Wednesday, March 07, 2007

An MI Strategy for ….?

I was doing some research today and decided I needed to reference some work I did TEN years ago.
This is not such a big deal, I keep everything. Absolutely everything.

All my emails, texts, databases, spreadsheets, code – the lot. With storage technology so cheap this is not such a difficult thing to do.

The only hurdle is to remember old passwords. I don’t have a password repository (keep meaning to get one though) so sometimes have to resort to OfficeKey – It tells me what the passwords are on my Office files.

Whilst looking I came across an article which amused me, it’s not funny, it’s just that it’s still relevant today, 10 years later.

Her are some extracts
“This document lays out some ideas on how to manage the gathering and assimilation of the necessary information to help run the Claims function of XYZ.

There are three main areas to consider for capturing information

  • Claims,
  • Telephones and
  • People/Costs.

For each I have laid out some ideas on principles and methods that could be adopted.

The second part of the document looks at who and specifically what is needed for effective Information Management(IM).”

So, XYZ had some Information needs, and I’ll bet they still do!!


Efforts should be made to get the <> data onto an OPEN platform in a full Data Warehouse.
I would recommend SQL Server, Oracle, DB2 or similar package.

Specific application development should be limited to 'must have for operational effectiveness’ systems.

If the data is on an open platform then user friendly packages such as Crystal reports, Access and Ms Query can extract quickly and cheaply the information required. The added benefit of this method is that there is a transfer of skills from IT to the Claims department.

Whilst the IT department is the guardian of the data they should not be the owners. Keeping the data on the mainframe and developing small but expensive solutions to use the data only serves the IT department not the users."

IT not the owners of data, heresy!

"Telephone Activity

All Aspect related data is already kept in a data warehouse on an Open platform. The data is available to view and download using Crystal Reports.
Relevant extracts should be taken from the warehouse and put into a Claims Information System.

Only one system should be used for reporting Claims Telephone activity to all users within the department, and outside of it. All reporting activity undertaken by Team leaders and others within the Claims dept. should stop and be given to one person/team.

Now why did I say this bit? All users should stop creating reports – Sounds mad but actually when you see HOW they are doing it, then they should stop – everyone was downloading some data into Access or Excel and creating their own reports. No-one managed with the same set of consistent KPI’s.

People/Cost Management

There is now more focus on individual, team, section and department performance. To aid this process Claims are currently using Workware. Having searched the market on several occasions I have not found a better product than Workware for planning and monitoring workloads. The alternative would be to use spreadsheets which I have seen in action but they become unstable and difficult to manage very quickly. I understand that Workware is in constant development and therefore I would recommend that the software is used after the initial period.

The normal Absent, sickness and holiday planning and monitoring should be integrated with roster production and performance tracking. This integration can be developed further by including training plans/actual courses, skills matrices and PPP production. The main aim must be to reduce the re-keying of staff lists and the elimination ‘re-inventing of the wheel’

With the advent of section managers taking responsibility for the cost centres representing their span of control it is more important than ever that cost information is captured, verified and analysed.

There are two main sources to aid cost centre management;
Finance reports
Personnel Databases

Each month the cost centre reports need to be checked for their accuracy, i.e. people salaries in the right cost centre.

All costs should be tracked over time and used in ratio analysis, such as cost per Claim Closed.

All costs that are incurred in a month should be shown in the cost centre reports. It has been common practice for the temp staff costs and other invoices to be shown in the accounts 2-3 months after they were incurred. This gives a false picture as to what is going on and can lead to poor decisions being made with regards to expenditure.

The budgeting process within claims should not be a huge exercise, which is separate from normal business planning. Re-forecasting the next 12-16 months should be a regular exercise, perhaps linked to the overall plans within Workware.

An understanding of settlement cost behavior must be developed in order to determine where resources are best deployed. This is best achieved by tapping into the skills of the actuarial department.

For all new projects and tactical/strategic decision making there should be an understanding of the impact from a cost point of view. Models must be developed to add weight to the decision or prevent mistakes."

WOW, Is Workware really that good. Can you run a large number of teams using it? I thought so at the time, and I still think so.

Now this is the good bit….

"Information Management

As a general rule all information should be available to all (with a few exceptions)
Ideally all information users should be identified before solving their needs for them!
Data should only be captured and information created if it aids decision making, such that the decision is influenced by having the data. For example keeping sickness records allows for changes to pay if the threshold is reached.

A small team 2/3 FTE should be created within claims. These people can be the local 'IT' experts but with a good knowledge of claims Dept. processes. They can facilitate the routine information needs and provide detailed analysis on Claims activity, individual performance and other ad-hoc. They can also be used to help improve the PC skills across the department, but should not be used as a 'Help desk'.

Any data capture and report production currently undertaken elsewhere within the Claims dept. should be brought within the control of the MI team. This includes all reports supplied by Secretaries, Team Leaders, Section managers and support areas.

The MI team should also be capable of supporting the use of Workware (or whatever system is used for work management)

The MI team should make full use of the latest available technology and not be held back by XYZ Co. mass standard PC policies, i.e. Use Crystal Reports and Intranet technology and NOT the current standard Office95.

To capture, analyse and report data a Claims Information System(CIS) should be developed using Ms Office technology. This is not an all singing-all dancing solution to all information needs but an integrated set of databases and spreadsheets that minimise the effort required and reduce errors in keying. The creation and maintenance of the system should be the sole responsibility of the members of the MI team.

To deliver information to end users the ideal solution is by the use of an intranet. This is a cost effective method of getting data to the desktop of the users. This can be introduced quickly and cheaply and used for all department information and not just for activity reports e.g. Working Practices can be kept online and updated easily. This solution is available now to all those with a PC.

The profile of information in general needs to be raised across the whole dept. For example; use can be made of notice boards to show graphs of output, service and quality. The whole dept should know what the MI team are producing and what data they hold so that tasks are not duplicated.

The Claims management should fully support the work of the MI team, especially in the data capture and processes they introduce. The MI team should be able to supply information directly to the Claims manager, or any manager without fear, i.e. do not shoot the messenger if the results are not favorable.


To enable a better decision making process more information is required by all members of the Claims department. This can be enabled in a cost-effective manner by Claims staff using their own skill and knowledge. The specialists’ within the IT department or elsewhere should not dictate when and how the Claims staff get the information they require, and expensive development work is not always the answer (Just think about what has been delivered to date!). A small team with skills in communication, claims and IT within the claims dept can deliver when and how YOU want them to.

Powerful stuff. Information available to all, using Web technology. I wish I had seen Siebel Analytics back then (when did NQuire start up?)

Obviously the tools are now there to reduce the need for Office applications (Access Db’s for reporting), specifically Oracle BI (ex Siebel Analytics), Essbase, Microstrategy and dozens of others.

I wonder if XYZ Co ever put a reporting system in?

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