Case Studies

Great People + Manual Process + Questionable Technology = Poor Results

Aligning People, Process, and Technology

Todd Herman

We see this story play out consistently in our client projects — solid People have to manually Process key items because their company's Technology is outdated, poorly integrated, or incorrectly implemented. If you apply our mantra — Business Results come from a strong alignment of People, Process, and Technology — you can easily guess our client's initial situation:

  • Management lacked confidence in data, and never fully trusted it in making business decisions. A string of business system conversions had frustrated users and yielded occasional inexplicable processing results.

  • Accountants spent a significant part of a month looking backwards, to close the books related to premiums and claims, and then to handle other required statutory and management accounting.

  • Auditors could never test the records as fully and completely as desired, and had issued management letters for several years recommending technology changes to improve matters.

Staying True to the Vision

ROI Venn Diagram blue web version

Indeed, as we got started on this project, our findings only made everyone feel worse — as we dug further and further into the integration work, we better understood the "black box" routines of their business system and exposed many problems never before uncovered. While our client appreciated what we were doing, they sometimes cringed when we brought new issues to light.

Fortunately, our client had the courage to stay true to their vision, and to work with us and their system vendor to see things through. Their new and improved situation is:

  • Management now has strong confidence in data, and can rely on it to make informed decisions. Additionally, management rests easy, knowing we built in data scrubbing routines to check items written by the business system, allowing quick detection and resolution of any issues.

  • Accountants now have automated premiums and claims data in under 2 hours at monthend, and can then move on to other accounting matters. With several business days freed up — each month — for value-added work, their focus has changed from low-value-added bookkeeping to high-value-added management analysis to plan and implement business improvements.

  • Auditors now have all their data requests satisfied, and can finally report a solid improvement in their annual management letter.

Our client's current formula? "Great People + Automated Process + Solid Technology = Much Improved Results."

These improved results are helping our client better manage and ride out a tough business environment. Do you have a similar situation? If so, we can likely help deliver results like these for you.

Todd L. Herman

Todd L. Herman

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Case Study: Improving Data Integrity and Management Analysis by Integrating Systems

Situation...

This insurance company had an industry-specific business system, and a separate accounting system. Management was concerned because their business system lacked detail to audit its results, and a thorough review of the underlying processing had not been done.

Problem...

Initially, the problem seemed to be a lack of integration between the business and accounting systems. While performing the business and systems analysis phases of the project, however, we conclusively determined the business system was producing inconsistent results — and this determination validated management's concerns about the reliability of the business system. The lack of integration and amount of intervention raised internal control concerns with the auditors, which they voiced in their management letter.

Solution...

We worked with this system's vendor to enable them to write basic business events as transaction records to an "activity journal" in a format we specified. We then used the records in the activity journal — reflecting events such as "Policy Issued" and "Policy Adjusted" — in two ways:

  • As measures of processing accuracy of the main business system.
  • As inputs to the transaction-driven integration system we developed.

In the first instance, we developed routines to scrub the data for unusual values, and then worked with the system vendor to:

  • Identify and have them correct processing issues flagged by our data-scrubbing routines.
  • Re-process any incorrect transactions.

In the second instance, we worked with client personnel to understand the accounting transactions — and associated level of detail — to support both financial accounting and statutory reporting requirements. We then developed the setup tables, processing routines, output tables, and integration steps to automatically prepare all required accounting entries for the premiums processing and claims processing cycles.

march activity journal

The system evaluates each record in the activity journal and then processes one or more modules to prepare accounting transactions, based on the underlying transaction type. An individual transaction can generate up to 300 accounting records.

Activity by Line of Business

Managers can run activity reports by line of business on demand, selecting date ranges, agents, and subagents of interest.

Loss Ratio Report

Managers can analyze their loss ratio — a key to successfully managing an insurance company — for the current period, current year-to-date, and trailing 12 months.

Results & Benefits...

Management now has much greater confidence in how its business system handles transactions, and has greatly improved analysis capabilities to knowledgeably manage their complex business. Our solution not only produces fully supportable detail for every business event — it also provides intelligently designed reports and analyses to summarize detail and quickly present relevant information on trends and anomalies.

Furthermore, this project laid the groundwork for integrating future business systems where, once modified, the resulting activity journal transactions will be processed under the same business rules and routines already in place.

Conclusion...

Executives, managers, and accountants can now confidently and intelligently plan, run, manage, and evaluate their operations against their overall business strategy, while satisfying the information needs of various stakeholders.

For More Information...

To discuss how technology usage and business process improvements could be applied to the issues facing your business, call us at 336.297.4200 to schedule a no-obligation consultation, or click here to contact us online.

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Interested in reading past case studies? Visit the Case Study Archive.

Todd Herman Associates

336.297.4200

620 Green Valley Road
Suite 104
Greensboro, NC 27408
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About Todd Herman Associates

Todd Herman Associates is a business technology consulting firm focused on non-routine technology issues such as replacing QuickBooks, getting two systems to "talk" to each other, shrinking process cycle time, and taming large volumes of data.