Pet Plan slashes training time with LANSA
In-house development gives us total control over our own systems.
Editors Note: Hayhurst Elias Dudek Inc. ("HED") is part of the Western Financial Group ("WES") since 2009 and continues to use LANSA to develop and enhance the IT systems described below.
Hayhurst Elias Dudek Inc. (HED), one of the largest Canadian privately owned insurance brokers, offers specialist advice in a diverse range of commercial, group and personal lines insurance. The group's Visual LANSA-based Life & Health and Pet Plan Insurance systems use LANSA Client for management reporting. The new systems have dramatically reduced staff training time and increased productivity and customer service.
Brian Hynes, assistant vice president business systems, says, "What I like about the LANSA team is that they are not trying to sell me a product or a solution. LANSA tries to work with me as a business decision maker to ensure that the tools meet my requirements. Many vendors don't even listen to your requirements. LANSA identified the immediate business case, but also helped me to manage where I want to be in the future."
LANSA works with me as a business decision maker to ensure the tools meet my requirements.
- A Training Challenge
- Quick Development
- Rapid Training
- Better Reporting
- A 20 Year Investment Maximized
- Company & System Information
A Training Challenge
In the eighties HED purchased the source code to its original RPG-based S/36 insurance system ‘InLib' and maintained it in-house. While the system grew over the years into a highly functional and customized solution for processing insurance transactions, its green-screen interface was inadequate for data input and enquiry and was slowing down HED's customer service staff.
"Updating and retrieving information was complex and very awkward," says Hynes. "We had trouble handling a growing number of enquiries to our call center. Customer service staff would often have to open another AS400 session to retrieve the information or had to stop what they were doing altogether. Customer patience was stretched by long calls."
"The second issue was training. It is much harder to train staff in a green-screen environment than a graphical environment. We have over 30 staff in our combined call centers plus 116 support staff and a fairly high turnover."
"In our old system end users also did not have the ability to run their own queries or reports. For almost every query or report request a developer had to get involved, run the query and send the results to the end-user. And the system did not allow well for revenue analysis by sales channel or campaign."
"We needed a better solution," says Hynes. "We wanted an 'event driven' approach that would allow a flexible line of question and answer with the client over the phone, and let us open multiple occurrences of the same window."
"We wanted a user friendly and productive graphical front-office solution for data entry and enquiry that would integrate with our existing insurance processing back-office system. We do our own underwriting, which makes our procedures quite different from other brokers."
We wanted a user friendly and productive graphical front-office solution for data entry and enquiry.
"We decided to develop the Pet Plan system first. We looked at a couple of different products before we chose LANSA. I found that LANSA was the best tool for us, because it had a very quick learning curve. In about six to eight weeks, my team was productive in LANSA."
"Using Visual LANSA's graphical prototyping approach, our development team was able to get quick feedback and sign-off from the business users," says Hynes. "It makes a very positive difference to be able to involve business users early in the process. Their feedback has been driving the project."
"To create a truly event driven and user friendly application, you must understand the workflow. If you just convert procedural logic without understanding the workflow, you are going to fail."
"We are using LANSA for all data manipulation and data retrieval. LANSA made it easy to integrate the new insurance systems with our existing iSeries-based InLib insurance backend, our billing and financial systems and with our rating tables. And using LANSA's middleware it was also easy to do the bridge from our Windows and Sequel-based web system, to our iSeries insurance systems."
HED is gradually redeveloping its RPG-based insurance systems with Visual LANSA. The Pet Plan solution went live in 2002 and Life & Health Insurance in 2003. Currently Property and Casual is being developed in LANSA.
"LANSA allowed us to gradually redevelop our RPG-based systems and implement new systems that integrate Visual LANSA modules with our old RPG system. We implemented the Pet Plan project in phases, which illustrates again how easy it is to integrate the Visual LANSA modules with our existing system."
"In-house development gives us total control over our own systems. The Pet Plan and Life & Health Insurance systems are continuously evolving and improved upon. With each modification our systems become better and stronger and easer to maintain."
In-house development gives us total control over our own systems.
Randy Valpy, vice president and general manager Pet Plan, explains the difference the new Visual LANSA-based Pet Plan system makes. "In the old system staff would have to go through 14 screens in a random sequence to process a claim. Now the system allows for a natural flow of communicating with the client. A claim can be processed in a few minutes. Similarly opening up a new policy has become a very efficient and streamlined process."
"The experience is more pleasant for our clients. Phone calls are shorter saving telecommunications and call center resources."
"The biggest gain is training new employees faster. Total training time was three weeks, with at least one week of computer training, but it took months for people to really become familiar with the old system. Now because the flow of screens and prompts is so intuitive, the actual computer training is very easy and takes only three sessions of five hours each, less than a third of the time it used to take."
"We have 20 people in our call center, and like most call centers with evening and weekend shifts, a high turnover of 50 percent annually. Also, the business is growing fast. Every month we train new people. So cutting back the training and getting new staff on the phone sooner to generate revenue, is very beneficial to the company."
The biggest gain is training new employees faster.
Kim Schroeder, manager claims and underwriting, explains, "From a reporting point of view, we now have a far greater capability to pinpoint where our sales are coming from. We have a number of different channels and partners that we market through. LANSA allows us to set-up a flexible marketing system without the assistance of a programmer. Every time we work with a new partner, launch a new program or have new offer, we can assign marketing codes. Those codes can apply discounts, waive enrolment fees and serve as referral tags."
"The system is very adaptable. As a manager, I can create and maintain dropdown lists for pet breeds, partnerships and other codes. And if we have a system change request our programmers can respond very quickly."
"We interact a lot with our clients and having information available in a friendly format makes it easier for us to communicate in a friendly and personable way. This helps to build better relationships with our clients and is important for client retention."
Laura Kemp, manager operations and marketing, and the main driving force behind the new Pet Plan system, says, "With LANSA Client we can write and run reports on demand and extract any information we could possibly want. We don't have to wait for IT to create and run an end-of-month report. This has been a huge benefit because it allows us to react a lot quicker."
"For example, if we have a new rep on the phone who is selling only one specific policy, we now notice the same day and can adjust training. We can also react immediately if we notice an above average number of cancellations, and make win-back calls right away."
"On-demand printing has also helped to improve customer service. Now we print certificate of insurance and claims letters directly from LANSA and mail them immediately to the client. In the old system we had to send a request to the IT department to print certificates and claims letters in the over night batch."
"LANSA Client is a great management tool and it was really easy to learn. You can teach yourself how to create queries and reports. We have eliminated the need to go to our IT Department for reporting requirements," says Kemp.
LANSA Client is a great management tool and it was really easy to learn.
A 20 Year Investment Maximized
"LANSA helps us to create a very professional appearance as a company. And has contributed to winning some of our bigger contracts," concludes Valpy.
"The Canadian Automobile Association, who sell car, house and travel insurance, wanted a partner to go into pet insurance with. It was between our biggest competitor and us. There are a number of reasons they chose us. But I have no doubt that part of it was our new system and our ability to report back in detail on sales through their program."
"We are going to continue to re-develop our front-end systems in LANSA," adds Hynes. "The Pet Plan and Life & Health projects were delivered on schedule, and Property and Casualty will follow soon."
"Our development time has dramatically been reduced, our training time has been reduced, and our efficiency has been greatly increased. We are definitely devoted to using LANSA going forward."
"LANSA allowed us to develop Windows applications using our current data structure and call existing logic to maximize our 20 year investment in business logic," says Hynes.
LANSA let us develop Windows applications using our current data structure and call existing logic to maximize our 20-year investment in business logic.
Company and System Information
- Hayhurst Elias Dudek Inc. (HED) was formed on July 1, 1982 by the merger of Hayhurst Insurance Brokers, Lynch Elias Dudek and Associates Inc. and Harriott & Associates of Canada Ltd. HED has 150 employees across Canada. HED's head office is located in Winnipeg, with offices of local representatives in Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax. In Quebec HED operates under Arcand Hayhurst, Associs Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of HED.
- Pet Plan is a subsidiary of HED that shares IT, HR and Accounting departments, but is otherwise self-sufficient. The Pet Plan name and logo is licensed from a UK based insurance company.
- HED's IT team consists of four developers, two NT Support, one iSeries support and three web developers.
- For more information visit: www.westernfinancialgroup.ca
- Hayhurst Elias Dudek Inc. ("HED") is part of the Western Financial Group ("WES") since 2009 and continues to use LANSA to develop and enhance the IT systems described above.