Tedious, time-consuming internal work processes have hampered the insurance industry for far too long. In the face of increasing efficiency demands, it’s time for a change. By making the principle of single data entry the mantra for your workflow procedures, a whole new world of efficiency will reveal itself.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: the insurance industry has massive room for improvement, especially when it comes to strengthen internal work processes. One particularly striking example of this is that most larger brokerage and insurance firms usually operate a large number of different, disconnected systems and struggle with fragmented work processes.
One regrettable side-effect of this is that the same data is entered several times into various systems at different times by different employees. This is extremely inefficient. Data entry operators and employees at brokerage and insurance firms should spend their time on work that produces value, not manually enter the same data again and again into various documents and systems.
With single data entry – in effect, to use no more than one data source to maintain policies, claims and reinsurance – these time-consuming and costly work processes will become things of the past. Here are four reasons why you should consider using single data entry to improve your internal workflow procedures.
Less Manual Data Entry
As I wrote in a previous article, data entry is one of the most time-consuming tasks performed on a daily basis within an insurance or a broker agency.
A traditional broker, for instance, usually works with good-old-fashioned paper, as well as Word and Excel-spreadsheets to set up a new deal with a new or existing customer. Afterwards, he or she forwards the relevant documents and information to a fellow employee who is tasked with manually registering the data into the insurance system.
Although the insurance industry is particularly notorious for outdated work processes, manual data entry is an industry independent problem. According to the documentary “Do You Trust This Computer?”, which paints a bleak picture of the future of AI, 7 million employees in the US are currently tasked with manual data entry. Many of these find themselves in various insurance firms, which spends millions of dollars a year giving humans the repetitive and tedious tasks of entering data into legacy systems.
Instead of entering the data one time at the first touch-point, employees within the same organisation are likely to enter the same numbers and data several times into various documents and software systems – a massive waste of time.
Brokers and insurers should avoid entering the same data into several systems. Instead, use one data source to maintain your customers’ policies, claims and reinsurance, which will both simplify government reporting, management reporting and enhance customer history analytics.
Improved Data Quality
An unfortunate side-effect of punching the same data into various systems throughout the work process is the increased risk of human error and reducing the quality of your data.
For every new person who is tasked with entering the data manually into a system, the chance of the data being corrupted increases. This is the reason why anyone who has outsourced their entire manual data entry process to India or any other country hasn’t improved their work processes in any way. As long as several people are involved in the process of data entry, the risk of human error is still present.
Reduced Lead Time
Single data entry also radically improves the lead time from the deal is completed to the customer receives the paperwork. In a traditional brokerage, the broker in question sends the details of a closed deal to a queue of manual data entry – either in-house or overseas. In any case, it can take up to 1-4 months before the necessary paperwork is issued to the customer.
Rather than waiting for extended periods of time, the customer should get their hands on the necessary documents right away. And this is indeed possible. We in Noria recently worked with a company that reduced the time from the deal is completed to the paperwork is issued from 1-2 months, down to five minutes.
Improved Organisational Knowledge Transfer
Single data entry also ensures a healthy transfer of knowledge across your organisation. If the data is unstructured and not registered in an organization-wide insurance system, it becomes so much more difficult to fish out the necessary insight and information regarding a particular portfolio or customer.
Storing data locally on each broker’s or insurer’s computer increases the risk of losing valuable competence and insight regarding a particular portfolio, for instance when an employee passes away or change job.
Manual data entry will soon sunset within the insurance industry. Competent employees will be tasked with value-added work instead of punching numbers and legacy work processes will be digitised, modernised and updated. The ones who’ll succeed with the transformation are the ones who’ll digitise their processes right. As I briefly touched upon in a previously published article, robotic process automation (RPA) may provide insurers with short term value, but will involve high unforeseen costs in the long run if integrated with complex IT architecture. Successful single data entry implementation requires deep business knowledge and insight on work methods and processes to create a solution able to handle the core organisational business processes. There are no quick fixes or silver bullets; insurers need to dig deep into operational details and build robust solutions encompassing the entire work process.
If you’d like to know how you can improve your internal work processes, I urge you to read on in our e-book “The Insurance Industry 2025” available for download below.