Operational Excellence Trends for 2016 and Beyond

Operational ExcellenceIn April, I spoke at a meeting of operational leaders from the insurance industry. At their request, I opined on a few trends that impact and will continue to impacts an insurer’s quest to achieve operational excellence. The trends resulted from keynote panels, discussions, and presentations at the 2015 Operational Excellence in Insurance conference, which NEOS chaired. Here are the five trends I presented in April – how would you add to or refine this set?

  1. Operational Excellence initiatives have a greater likelihood of success when they can demonstrate a clear link to business value. Get in the minds of your stakeholders. Ask them what value they expect from the initiative and what they’ll be monitoring to see if it’s being delivered. Then figure out how you can prove the value is being delivered and align your project outcomes and milestone to those metrics.
  2. Replacing a policy admin system is a great catalyst for operational excellence. When you replace or significantly overhaul a core system, it creates the opportune moment to leapfrog your operational excellence because you can radically re-work your business processes, embed new automation, and re-think jobs, roles, and teams. The careful selection of the right admin system goes a long way to advancing your operational excellence journey.
  3. Companies are incorporating the customer at the center of their processes. Journey mapping, customer experience design, and voice of the customer initiatives are three increasingly common ways insurers are shifting to become more customer-centric.
  4. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is capable of automating repetitive, well-defined, rules-driven activities, transcending rules engines and workflow systems to liberate capacity.
  5. Any operational excellence initiative must draw from outside industries. It’s not enough to acknowledge the trend – practitioners must articulate what customers expect from insurers based on what they experience with other industries from account or profile management to alerts and online self-service opportunities.

Would you add to this list? Remove something? Or is there a nuance or refinement you’ve observed?