AccuQuote reduces costs with BPA, unified comms

Life insurance giant AccuQuote has recorded an increase in productivity and a decrease in material costs thanks to an organisation wide move to unified communications and business process automation (BPA).

Director of IT at the US-based company, Geoff Calhoun, spoke exclusively to CIO about the deployment and how this process grew out of a desire to look for a new PABX.

“Five or six years ago we were looking for a new PABX and we weren’t actually looking into unified communications. In all the work that we did, we slowly added features like ‘click to call’ on our website,” Calhoun said.

Calhoun said while unified communications is now used throughout the entire organisation and encompasses a chat function on both the internal and external company sites, there were some challenges associated with the project.

“Some of the biggest challenges with BPA was that no-one really knew the process. We began by automating the life insurance application process for our clients. Then we would go through a stringent process of management control and the hardest part was getting everyone into a room and agreeing and even admitting to what the process was,” he said.

Calhoun said a mismatch in expectations between management and day-to-day staff members was an issue associated with the project.

“A lot of the time we’d have the managers coming in and documenting what the process was and have the people who use the process on a day-to-day basis come in and say ‘no that’s not how we do it at all’. So there was a disconnect between managers and the actual end workers.”

Calhoun said if CIOs are looking to make the same move to unified communications and automation they should ensure the project initiative comes from the top of the organisation.

“The first piece of advice I would give is that the direction of the project comes from the top of the organisation. What I find is that there’s a lot of resistance to change in this manner and when you make something more efficient, everyone feels as though they are going to lose their job. Sometimes part of the process is eliminating positions, but everyone was afraid theirs would be eliminated as a result. So the change really needs to come from the top,” he said.

Calhoun said the project outcomes were generally successful with productivity increasing overall.

“In terms of the ROI we’ve seen a 33 per cent increase in productivity of the people actually processing the applications. Each employee had a quota of 45 per day, about a month after we deployed, this increased to 61 as their quota and they’ve gone up since then with some staff achieving 75 per day.”

“Productivity has increased and trading time dropped dramatically. 50 per cent decrease and a 40 per cent decrease in material costs. And our sales people aren’t at their desks as much anymore which means they can be out there selling,” he said.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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