'Transformative' platform helps award-winning insurer grow and prosper
Rapid growth, regulatory demands and calls for improved governance led this market leader to implement an entirely new approach in management information and IT infrastructure.
Providing specialist insurance products, this well-capitalised private company is a market leader in its area. Rapid growth, however, came at a cost: the business saw the need to implement a new technology infrastructure to handle increasing volumes of data and enable high-performance analytics, so delivering new levels of management information. Ensuring compliance with the European Union's Solvency II directive was the catalyst for change.
Prior to this, the company had no history with SAS, and instead used a range of piecemeal and standalone tools including Microsoft and specialist risk engines for actuarial purposes, rather than working with a strategic vendor able to provide both a platform and wraparound professional services. "The company decided to invest in our software for Solvency II, but it soon became clear its requirements were far more wide-ranging, leading to a 'transformative' project covering its entire IT infrastructure," says Joanne Baffoe, Consultant Project Manager. This involved the business moving from the mass of spreadsheets and manual approaches to a more rigorous, controlled, auditable and scalable approach. SAS was the first technology vendor to present such a forward-thinking view, moving beyond Solvency II requirements alone to propose a complete framework: a single platform able to provide the management insights required, so the company could better manage risk and also reduce costs.
Since that decision, Baffoe says, "SAS Professional Services have provided an extremely wide range of integrated services including solution architecture, data integration, installation, and testing to ongoing support, with programme management gluing it all together. When we started, the company only had a very small in-house team, although it's now developing its own MIS department, so our role was to provide the capability, skills and resources necessary to get things done." Her role included managing a blended team of 30 people.
"A core requirement was delivering that classic 'single version of the truth' based on all the data the company needed," says Andy Lawson, SAS Client Services Manager. "This meant creating a central platform against which all management information and business intelligence would subsequently run. They knew this wouldn't be an off-the-shelf, plug-and-play deal, and they would have to utilise our expertise to achieve what they wanted while they developed an in-house capability." From the outset, external data management expertise was crucial to handle data quality and data integration issues as effectively as possible.
"Using SAS Detail Data Store for Insurance technology, a vital early step was bringing in data from all the sources required, including underwriting systems, using our data quality expertise," explains Shane Flynn, Senior Implementation Manager, SAS. "In effect, it was bringing the company's entire portfolio into the platform for analytics, and to support activities such as forecasting and scenario planning. This was a far bigger job than they'd originally anticipated." Work included deploying SAS® Risk Management for Insurance solution for Solvency II model calculations and external reporting. Legacy processes were superseded by the new approach, while SAS® Enterprise Business Intelligence capabilities were also implemented.
Given the scale of the solution, Joanne Baffoe says the client company was "heavily dependent on SAS. We had the breadth of capability to provide whatever they needed, and to access different resources as required. Our professional services team gained a huge amount of institutional knowledge, and for periods of time our consultants were effectively running operations from a technical perspective. The customer does have a fledgling operational capability now, but we're still heavily involved." Shane Flynn adds, "We've had a significant impact on how they work. For example, there was little in terms of change control and change management previously, until we introduced proper controls and processes. They adopted our approaches and have since hired a Change Manager. So throughout, we played a far bigger role than simply delivering a technical solution. We were involved at so many levels, and are seen by this customer as a company that can deliver – and as individuals that can deliver."
The final word goes to Joanne Baffoe: "We'll continue supporting this client until they can 'fly' themselves. We do take on a number of large professional services engagements like this each year, so it's not a unique situation in that sense. What makes this special is this is a relatively new company and it's very open to new ways of doing things: it's not a legacy organisation, with legacy systems and processes to deal with. It's almost a greenfield site and an opportunity to get it right, right from the start: to work together to create new processes, and be as creative as we need to be to deliver what the client wants."
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Expert resources needed to plan and deploy a new company-wide infrastructure to support rapid business growth and meet demanding management information requirements – plus specific defined needs (e.g. Solvency II)
SAS Professional Services including Phase Zero, technical/solution architecture, SAS Data Integration, implementation, testing, programme management, adoption services, education, and ongoing SAS Premium Support
Successful delivery of a strategic, scalable and future-proofed new platform, enabling greater risk controls through enhanced analytics/management information, allied with lower costs; external skills, expertise and resources enabled the customer to design and deploy the optimum solution whilst developing its own in-house capability
“"What makes this special is this is a relatively new company and it's very open to new ways of doing things: it's not a legacy organisation, with legacy systems and processes to deal with. It's almost a greenfield site and an opportunity to get it right, right from the start: to work together to create new processes, and be as creative as we need to be to deliver what the client wants"”
Consultant Project Manager