In my previous blog, I explained various factors Information Technology (IT) teams should consider when implementing solutions for reinsurance operations. I also touched on the fact that IT and reinsurance operations should go together like peanut butter and jelly. But I realized that this is not always the case. In fact, our 2015 Industry Study on Life Reinsurance Operations & IT uncovered gaps in the relationship between the two departments. So why do these gaps exist and what can you do to improve the relationship between IT and reinsurance operations? Find out below.
Why do gaps in relationships exist between some life reinsurance operations and IT departments?
Our study indicated that some reinsurers felt there was a gap in delivery of service due to IT teams shrinking or being spread too thin. Regardless of how the gap in service was or is being perceived, I think it all comes down to communication. The truth is that the demand for IT resources may not be clearly communicated to their team. This can have negative implications for all.
If reinsurance operations don’t feel they have the support of IT, they might build system work arounds which can lead errors in data. (This alone can turn into its own disaster.) If IT is under the impression that reinsurance operation needs are low, they might reduce dedicated staff. But when a crisis occurs (perhaps due to erroneous data), IT resources might be spread too thin to provide the help necessary.
Finally, if reinsurance operations aren’t fully communicating their needs to IT, then they likely do not have a strategy for data management in place – something I explained the importance of in my previous blog. This strategy is something that IT should be part of.
How to reconcile this gap in delivery of service?
It all comes down to communication. BUT remember, this relationship is a two-way street. Both departments need to be proactive in communicating with each other to make the relationship work AND achieve their goals. Here are 5 ways to make this happen:
1. Understand each other’s perspective
Reinsurance operations should clearly communicate their needs so IT can deliver in an effective, efficient, innovative, and productive manner. IT should clearly communicate their workloads and resources so that operations can manage expectations of deliveries being met.
2. Develop your strategy together
The data strategy I mentioned in my previous blog post should involve BOTH departments. Any systems, technologies, and processes put in place should be vetted by IT. The purpose for putting them in place will be driven by reinsurance operations based on strategies, opportunities and challenges.
3. Be open to innovation
Speaking of strategies, innovation should be a key component of it. Innovation contributes to productivity, allows you to keep up with our changing industry, and have a competitive advantage.
4. Schedule priority meetings
IT and reinsurance operations should be meeting frequently to keep the departments in sync. By scheduling resource planning/IT priorities meetings, you can:
- Stay up-to-date on current, ongoing and future projects
- Determine resources required and availability of them
- Prioritize tasks or adjust priorities as business demands change
- Ensure that decisions made are aligned with your overall data strategy
5. Dedicate key contacts
Each team should have a dedicated key contact to ensure a stable communication bridge between both departments. These contacts should be responsible for building and maintaining a collaborative partner approach to the relationship.
Whether the relationship between IT and reinsurance operations needs a little TLC or is non-existent, these suggestions should help ignite the fire.