By R. Christopher Haines, President and CEO
In case anyone had any doubts, everything is still the same. I can confirm this after spending last week at IASA in Nashville. For those not aware, IASA is the Insurance Accounting and Software Association’s national conference held in June each year. I’ve been to over 15 IASA conferences and really enjoy them. My favorite part is seeing a large number of people I know and catching up on what is going on in their worlds. And even though there are new offerings and technology, the things I pay attention to the most haven’t changed at all.
So what is that you may ask? System implementations. And they are still overwhelmingly late or failing. I’m not out there polling thousands of people and compiling the results. I’m just talking to people and gauging what I hear. And here is what I can tell you. The policy administration system vendors that I know are saying that 30% to 40% of their new leads are coming from failed implementations. Some never go live. Some go partially live before the companies give up. Then another 30% to 40% of implementations are struggling. Some behind schedule. Some really behind. Like years behind.
In almost every one of these instances of failed or failing implementations, more often than not, outside implementation help was not engaged. There are a few reasons for this.
First, and probably the most basic, the companies just don’t know there are people out there to help them implement their systems. They believe the vendor does their side of the project and their company personnel have to figure out their half.
Next, to engage outside help, you have to concede that you need help. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds. There is a level of pride that your company knows your programs and operation better than anyone on the outside could. And there’s the challenge of trying to find a way to explain the need for help to your staff members, when they feel they can handle it.
But most of all this usually comes down to cost. You’ve just contracted to spend a lot of money on a system, and the last thing you want to do is spend more money to help get it implemented. My question here, time after time, is what is the cost of saving money?
Remember those numbers from above where more than 60% of implementations have failed and are failing? Almost all of those went down the path of not hiring outside implementation help because they felt they didn’t need help or didn’t want to spend the money.
I really hate seeing bad things happen to good people. So if you have just contracted for a new system or are currently not making the progress you want on an existing implementation, consider using some outside help.