Transferring information from one department to another seems like it should be easy, but in reality it’s profoundly challenging.
Whether or not it’s intended, most businesses create and grow their information silos — self-contained structures storing away a wealth of knowledge built up over time. In the world of insurance, information silos are especially prevalent.
Often, these silos exist in the form of people — professionals who pursue excellence in their positions but have quietly accrued such a specialized set of skills and experience, that no one else in the business can step in and do their work if/when the need arises. Other times, those silos exist in the form of business units or business systems that don’t do a very good job sharing their knowledge, expertise, or operational processes with the rest of the business.
While these silos are extremely common, they can also be extremely damaging. They constitute the most prominent obstacle to training new hires, perpetuating the business in the face of retirements, limiting the productivity losses associated with vacation and sick days, and instituting a reliable framework for operational transparency. The result is:
- Avoidable costs and lost productivity carried through business transitions
- A less well-oiled business machine and less upward mobility for employees (across every rung of the ladder)
- The inability to identify and move on from troublesome personnel
- The underutilization of relevant business data
Knowledge transfer should be simple and straightforward. Here’s how to make it so:
The Key: Upgrading Your Brokerage Management System
The most effective solution to these issues is to upgrade or replace legacy systems with a centralized, understandable, recallable, data and business repository. Connected and easy-to-use brokerage management systems ensure operational transparency, preserve knowledge and allow faster accessibility to all team members.
What’s more, such systems can reduce costs of related business process units by as much as 20% (and technology maintenance costs by 15%) through operational efficiencies.
How do intelligent brokerage management systems achieve this?
By delivering the following out-of-the-box advantages:
Connected Front-to-Back Architecture:
The insurance brokerage back office is the operational hub for the business, providing critical business services such as accounting, administration, and document handling. The front office is mostly involved with clients, working on tasks such as maintaining existing relationships, prospecting new clients, as well as managing sales and marketing processes.
Nurturing a connected flow of information and interaction between front and back office is integral to running a successful insurance brokerage. A management platform with connected front-to-back architecture provides a unified view and access to all the information processed by brokers and back office personnel, ensuring accurate data capture and effective knowledge transference between employees, departments, business lines, and systems.
For example, an insurance broker can submit a new commercial liability insurance policy and see the status of policy underwriting online in a broker portal. He or she can easily track progress, commission payments, and premium payments. At the same time, the broker is assured an open line of communication with the policyholder or insurer, and vice versa. As a result, knowledge transfer between the front and back office of the business (as well as between the business and vested outside parties) is fast and seamless.
A broker whose primary role is front office based, can easily pull data from the back office via an intelligent management platform. All back office documentation is universally accessible through the platform and easily searched for with a few keywords. This capability reduces costs, improves the interoperability of the staff, facilitates the perpetuation of the business to younger employees, enables business growth, and empowers professional advancement.
By speeding up the transfer of data to brokers, they are able to act swiftly and process policies at a faster rate. Not only that, but gaining insight to pertinent information from the back office can help brokers discover cross-selling or upselling opportunities they might otherwise be blind to. And, new employees joining the workforce can be brought up to speed much faster than previously possible, because all policy and workflow information is laid out in front of them.
A digital archive is key to universalizing access to operational knowledge throughout your insurance brokerage. It stores all customer and carrier interactions — including emails, forms, service requests, and calls. And with hybrid architecture, this data can be stored either locally or in the cloud.
This single, comprehensive and intelligently actionable business data repository empowers a business-forward and panoptic view of your prospects, policyholders, and channel partners. With such a repository in place, a natural break down of information and system silos will follow, giving your team the opportunity to leverage data in order to make better decisions.
Many brokerages depend on enormous, complex, unruly, and overly configured Excel files to run their businesses. But, Excel-based solutions are of limited functionality and notoriously difficult to scale effectively.
A digital archive solves all the problems a spreadsheet cannot by effectively and efficiently storing data so that it can be easily accessed, organized, analyzed, and conditionally built into operational workflows by broker or administrative staff — all from a single, centralized location ( in real-time). If multiple brokers are working on a single case, they can effortlessly eliminate the all-too-common problems of accidentally duplicated or incomplete paperwork and discoordinated task handoffs.
A cloud-based intelligent management system is yet another dimension that helps streamline the transfer of knowledge within an insurance brokerage. This is because cloud technology allows all personnel in the brokerage access to the centralized data archive — anywhere, anytime, and from any device.
Multichannel information access, along with a built-in knowledge collaboration model, improves the efficiency and synergy of teams in real-time.
What’s more, the resilience of a cloud-based system is unmatchable. For example, in the event of a power outage, computer crash, system update, or even just being out of the office, you’ll still have access to the system and you’ll never have to worry about data loss. In other words, the information on which you rely in order to do your job will be available to you anywhere, anytime.
This is what makes cloud-based systems so successful in transferring knowledge. They sync with everyone in the office and can be accessed from anywhere on practically any device. And, because the interface is the same, regardless of whether you’re working on a smartphone or in the office on a desktop or laptop, you can meet with different stakeholders, physically or virtually and relay information in real-time using a shared process and a familiar, data-based frame of reference.
Brokers in the field can also update administrative staff back at the office without having to physically walk paperwork into the office. From prospecting to field underwriting to new business development, a cloud-based system makes the sales and policy configuration process simpler, more transparent, more efficient, and more collaborative.
How Can You Facilitate Seamless Knowledge Transfer At Your Brokerage?
In order to reap the benefits of seamless knowledge transfer within your brokerage, you’ll need to take a look at your current operation and determine what needs to be improved.
More often than not, the first and most impactful step is turning to a digital, cloud-based, management system. To streamline knowledge transfer at all levels, across all business lines and departments (as well as to partners and policyholders outside of your organization), a properly implemented and intelligently leveraged management system is the anti-silo.
With an operationally resilient digital archive, accessible from anywhere at anytime, capable of automatically and instantly disseminating critical business data to authorized parties under predefined conditions, knowledge can be transferred with ease.
The time, money, and practical challenges associated with training new hires and perpetuating the business to the next generation will be dramatically reduced. At the same time, you’ll take a giant leap towards eliminating a host of hidden drains on company productivity and instituting a reliable framework for operational transparency.
It won’t solve all your problems, of course, but in lieu of the ability to directly upload information to your brain, like something out of The Matrix, a smart digital management system is probably the closest you’ll get to a silver bullet solution.