By R. Christopher Haines, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer

You run a company full of top-notch people. They’ve been with you through thick and thin. They might even fight through anything with you. You decide it’s time for a new building to house your organization, a multimillion-dollar facility with all the bells and whistles.

Would you have your top-notch people build it? Run the saws, pour the concrete, wire the electric? Probably not. Your people are dedicated and good at what they do, but they don’t have the right skills to build your new facility.

Is your multi-million-dollar computer system any different? Your IT people are probably great. But does their expertise lie in implementing and supporting a modern insurance policy administration system? Would you consider bringing in a third party with the knowledge and experience to help? Are you afraid your people will think you think less of them? Are you thinking John and Jane have free time, so you can use them and save the money?

Here’s a different perspective: Would you think about using John and Jane if we went back to talking about constructing your new building? Would you stop short of bringing in an architect and a general contractor because your people might think you don’t have faith in them? Would you really think John and Jane have free time so they can hang the drywall? Or maybe, because John and Jane are experienced users of electricity, they can do the wiring? Probably not.

But we’ve seen this situation more times than we can count: Insurance companies buy new systems or add functionality to existing systems and don’t go outside for implementation help. They’re too afraid of what staff members might think about the use of outside help. They think their staff members have capacity (even though they don’t have the right knowledge). Or they think system users (like billing, underwriting, and claims people) will somehow make good system implementers. But these approaches almost always lead to failure. What can you do?

Start by telling your people they’re important to you and that you appreciate what they do. Help them understand that, while that’s truly the case, they just aren’t the right people to implement or support your system. Don’t use penny wisdom and pound foolishness to use the free time of unqualified people as a reason for putting them in no-win situations. And don’t imagine their being experienced users of a system makes them the right people to support it.

Do yourself, your people, and your company a favor. Find the right partner to assist with your system needs. You’ll be surprised at how much value — and good will — that partner can produce.