Actionable or Just Valuable?

I hate the word “actionable.” I know it’s all the rage in business intelligence marketing-speak, but it implies that complex processes and strategies can be reduced to “see this, do that.” We at Guidewire Live chose the motto “From Guessing to Knowing” because truly understanding what’s happening in your business often has value that may not be so simple to describe.

Back in October, a VP of Claims at an insurer with a sizable personal auto line of business contacted us to discuss something on her mind. She had noticed from Guidewire Live and internal reporting that 2011 was her company’s high-water mark for collision subrogation—money paid out to policyholders that is then recovered from other insurers whose own policyholders were at least partially at fault in an accident. For claims filed in 2012, this recovery was significantly lower. A couple months before, she had moved two employees in her department over to the subrogation team in order to reverse the decline. Could we help her understand if the reshuffle was paying off?

We started by using Guidewire Live data to visualize the annual progress of recovery on 2011-2013 claims in greater granularity than our VP could readily find internally. We then provided weekly progress updates—which the VP shared with her subrogation team—to show how 2013 was trending against prior years. This summary chart reveals some intriguing insights:

  • Subrogation in 2012 kept up with the prior year for about five months before falling steadily behind, and recovery for 2013 was even further behind until the staffing change. Improvement continued until the year-end level was just below 2011’s year-end. The VP’s reprioritization appears to have borne fruit.
  • Although the VP had targeted the end of the calendar year to evaluate the success of her initiative to improve subrogation, it actually takes another six months for all the recovery to occur. After we showed her why the subrogation team must maintain its focus well beyond year-end, the VP asked us to continue supplying updates on 2013 claim recovery into the new year.

Fascinating stuff, but what exactly in this data is “actionable”? The staffing decision had already been made, and nothing in my chart tells you how to recover more money. And yet somehow it was important for both management and the team to know what was possible. They were motivated to catch up because they could see the goal and know that they were approaching it. And if you aren’t inclined to take my word for that, you can come with me next week and ask the VP: she has scheduled another meeting to discuss other performance metrics…