The Power of In­for­ma­tion Get­ting the Most Out of MI

Get­ting The Most Out of MI

Insurance - - CONTENTS - By Jeff Mccracken Sales and Mar­ket­ing Man­ager, Ac­turis

Knowl­edge is power as the say­ing goes. But with power comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity. Jeff McCracken looks at the im­por­tance of ac­cu­rate man­age­ment in­for­ma­tion and how to use it to have your say.

Knowl­edge is power, but what if that knowl­edge is in­cor­rect or mis­used? Jeff McCracken looks at the im­por­tance of ac­cu­rate man­age­ment in­for­ma­tion and how to use it to have your say.

Man­age­ment in­for­ma­tion (MI) is easy to get; all back of­fice sys­tems pro­vide it. It is just a set of data or statis­tics that we can all col­lect to mea­sure per­for­mance and drive change for im­prove­ment. MI can be a key to un­lock­ing the po­ten­tial suc­cess for a busi­ness – pro­vid­ing there is un­der­stand­ing of how to use it. Yet, given the sheer amount of data avail­able, par­tic­u­larly as an in­creas­ing vol­ume of busi­ness is trans­acted elec­tron­i­cally, how many bro­kers re­ally make good use of, or un­der­stand, the data they have at their fin­ger­tips? How can bro­kers en­sure they un­lock the po­ten­tial of their man­age­ment in­for­ma­tion?

The art of the pos­si­ble

The first chal­lenge is to un­der­stand what you do not yet know. What data is avail­able? It is of­ten the case that sys­tem and busi­ness knowl­edge re­side in dif­fer­ent brains; the data is read­ily avail­able to be an­a­lysed, but the peo­ple that would ben­e­fit from it are not aware of it. This is usu­ally be­cause the MI sys­tem can be com­pli­cated to op­er­ate, or be­cause staff have not been trained to use it. Cod­ing or data­base skills are of­ten re­quired to ac­cess the data cor­rectly. What­ever sys­tem you choose, en­sure the method of ac­cess­ing the data is user friendly, menu-based and in­tu­itive – and when in­vest­ing in train­ing do not just fo­cus on the front end. Peo­ple will all too of­ten in­vest in train­ing staff in how to use the front line of a sys­tem, but for­get to in­vest in train­ing on non-di­rectly rev­enue gen­er­at­ing func­tions such as MI. This leads to a gen­eral lack of knowl­edge of the art of the pos­si­ble. It is very im­por­tant that any bro­ker wish­ing to use a MI sys­tem should en­sure they have train­ing be­fore they can use the tool. Data in un­trained hands can be as danger­ous as no data at all.

Qual­ity data in­put

The in­for­ma­tion that comes out of a sys­tem is only as valu­able as the data put in at source. If your team is in­putting data in­cor­rectly, tak­ing short­cuts in pro­cess­ing busi­ness and us­ing data fields in­con­sis­tently, any MI will be sus­pect at best. How many bro­kers train their staff ef­fec­tively and is­sue process guides, also ex­plain­ing the im­por­tance of data in­put ac­cu­racy? Not many I sus­pect.

Qual­ity data in­putting is es­sen­tial for a bro­ker to re­port ac­cu­rately on the suc­cess of mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, run in­dus­try seg­ment client anal­y­sis re­ports or look at the quote con­ver­sion rates by prod­uct line or in­surer, for ex­am­ple. Some­times a bit more work in train­ing staff and a bit more care and at­ten­tion in pro­cess­ing busi­ness can reap huge ben­e­fits in im­prov­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of a bro­ker’s fu­ture trad­ing strat­egy.

Es­cape the shack­les

All too of­ten a sys­tem will drive the MI process. A stan­dard re­port run is pro­duced and man­age­ment works from it the best it can, but this is un­sat­is­fac­tory. The man­age­ment team needs to de­cide on the ex­act de­tail of the MI it re­quires, in what for­mat and at what fre­quency. No two bro­kers are to­tally alike, so make sure your MI process has the flex­i­bil­ity to al­low you to adapt and change stan­dard re­ports and also to cre­ate to­tally bespoke re­ports your­selves. Th­ese re­ports should have the abil­ity to be saved, shared and even sched­uled. This needs to be an in­tu­itive process, as re­ports will need to be re­fined as the bro­ker’s re­quire­ments and the mar­ket changes. A bro­ker can­not be a hostage to its MI, it needs to use its MI to es­cape the shack­les of the cur­rent sta­tus quo and work to­wards a bet­ter fu­ture.

MI but not at the ex­pense of core busi­ness process

How would you feel if you lost a sale or a client as a re­sult of your team spend­ing time in man­u­ally cre­at­ing your re­ports, when they oth­er­wise could be serv­ing your clients? But if your team is spend­ing time in do­ing this, they can­not be sell­ing in­sur­ance and re­tain­ing clients at the same time. Man­ual MI is also er­ror rid­den and tends to be slow due to its na­ture. You end up with Dis­ney-MI. The num­bers look good, but do they ac­cu­rately re­flect the true po­si­tion of your busi­ness? MI needs to be au­to­mated, ac­cu­rate, and timely – and not add ex­tra work for your busi­ness. Use MI to drive per­for­mance im­prove­ments.

MI for MI’s sake? Pretty graphs but no re­sults?

Pre­sum­ing that you have tai­lored your MI so the re­ports are bespoke and pro­vide you with valu­able in­tel­li­gence, then the fi­nal hur­dle is en­sur­ing that in­tel­li­gence is used to put op­er­a­tional im­prove­ments into prac­tice. If the man­age­ment team is not mak­ing ef­fec­tive use of its MI and, as a re­sult, the front line team is spend­ing time in the cre­ation of man­ual re­ports with­out see­ing the ben­e­fits of im­proved op­er­a­tional ef­fec­tive­ness, then the MI is point­less. This feed­back loop is self-de­struc­tive as less care is taken over the pro­duc­tion of re­ports per­ceived to be val­ue­less. The whole cy­cle grinds to a stop as man­age­ment fails to re­act to in­cor­rect data.

In prac­tice

So what does this all mean in the real world? We have worked with the Oval Group for a num­ber of years and seen how it has ap­plied the use of fo­cused MI to drive fur­ther ef­fi­ciency through the busi­ness. Analysing and un­der­stand­ing spe­cific data on e-trade pen­e­tra­tion lev­els, for ex­am­ple, has al­lowed the firm to sig­nif­i­cantly in­crease the us­age of e-trade prod­ucts and con­trol the costs as­so­ci­ated with pro­cess­ing SME busi­ness – one of the key chal­lenges for any bro­ker to con­quer. By pin­point­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties for ef­fi­ciency and us­ing in-depth MI, it has al­lowed Oval to im­prove its pro­cesses and fo­cus its ef­forts where they are most needed. In sum­mary, all par­ties in the MI process, in­clud­ing the cre­ator of the MI and the end-user of it, need to have a good knowl­edge of what is pos­si­ble and what the busi­ness re­quires from its MI. The MI cre­ated needs to be busi­ness rel­e­vant and must be cre­ated as an in­te­grated part of the busi­ness process with­out cre­at­ing an un­nec­es­sary bur­den on the team. All mem­bers of the team need to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of the MI and, as a re­sult of the in­tel­li­gence gath­ered, see busi­ness and process changes put into prac­tice with demon­stra­ble pos­i­tive re­sults. MI needs to re­flect ac­cu­rately what is hap­pen­ing in a busi­ness and be a cat­a­lyst for change where change is re­quired. Used well, it could be the best pound-for-pound in­vest­ment a bro­ker can make in its busi­ness.

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