By R. Christopher Haines, President and CEO

You could classify our organization as an IT vendor. Though we provide services relating to IT, we’re usually positioned between companies and their IT vendors. So we see it all: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I’m usually pretty tough on IT vendors, especially software providers. They do some stupid things and spend a lot of time shooting themselves in the foot. But almost all of them can deliver quality products under the right circumstances.

We work primarily in the insurance space, helping carriers and MGAs test and implement new software or changes to existing software. We get a pretty comprehensive view of both sides of the company/vendor relationship. And while I’d love to say all the issues of failed or struggling implementations are the vendor’s fault, they aren’t.

We’ve all heard the stories of the companies on their third or fourth systems in the last 15 years. They trash the vendors they’ve worked with to anyone who will listen, never taking a minute to shoulder any of the blame for past failures. Really? Your luck is so bad you picked the worst software companies every time? Probably not very likely.

Unfortunately, many insurance companies don’t understand technology. There’s nothing wrong with it. They’re insurance companies, not IT shops. But it’s true. They understand insurance very well. They know their products, their processes, and their customers. Many times they just have trouble communicating everything they know, and everything they want, during implementation and configuration of a system. Sometime it’s the old you don’t know what you don’t know. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s nothing to feel ashamed about. It happens.

So what’s the solution? An intermediary. I’m not talking about one to help you decide which system to buy. That’s a subject for another post. I’m talking about a partner to help you know what you don’t know after you find the right system. A group that’s been through it before. A group that works for you, not the software vendor.

This organization needs to work as an extension of you and your staff, with the authority of a partner, not a hand hired to take orders. But every cut corner has a price.

It’s your choice. Be happy with your system vendor and your investment, or spend the next few years feeling like you’re pushing a square peg through a round hole.