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6 Best Practices for Implementing a Producer Lifecycle Management Software

By Steven Lazar, Product Manager, VUE Software

Steven Lazar, Product Manager, VUE Software

You face a challenge. You picked, or are in the process of picking, a software vendor to help automate and manage your Producer Lifecycle Management. However, now you must deal with the complexity of the insurance world; every state has its own rules and requirements, federal regulations are constantly changing, government agencies are set up to audit your organization, and you have a complex compensation structure to manage.

Don’t let the challenges of implementation stop you from moving forward with the project. You can maximize your purchase and minimize the effort for management and staff with planning and support. Keep in mind that most process automations require more work and effort in the beginning and yield more efficient processes after being implemented. Here are six best practices for implementing Producer Lifecycle Management Software that can help:

1. DOCUMENT YOUR CURRENT PROCESS

It is important to do some preliminary work before you start working with the vendor to implement the software. Software implementations have a higher chance of success when you start with the clearly defined process outlined in your organization’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s). This is especially important when dealing with processes that have a small margin of error such as compliance and compensation. Your SOPs should include what your employees should be doing outside your systems as well as what they should be doing in your systems. Including process-flow diagrams will help paint a picture for people who are more visual.

"Don’t let the challenges of implementation stop you from moving forward with the project"

2. CREATE A VISION FOR THE FUTURE

When creating your SOPs, keep track of all the items you would like to add or improve in your current workflow. Think about all the possible processes, integrations, as well as new channels or market segments that you might be adding. It’s important to dream big while still staying grounded in reality. Now that you have your current state and your future plans, you can partner with your software vendor to help you manage your processes.

3. PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR YOUR STAFF

For any project to be successful, there needs to be a commitment from leadership and buy-in from the staff. Many implementations extend longer than anticipated because the staff that are expected to do their day-to-day work as well as give requirements, train, and test for the project. That is a lot to expect from staff. Support staff buy-in and project implementation by having a dedicated (or shared) project manager. Hire a temp (or temps) to help shoulder some of the work for your permanent staff.

4. COMMIT TO PROPER TRAINING AND TESTING

Plan for your staff to do a significant amount of training and testing on the software in a User Acceptance Testing (UAT) environment before your projected Go Live date. If your staff does not have sufficient training, it will be difficult to properly test the software. Without providing the time and resources for testing, the Go Live date will be pushed into the future or you will discover issues while in your production environment. Both outcomes will end up costing your organization time and money. Performing comprehensive testing on scenarios and workflows will help to ensure a relatively seamless transition onto the new platform.

5. RELEASE IN PHASES

You may be tempted to pack in everything into one all-inclusive software rollout. You might think that rolling out everything at once—the rip-off the Band-Aid approach—will be easier for the team. However, it will actually be more difficult for the team to learn a new process and retain all the training without breaking the training into sections. In addition, there is a greater chance for items to be missed during testing and issues to arise in all areas of the implementation. This will cause frustration for the staff when the live implementation does not go smoothly, and it takes time to find and fix all the issues. By breaking the project into phases, the organization gets value out of the software sooner. The staff will also be able to adapt slowly to changes in their day-to-day work. Here is a sample of how to break the rollout into phases:

Phase 1:

•   Producer Management with manual Onboarding
•   Add new Producer
•   Enter demographic and contract information
•   Verify supporting documents certificates, background, etc.
•   Pull licenses and make appointment
•   Final check and Activate (sending out welcome packets)
•   Adding new and terminating Appointments
•   Adding and terminating Contracts Certification Tracking
•   Termination Process with letters
•   Hierarchy Management

Phase 2:

•   Automated Onboarding Workflow
•   Integration with Background Check and certificate vendors
•   Step-by-Step Producer Workflow with exception processes
•   Escalation processes
•   Production of contracts, approvals and signatures

Phase 3:

•  Automated (Self Service) Producer Licensing
•  Fingerprint Integration
•  Producer Portal
•  Send Onboarding Invitation (TPA/Agency)
•  Producer View
•  Profile, License and Appointments, Certifications, Announcements and Alerts
•  Producer Requests and Self-Management
•  Appointment, Termination, Address, E&O, Documents

Phase 4:

• Compensation

6. DON’T LET PERFECT BE THE ENEMY OF DONE

With each phase, don’t let perfect be the enemy of done. Categorize issues properly and only hold phase deployments for critical issues. If there is an easily communicated workaround to an issue, it might be best to Go Live with the phase and not wait until every issue is completely resolved. The known issue can always be resolved in a subsequent release, between phases, or as part of another phase.

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