and the different formats in which information is routinely created.
SharePoint is one of the best tools available to handle all documents – even if they come by email, fax, videos, audio, attachments, others. SharePoint allows you to design effective content structuring & indexing and helps configure easy-to-use records storehouses.
So, not only can SharePoint out-of-the-box fulfill the needs of a complex records management program, we haven’t even scratched the surface of all the other places your organization may be storing data that needs to be governed. This includes email, file shares, Office 365, third-party cloud storage or even physical locations. Having a central file plan that can be applied to all of your records is true records management, or as we at Trigent like to say, complete information governance.
In today’s business, policies and procedures are likely to change more frequently than ever imagined. Whether you are a sales agent, customer service representative or a marketing personnel, it is imperative that you understand the policies and procedures that apply to your business. While change is unavoidable, as an insurance company you want to have full control around how and when you respond to change.
Change Management around the policies and procedures is a classic example of a perfect use case for SharePoint. The Enterprise Content Management features in SharePoint is flexible and robust and allows you to control content dissemination. In a more controlled situation, you can use document management capabilities to establish workflows and sanction processes to ensure changes are fully scrutinized and approved before being communicated to employees who are working with customers. In less critical scenarios where change is more frequent and the need for tight controls are not obligatory, a more collaborative approach to information sharing and dissemination with features like wikis, discussions and news-feeds can be applied. SharePoint allows you to manage and control content dissemination via simple to complex workflows that can be customized to meet your business needs.
To successfully develop and deliver your solution, you must put in place the tools and processes and knowledge required to successfully perform change management. Work together. Work faster. Work smarter … ok, that is a Microsoft SharePoint marketing angle as well, but they, all, are equally true.
SharePoint Change Management Benefits:
- Improved visibility of pending and historical changes
- Ensure process compliance and accountability with full audit capabilities
- Enforce estimation, risk management, testing and approval tasks
- Measure continuous improvement
Just as every company has different approaches to a Change Management process they likely have many different processes. These processes may even differ between parts of the organization. For example, the workflow process to on-board someone in IT will likely be different than the process to on-board a customer service rep or a claims rep. SharePoint has robust workflow capabilities that have been around since 2007 and have gotten better and more flexible with each release.
Adopting a business process management strategy and using BPM tools can help streamline processes, reduce human error, and develop greater integration between systems like SharePoint and the workflows of the people who use them. While SharePoint is not designed to be an enterprise-scale BPM system, this platform can offer some BPM benefits, especially from a workflow management standpoint.
While on-boarding is an obvious workflow scenario that everyone mentions, where I think SharePoint can really shine for the insurance industry/sector is in all the smaller departmental and divisional processes that get overlooked because they aren’t used by the whole enterprise. Workflow in these areas provides value because it can be the tool to create something repeatable out of what is often common knowledge. In many insurance companies that I have worked with in the past, the first part of joining the team entails long orientation and training sessions. Certainly much of this is important training on industry and regulatory information, however, much of it is also trying to disseminate that knowledge on how the departments work. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could build these processes into a system where everyone could follow them more easily?
Savvy managers leverage the amazing out-of-box BPM features of SharePoint to make their lives easier and more efficient. If you’re a staff member struggling with keeping your management informed and in the loop while still getting actual work done, you need to make the case for using SharePoint to make your life much easier.
Another great thing about using SharePoint workflows for process management is that you can invest as little or as much as you feel is needed to support your particular process. You can use many out of the box workflows like approvals, and signatures or you can build your own in a SharePoint Designer. If those don’t fit the need you can go so far as to develop a highly customized workflow using Visual Studio or even other 3rd party tools.
In Insurance, just like any industry, your people and more importantly the knowledge they bring is a critical part of your business. At times, it can be a challenge to know who has what information, especially as a business grows or as employees move from job to job within the organization. With SharePoint you can leverage many capabilities to help provide a place to go for those that have questions.
I have helped many departments both large and small, create knowledge bases with features like Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), discussions, documentation on processes and so on. Since all this information is also tied into the user answering questions and providing the information, it’s easy to know who is knowledgeable on a particular subject no matter where they are (or who they are) within your organization.
Great Knowledge Management requires a Great User Experience – The challenge I often see with knowledge management is getting it off the ground and getting people who are busy with their own work to participate. Many times a reward or recognition system for contributing helps get people to engage and build a community of knowledge that will benefit everyone.
To jump-start Knowledge Management with SharePoint all you need are 3 easy steps:
- Create, manage and improve your corporate taxonomies as managed metadata in the SharePoint Term Store.
- Add managed metadata columns to almost any SharePoint list and library. Classify your content by applying your taxonomy terms.
- Make use of content classification by improved search, filters, navigations, news feeds, content relationship and more.
Really no solution that provides the ability to create and store so much digital content would be worth as much without a very robust search engine. Search in SharePoint is powerful and flexible and can really be tuned and customized to your needs. It has grown and has been improved with each release. I think a scenario is the best way to describe its value.
Imagine you search for the term “marketing manual” and get back a list of 5000 items. That’s probably more items than you were prepared for, but you know it’s a document, so you apply a filter to get just documents and maybe another because you know the manual was just updated last week. Suddenly you are down to a much more manageable list of items. Items that you can mouse over and get a preview of the contents and the author.
The scenario above is really just the “out of the box” scenario, the great thing about SharePoint is the ability to “truly” customize search. You can change how results and refiners/ filters are shown, change how things are previewed and add previews for other types of files. Of course, you can also configure search to find content that is not even in SharePoint with the ability to show results across many line of business systems all in a single place.
I have summarized my many years of experience, consulting and building SharePoint solutions in the insurance industry and is really just the tip of the iceberg for the many uses for SharePoint.
Trigent has broad experience and competences in the insurance industry; we deliver services and SharePoint solutions that integrate sales, marketing, customer service and other processes, enabling insurers to optimize their business, streamline processes and deliver best products and services across various channels to reach the digitized generation while keeping costs under control.
One of our passions at Trigent is being able to listen to customers, take their needs, and map them to the right SharePoint features. We would love to hear from you and help you make the most of your investment in SharePoint.
NOTE: This article has been published on LinkedIn Pulse: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-ways-maximize-business-value-insurance-sharepoint-abishek-bhat