Oh, to be an insurtech company with everything ahead and no old technology to drag you down…

Ready to get free of the friction of legacy systems? Here are aspects to consider:

  • Take it from the top with a top-down approach.  That way, you can see the entire universe and often achieve economies of scale during the legacy execution.  Things like testing, key solution components and solution architecture can be executed across many initiatives to drive a more attractive cost.
  • Spread the team across various geographies to optimize and accelerate program-execution schedules. This requires rigorous control and clear direction, especially for teams in remote locations,
  • Assemble a team knowledgeable in legacy software for data migration because glitches are common during this process.  The small pool of people available with the required expertise tends to keep teams small and they often come from outside the organization. You’ll need to be prepares for cleanliness issues with historical data that are not easily resolved.
  • Consider using data migration programs designed to address specific insurance needs such an archiving for specialty business that has a long tail.  This can save between 60% and 80% of the cost of traditional migration approaches.
  • Decommissioning legacy applications is not simply a matter of pulling the plug. Just as you remove and wipe a computer’s hard drive before discarding or redeploying the computer, you must do a similar “wipe” – though on a much grander scale – when you decommission legacy software. There are privacy issues to protect, regulations to deal with, but also documents in nonportable formats that must be retrieved and changed into PDF and other ubiquitous formats.  It can be important to catalogue an application’s data footprint to retrieve information spread across many systems.  And you may need to recommission legacy systems to meet audit or discovery requirements. Assistance and specific tools are available to help navigate this complex process

And if you can’t shed legacy systems…

All technology traps are not the same simply because all insurers are not the same.  Insurers built their systems at different times and updated according to different needs or whims or resources.  And when it comes time for transformation, some companies will migrate and decommission legacy platforms across the entire enterprise, while others can do only pockets of the organization.

For example, we’ve been involved in successful projects that involved:

  • Retaining legacy systems but adding front-end interface and using tools, accelerators and special assets to gain significant benefits.
  • Sunsetting applications that no longer have business value.
  • Reimplimentation of specific target platforms with assistance from application experts
  • Replatforming to drive reduced cost of ownership.

No matter what situation an insurer is in, there are ways to leave or tame legacy systems.  You just have to find what will work for your organization.

We’re finally free.  Can we stay that way?

Smart people learn from their mistakes, but employing legacy systems were not initially mistakes.  In many cases, they were inherited or they simply became onerous over time.  Still, it stands to reason that an organization that’s invested in removing legacy technology should do its best to avoid a new legacy problem.

A good practice is to modify behavior and instill a new approach to governance-of-change planning throughout the organization. It will involve improving the IT-business dialogue for better focus and alignment to business strategic goals. There are toolkits available to help score and qualify the future business benefits from proposed initiatives, allowing them to be triaged against other initiatives. And once this is done, the organization will need to be rigorous in prioritizing and delivering projects that hold long-term business benefits.

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Neither IT nor business leaders can do this on their own.  To work properly, both the CIO, CTO, other IT executives and key business stakeholders must engage at a high level, forming a new “virtuous circle” in which business representatives become active stakeholders in the enterprise, not just customers.  That way the CIO’s concerns about accumulation of future legacy debt becomes an integral factor in the evaluation of change activities instead of being relegated to the background.  

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