Keys to Success: Predicting Usage in a Vacuum

In this installment of "Keys to Success," I explore the concept of attempting to predict how users will utilize Guidewire InsuranceSuite and recommendations for process design and workflow.

A key concern when working with customer analysts and subject matter experts is they sometimes feel they have to get the application workflow and process design 100% correct in the initial release of the application(s). There is sometimes a tendency to build in every possible feature in that first release. This concern is perpetuated by the rigidity and cost of modifying their current legacy environments and a history of only having one shot at getting it right. Customer analysts and subject matter experts attempt to do this work without having the information on how users are actually using the system, so they are left to predict how they believe the system will be used without any empirical evidence. This work is often very creative and innovative but frequently requires significant upfront investment in time and effort and rarely reflects the ideal reality. Many times insurers have to go back and simplify or change these creative designs as they do not reflect the real world usage of the system by end users. Below are some recommendations that I provide to carriers faced with this situation.

Leverage your investment in Guidewire

Guidewire InsuranceSuite is built exclusively for the P/C insurance market and has instantiated into it the industry's best practices and processes. Leverage the investment you have made in Guidewire by utilizing what is provided to you in the base application as much as possible and resist the temptation to "reinvent the wheel."

Keep it simple and add real value

Inevitably, you will tweak and augment processes or have a desire to build in new features, however perform this in the simplest fashion possible initially and only enhance the packaged solution when there is tangible business value that can be gained as a result. Guidewire Professional Services’ Value Alignment framework can provide insight into maximizing the business benefit, effort, and product alignment (adherence to core application functionality) curve.

Be Agile

A core tenant of the Guidewire Agile Methodology is the Sprint Review which is a demonstration of the functionality developed over a short increment of time. This allows stakeholders a view into the direction the configuration is taking and provides an invaluable feedback channel into the work performed. The Sprint Review coupled with a system where end users can "kick the tires" on the process and workflow developed can elicit the feedback necessary to get the process correct in the initial release. Of course all recommendations and feedback should be evaluated on that benefit\effort\product alignment continuum to determine whether the work suggested warrants inclusion in this release’s scope. 

Monitor Usage

After the application is released into production, continue to monitor processes and procedures. Gain an understanding of how end users are truly using the application and elicit their input for productivity and efficiency gains. Many times the subject matter experts that participated in the project will become your power users in the field. This resource pool can be utilized to solicit ideas from the field and help filter out the meaningful improvements from the bad ideas. This input can be used for scope consideration in future maintenance releases to further drive efficiency and productivity gains in addition to those already provided by the base application. As always, prioritize these ideas by business value and implement the most valuable enhancements first. Just like you did in your initial release, do not “go overboard” on subsequent releases. Keep the releases small and meaningful with a mix of bug fixes and improvements.

Conclusion

As you can tell, the formula is pretty simple.

  1. Leverage the P/C industry best practices instantiated in Guidewire InsuranceSuite.
  2. Design and build for simplicity initially reducing upfront investment in unconfirmed usage patterns.
  3. Elicit feedback through development cycle to help to drive where investment is truly going to result in value.
  4. Continue to monitor usage post go-live to help gain a greater understanding of the day to day usage to help drive further efficiency gains in the future. 

Ultimately, what we want to prevent is heavy investment in configuration in unproven processes and workflow that have to be adapted later. Guidewire applications are built to be highly configurable and designed to allow the applications to adapt to the changes at the carrier or in the industry as a whole. Ultimately, our goal is to allow you to "Deliver Insurance your way” with Guidewire core systems.