The Case for Change

I never thought it would be so hard to choose a topic for my first post in this blog (kudos to the Guidewire folks for promoting this, by the way – I truly hope more customers jump in!). Since day-to-day responsibilities allow little time for a reflective pause, I was tempted at first to write about our general implementation program status. But apart from probably meaning little to most readers outside Pacifico Seguros, I wanted to take the opportunity to review the meaning of this 3-year Transformation Program, eight months since we have started.

Before we embarked on this initiative, we already knew this was going to be more than a packaged-software implementation. Our cross-functional team (made up of business and IT leaders), based on past experience and the learnings and insights discovered during our evaluation and selection processes, came to the early realization that Pacifico would not only be replacing its core legacy systems, but would also need to transform its core processes along the way. This is why we refer to the implementation as a Transformation Program, which drives a deeper message throughout the organization and has helped garner engagement, involvement and sponsorship from all stakeholders inside Pacifico. We also say “this is basically a change in the way we live”.

Thankfully, this is where having selected a solution like Guidewire makes the most sense. Sticking to out-of-the-box best practices was a founding principle for our Program (and it still is), and it was obviously extremely appealing for the business to be able to adopt the processes that are used by reference insurance companies around the globe who are customers as well.

All the elements for constructing a robust business case were set. It was now time to start putting the pieces together if we were to obtain approval for this major crusade.

I could probably write a couple of posts exclusively about the complexity of our legacy architecture and its inadequacy in the context of Pacifico’s future strategy. Suffice it to say, however, that it just was not going to cut it. However, we wanted this to be more than just answering a question about basic survival, as it could lead to questions about the possibility of doing this with alternatively adequate or perhaps more frugal solutions.

Based on the key pillars of our strategic framework, along with the help of Guidewire’s Value Consulting team, we began construction of a detailed business case that went down to the granularity of operational key performance indicators (KPIs), vertically aggregating to tactical and strategic metrics that made sense to executive management. Starting from baseline measures, we modeled several scenarios of improvement in these KPIs that we assumed would be facilitated by the process changes driven by our Transformation Program. We set out to make the relationship between these explicit, and identified high-level initiatives that would have to take place to really execute the transformation and achieve the benefits we projected. These are now owned by the business, and are being developed in detail as part of their strategic plans.

I am convinced that the value of this exercise is more than estimating an exact or approximate value to any benefit that we can and I am sure we will obtain. The debate between the business and IT; the questioning of legacy processes and not just applications; the intentional drawing of the link between the new process; all of these form a strategic planning exercise by themselves. Currently, the business case is a major guide in the development of functional requirements and evaluation of change requests, as well as the key driver of the adoption of out-of-the-box best practices.

When the team stood in front of the board and executive management to present its findings and recommendations, the message was clear. This Transformation Program is more than mere survival; it is all about taking the competitive advantage Pacifico already has to the next level. Eight months afterwards, we are well underway and excited about the launch of our first release this year, and looking forward to what lies ahead.