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

Choose Your Partners Wisely.

Most insurance companies that succeed with insurance technology seem to use third parties to help them get the most out of their insurance systems. System integrators, system implementers, insurance technology consultants, or whatever you would like to call them, they seem to be almost everywhere. And many of them are staffed with high-quality, highly experienced insurance professionals.

The use of such third parties was once reserved for the largest insurers that run systems specifically developed for tier-one companies. But now some of the smallest insurance companies are seeing improved system utilization by contracting with a third party to assist with system implementations.

If you’re considering third-party support for a system implementation, who should you hire? Make sure it’s a provider that lives between your company and your software vendor, that will be an advocate for your organization, and that will help you get your money’s worth out of your system investment. Make sure it’s a provider your organization “clicks” with, a group of people your staff can get along with that has the knowledge to ensure a positive outcome. The number one priority of that third party should be the success of your implementation and your company, not just taking your money or padding its résumé.

Most important, make sure your implementation-services vendor is independent from your software vendor. If you want to ensure your partner has your interests, and only your interests, at heart, make sure that partner is not owned by or under some special agreement with your software vendor. If you dig deeply enough, you might be surprised at who owns whom — or who recommends whom because of reciprocating financial arrangements. And be careful of vendors that help insurance companies choose software vendors, only to have divisions or sister companies that happen to provide services after the sale for the systems selected.

Third parties have proven to be valuable allies in ensuring the successful implementation and testing of software systems. But like everything else, their selection requires diligence to ensure their objectivity and their freedom from proprietary allegiances.

Choose wisely. Your care will be rewarded.