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Success in implementation: The benefits of partnerships in implementing an underwriting workbench

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Published on:15th June 2023
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Send and Sollers Consulting have been working to together to deliver Send’s underwriting platform to commercial and specialty insurers. Here Jakub Wróblewski, London Market Practice Lead at Sollers, and Sarah Sutton, CMO at Send, discuss the secrets to delivery success. 

Can you give us an introduction to Sollers and your work with insurers?

Jakub: Founded 23 years ago, Sollers is an international operational advisory and software integrator. We work with over 100 clients in the financial sector and have a strong focus on insurance. Currently, around 90% of the business we do is for insurers. Sollers’ clients are in every continent but our main markets are in the UK, particularly the London Market as well as the DACH region (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland) and we are growing in presence in the US, Scandinavia and France.

Our aim when working with clients is to improve their operational efficiency. To do this, we carry out projects such as the implementation of core systems and integrating tools like underwriting workbenches. We also provide additional support to fulfil these projects with services such as data management, migration, automation and vendor selection.

How does Sollers work with Send to implement underwriting workbenches?

Jakub: Our current relationship with Send is focused on insurers and MGAs operating in the London Market. However, as Send’s underwriting workbench is built to support the global commercial and specialty insurance market, in the future we will be extending these services to carriers in other geographies.

How do the London Market’s implementation requirements differ from other insurer clients?

Jakub: The London Market focuses on low-volume, high-value insurance, where a quick payout is not the focus. The nature of what they are insuring means that Sollers has to focus on a more consultative approach with high levels of engagement and communication.

The London Market also loves a three-letter acronym. When you first start working with the London Market you have to take the time to understand the language, the ‘Londonisms’, and what is being said with these terms.

How does Send accommodate for these requirements?

Sarah: The first thing we do is build trust through a strong collaborative relationship. We need to help the insurer with its long-term underwriting transformation, so we sign multi-year contracts with London Market organizations. We deliver a strong product well, ensuring we also provide excellent post-implementation maintenance and support.

Secondly, the nature of the business that comes into the London Market results in complex underwriting. Send’s underwriting workbench is tailored for this. We have deep domain expertise in supporting commercial and specialty insurers. When we approach clients, we come with templates for all major lines of business that are already tailored to their specific needs, and a proven delivery playbook. For example, the underwriter-broker relationship is relationship-based, legacy systems do not reflect this so we build flexible workflows to suit the fluid nature of conversational workflows.

What are the common hurdles Sollers encounters when implementing underwriting workbenches for these customers?

Jakub: Technology adoption across any industry often faces similar hurdles. These tend not to be related to the technology stack but to a lack of strategy and well-defined project goals. For example, a reluctance to adapt to change can make the whole implementation project redundant.

Additionally, as with any project, stakeholders have different expectations regarding the scope or timeline of the project.

Related specifically to underwriting workbenches, the primary issue can be a lack of clarity. The term “underwriting” describes a broad range of activities creating different expectations when they hear the word “underwriting workbench”. Some commercial and specialty insurers are also small-to-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with limited experience of change programs.

How does Sollers resolve these issues?

Jakub: To increase organization buy-in, we work to identify the stakeholders who can communicate the importance of the project to the wider team. Their enthusiasm and understanding can be disseminated to the rest of the organization who become more invested in adoption.

Sollers also focuses on education more broadly within the organization to ensure clarity across all stakeholders around what a workbench is, how it can benefit various business units and how to use it most effectively once it is implemented. Finally, we make the workbench a realistic project using an agile implementation strategy based on staggered implementation to help insurers adjust and become comfortable with frequent releases in the future and their validation.

Why did Send and Sollers choose to partner to support insurers?

Sarah: Send wanted to work with an implementation partner that could expand our reach to a wider group of insurers. Working with Sollers was a good fit for us as the company has a strong reputation in technology implementation projects, especially for insurers. Both companies also have similar values when it comes to project management. We are both keen to break the commonly held idea that the vendor, the system integrator and the customer are three different teams. When you break that traditional model the environment becomes healthier and more successful. Like Sollers, we also believe you have to work in small stages to enact meaningful and impactful change.

What have been the benefits of this partnership to Send and Sollers?

Sarah: What is great about this partnership is that it is mutually beneficial. Send has experienced rapid growth facilitated in part by the reliable and experienced implementers at Sollers.

Jakub: Sollers has benefitted from expanding our range of services. This has helped us shift clients’ perceptions to view us as an organization with a wide range of digital transformation competencies.

How have your customers benefited from this partnership?

Sarah: Customers benefit from working with two organizations that have a successful track record of change. Technology change can be hard if customers are cynical from failed past implementations. Both our teams understand that successful implementation comes from people, strategy and cultural buy-in supported by examples of proven, successful change projects.

Jakub: Customers also benefit from prolonged support in building their own competencies to implement future technological change. We work with customers to ensure they are confident using the technology, as the likelihood is that they will need to manage upgrades and integrations with other systems in the future.

As insurers and MGAs start to adopt more complex technology, how do you see this changing the way workbenches are conceptualized?

Sarah: Insurers and MGAs historically have not invested in underwriting automation but senior management is starting to allocate more of their budgets to invest in underwriting systems to boost profitability. We have begun to see insurers and MGAs scoping out tools which improve the quality, speed and breadth of underwriting, as such they are becoming more familiar with the underwriting workbench as a solution to meet these needs.

As insurers have started to take a more modular, rather than monolithic, approach to their technology stack they also want these workbenches or similar solutions to integrate with their ecosystems. We have to help them achieve this by providing a flexible workbench that can slot into their stack.

How does this affect the way workbenches need to be implemented?

Jakub: As Sarah said, clients’ technology stacks are becoming more complex and modular. Clients can be more selective as they have more options. This has led to large insurers working with small data and technology start-ups on very specific projects. We have to adapt our approach to suit these modular systems, building stable core applications which support add-ons and other processes. We are helping to educate clients on how to integrate different technologies using tools like APIs to facilitate improved data exchange.

If you’d like to connect with Jakub, you can find him on LinkedIn here, and if you’d like to connect with Sarah, you can find her on LinkedIn here.

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