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  • Ron Montgomery

The system of record is... a spreadsheet?

Insurance carriers invest a massive amount of time and money in their policy administration systems. Initial system and plans setup, plus installing and testing releases and patches require a dedicated team of I.T. professionals. Despite all this effort, policy administration systems have shortcomings, or gaps, in their processing. The gaps may be well known by the I.T. support team, or they may only be known by the Admin Team that administers the policies and supports the customers. For every gap, the Admin Team may implement one or more manual workarounds and these workarounds often involve a spreadsheet. I have seen workaround spreadsheets to support policy loans, claims, and calculation of policy values. The data in these spreadsheets are not stored in the policy administration system. When the time comes to convert the old policy administration system to a new and improved platform, the conversion team is surprised to find out that some of the real data exists in a spreadsheet on a network drive rather than the database tables they have been mapping for the past 3 months.

So, how to avoid the surprises? First, the conversion team must realize that the system conversion project is not just an I.T. project. The Admin Team are key stakeholders and must be dedicated to the project. Second, a key project deliverable must be process-mapping documents that clearly identify the sources and uses of these workaround spreadsheets. Finally, the conversion project must include plans to convert the data from these spreadsheets to the target system platform.

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