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SMA's Insurance Transformation, Where Strategy Meets Action

Deb Smallwood

IT Governance: Easier Said Than Done? Why These Problems Still Exist

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In examining different governance models across the industry, it has become so apparent. There is a lack of best practice framework available for governance in insurance. Just recently, when I typed "IT Governance" into Google.com there were 16 million hits. So it is clear that there is a lot of discussion and publication surrounding IT governance. However, what is lacking is a clear and uniform approach to best practices. Literally millions of bits of information are available, but one would be hard pressed to find a common simple forum or approach.

Based on my experience of consulting for the past 10 years, I have seen the gambit of IT governance. From no governance process at all - meaning no formal SDLC, no clear roles and responsibility, and no project management, let alone any linkage from business plans to IT projects decision. And the business is not fully participating in defining requirements to testing. On the flip side, I have seen such complicated governance process that is confining and strangling of any decisions and traction. The paper work is paralyzing, the decision making is stalled and the fluid nature of the process frozen.

There is also another dimension of IT governance in insurance that I find fascinating and quite revealing. Over the past 30 plus years, the IT governance process has evolved to support the selection of core systems - such as policy admin, billing, claims and data warehouses solutions. The business community has experiencing asking, support and implementing these types of solutions for many years. They are clear about what they believe they need, know how to define requirements, can follow a traditional SDLC and carry thru with the traditional governance process. However, the complexity, maturity and advancement in the technology are real and changing.

Today, there are the concepts of SOA, workflow, business process managers with configuration, rules and rating engines along with predictive analytics, business intelligence tools along with the whole explosion of the web, portals and web tools. For effective use of these tools and technologies, full participation of the business in understanding and defining what and how they will be deployed are essential. Today, so often we hear the business saying, oh that is too complex, it is for IT to figure out what and how.

This is an excerpt from a feature article in Tech Decision CIO Insights March Issues 2009, authored by Deb Smallwood, Founder of SMA Inc.

The purpose of the SMA blog is create a dialogue around insurance transformation; launching a different perspective on linkage between strategy, process and technology choices and shifting the mindset from a technology driven approach with SOA & BPM to a business driven service-oriented thinking that creates agile and flexible new insurance business models. Look for a wide gambit of trends, research, case studies, and insights on making transformation a reality.

Deb Smallwood

"I grew up in the insurance industry and have experienced the shackles that ineffective business processes with misaligned monolithic technology solutions have placed on insurance companies...

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Karen Furtado

Karen Furtado brings a wealth of industry knowledge to SMA. She spent 25 years at CGI, focused in insurance. Her specific areas of expertise include product development, complex system implementations, vendor selection processes, project management and business and IT outsourcing services. Her passion is working with both technology providers and carriers to deliver high-value solutions for core issues facing the industry. Karen actively participates as an industry speaker.

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