It doesn’t matter if you’re an established insurance broker thinking about changing your broking system or a new start-up wondering what your best option is; the software you put in place will have fundamental impacts across the whole of the business.
Choosing your system is often described as a ten year decision. With so much riding on the outcomes, we take a look at some of the key points you need to consider before setting wheels into motion.
All the mod cons
Before you even start looking into the fine details, your business model is going to have a big impact on which system best meets your objectives. Are you focusing on commercial or personal lines? Do you want to build your brand on a traditional face-to-face service or do you want a more digitised customer experience? You need to think carefully about your longer term business strategy before you choose the system that will carry you forward.
Most system providers will also offer a range of additional extras. These need close examination, not just to ensure you include features that will be business-critical, but also to try and avoid hidden costs or investing in features you don’t need. For instance, there are a lot of automation tools available which are essential for insurance brokerages over a certain size, but that won’t be cost-effective for smaller organisations and can be added at a later date.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
One of the common things that is underestimated when changing systems is quite how long the process can take. For established brokers, it’s easy to overlook the fact that your staff will be going through considerable change and a big part of keeping them on-side will be communicating with them from the early stages. They will also need to be trained in new skills and processes, which will not only take time but also take staff hours out of day-to-day business. Realistically, you are likely to have a disrupted 12 months with the benefits really starting to show as you go into the second year, so it is vital that you prepare for this.
For new start-up insurance brokers, whilst you won’t necessarily have the challenges of changing from an existing system, simply setting it up to begin with will take time and energy. In addition to you needing to get your TOBA in place and FCA authorisation, the whole process of going live onto a new system will take a minimum of 12 – 16 weeks. There are steps you can take to ease this process and speed it up, for example at Broker Network we help Members by providing pre-configured systems, compliant letter suites and discounted pricing with the software houses. However, your business model will always need to accommodate the realistic time needed to set up your systems and we recommend seeking advice from someone already familiar with the process.
Preparing for the future
No, you don’t have a crystal ball, and yes, your business will always be impacted by things that can’t be anticipated. However, a robust business model and vision of the organisation’s future will play a big part in choosing the right system for your longer term business needs.
For instance what are your MI requirements? You might have your own reporting system in place or external support like our MI dashboards, but if not, you will need to check with the software house what reporting they offer. It’s important to ascertain whether they charge for the service and whether it is compatible with other tools you use; manually compiling reports is not scalable and the increasing time required to maintain data can weigh heavy on a business.
It’s not just internal elements you need to consider; forecast for the wider industry too to make sure you are as prepared for change as you can be. For instance GDPR has been stealing the headlines recently, and this has huge implications on your office systems like how you store data securely and how you use it to cross-sell. At the time of writing, many software houses are still investigating the full ramifications of GDPR, so make sure to query this when discussing your options.
Keep your feet on the ground
The final thing you need to bear in mind is that with the greatest will in the world, no system is perfect. Whilst all system providers have their strengths and will be the lifeblood of your business, any broker you speak to will be able to cite some frustrations to accompany the merits of the system they use. The simple fact is that the sheer diversity of brokers and unique requirements means that there it is never going to be a one size fits all solution that is perfect for everyone, so be realistic: look for one that will play to your strengths, and try and get an idea of any potential shortcomings before you make any decisions.
Broker Network’s System Support service offers unbiased assistance across all major software houses. Members, to learn more please view the System Support area of the Hub, or alternatively, get in touch if you have any questions on this article.