Archive for May, 2011

Life Insurance Software Is Just Plain Complicated

Monday, May 9th, 2011

But you need to know the difference between necessary and unnecessary complexity

Life insurance software is complicated. The uninitiated or inexperienced might look at the way the life industry implements core systems and say “You’re making this overly complicated.” There is some truth to that usually, but the fundamental issue is that over complication is a “given” for the life and annuity industry.

So, we have an industry with complicated business models. We have systems and processes that have grown over time to support all kinds of exceptions and quirky products. Sometimes things are documented, sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes exceptions and products are handled “by the book” and sometimes they aren’t.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to distinguish between:

  • Necessary Complexity – to comply with regulations or to support a legacy policy as part of a conversion. This is a big part of the complexity.
  • System-Imposed Complexity – some process was implemented because of a system constraint, but now it’s treated like a “must have” way of doing business. (This is usually unnecessary complexity.)
  • Other Unnecessary Complexity – processes that have evolved and mushroomed unchecked over time; easy system enhancements that were never implemented; “leaky” manual processes that are error prone or overly laborious; etc.

Because of this, you need to find people who:

  • Know the industry inside and out, so they know necessary complexity when they see it
  • Are objective enough to challenge conventional wisdom and identify unnecessary complexity
  • Are wise enough and knowledgeable enough to quickly and continually make these decisions

Basically, you need deeply experienced people who can think outside the box. And they’ll need to be in key positions for both the vendor and the client. What would I consider “deeply experienced”? A minimum of 15 years…

  • Implementing core systems…
  • Successfully…
  • For multiple insurance companies

There aren’t a lot of them us out there, but if you don’t have them on your project it will probably fail. You can take that to the bank (and you might be spending a lot of time there).