Insurance Workflow Can Be Improved by Building in Records Management and Consolidation Up Front

Topics: Financial Services Records and Information Management

Insurance companies are among the largest users of content and records management technology but have nevertheless failed to provide the document and records management capabilities their users and customers desire.

Back in the late 1980s, insurance workflow became one of the earliest targets for enterprise content management (ECM) and workflow technology since it was so document-intensive and ripe for automated orchestration. Since then, insurance workflow has remained one of the largest target markets for ECM, business process management (BPM) and records management, with virtually every insurance company using these technologies.

A recent 2014 Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) study found that records and document management is viewed as the most likely common business processes for improvement.

These three factors account for this state of affairs:

Lack of Coordinated Systems

In its latest "State of the Industry" survey of ECM users, AIIM found that 72 percent of larger organizations have three or more ECM/data management/records management systems in place, while 25 percent have five or more. Most of these systems are barely integrated at the content repository level, let alone the business process level. In most cases the systems are kept siloed in different lines of business, making a coordinated Information Governance program problematic.

Some of this is due to a company's mergers and acquisitions resulting in disparate systems, and some of it is due to the fact that ECM is typically implemented at the department and unit level even though business processes often cross these units. It is important to remember that most of these processes begin and end with the customer. Any insurance workflow that does not incorporate the customer is incomplete; it is no wonder that managing records and documents can be difficult in this environment.

Old Systems

The industry still has plenty of "green screen" and client-server-based systems in use. This reality is reflected in the "State of the Industry" survey, which found that 68 percent of installed ECM systems have no browser or mobile-access options. Many people now interact with their insurance company via smartphones, tablets and Web browsers, and any system that does not support these technologies does not support its customers. The irony is that this is a lose-lose situation: Not only is it inconvenient for customers to not have access to their insurance documents, but it is inconvenient for the insurers as well. Other mobile technologies, such as apps, have introduced new dangers to large insurance providers. App users can view their policy documents, but with scattered systems, they may only have access to certain pieces of information. The disconnected information may not provide customers with a complete picture.

Records Management as an Afterthought

One of the reasons proper records management support is still lacking in so many ECM implementations is that it is often overlooked in the requirements or is an afterthought at best. For instance, according to Druva, it is common to have more than 100 copies of the same email floating around various users' accounts and backups. Indeed, a few years ago, an ECM vendor studied a large insurance company and found that it had an average of 124 copies of every email with attachments.

When considering the records management aspects of an insurance system up front, businesses should ensure that the data model includes the metadata elements that are needed for automated declaration, migration to lower-cost storage tiers and disposition. With the advent of LTO-6 tape and LTFS, it is easier than ever to migrate records from transaction systems to near-line and offline storage while still having all records readily available.

Now Is the Time to Act

Significant changes are occurring in the insurance market, its customers and the technology that is available to manage insurance workflows. Harvard Business Review recently opined that insurance companies are not fully tapping into the "digital opportunity" represented by mobile computing, social media and data analytics. Some of these opportunities are in marketing and targeting, while others are right in the strike zone of traditional ECM-enabled insurance processes: underwriting, claims and customer service.

The technology tools for building better insurance workflows are also in a state of transition. The Content Management Interoperability Standard (CMIS) has been adopted by every ECM/BPM vendor and other information technology segments. CMIS provides the building blocks to better integrate and coordinate among disparate ECM silos as well as incorporate social data. New case management tools can supplement BPM for more complex and ad hoc insurance workflows.

Insurance companies can partner with a trusted vendor to reach across an array of skills and solutions to unify siloed insurance workflows, digitize paper-based processes and adjust records management programs for new technologies, regardless of the technology platforms planned and in place.

Do you have questions about financial services solutions? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Data Management team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.


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