In Insurance Times’s October 2020 issue, Applied Systems speaks to PIB Group’s head of integration and special projects, James Johnson to discuss how their software implementation went while working from home
Never before have we seen a period of such rapid digital transformation.
The pandemic has driven many businesses to accelerate, or assemble for the first time, their digital strategies in to continue serving their customers. Amid stay-at-home orders and the need to sustain operations and grow, brokers are looking to technology and alternative customer service models to thrive in their new normal.
While adopting new technology is critical to remain competitive in this new digital landscape, the idea of implementing a new system would normally be daunting for brokers. To discuss how their software implementation went while working from home, Applied Systems sat down with James Johnson, head of integration and special projects at PIB Group.
Why did the employee benefits side of PIB Group decide to adopt technology?
Johnson: Previously, our employee benefits business had been run using several different systems. A big step forward in our ongoing development was to bring everything together to help us grow the business, enhance our processes and leverage opportunities across the wider group. We chose Applied to work with us on this digital transformation journey as a leading provider of software with native employee benefits functionality. Having everything in one place and accessible to everyone has enabled us to streamline our processes, improving efficiencies and ultimately benefiting our customers.
How did the pandemic affect your digital transformation?
Johnson: Thankfully it didn’t. We hit our implementation goals despite the pandemic. But that is not to say it didn’t present a significant challenge. Fortunately, the Applied staff didn’t miss a beat when they began working from home. And, importantly, there was flexibility from both our team and Applied to deliver all the materials and sessions remotely to ensure implementation remained on track.
How did implementation change as companies went remote?
Johnson: Before we started working from home due to the pandemic, we met with Applied several times in person to start the configuration stage and begin planning for training. But when the pandemic forced everyone to work from home in late March, the Applied team had to reorganise their entire implementation plan. Applied split the training schedule to have more sessions with time in between to accommodate our colleague’s daily tasks, helping our team balance tasks and stay engaged over video conferencing calls.
Tell me more about how training changed while your staff worked from home
Johnson: We split our team up into groups of 10 and put together a plan of around 10 sessions for each group, all delivered using video conferencing. The challenge was to keep everyone engaged, so rather than have eighthour sessions like we would have done in person, we shortened each session and spread them out over several days. In fact, enabling all our colleagues to share their screen remotely during the sessions turned out to be a particularly effective method of engagement. Everyone was asked to perform a task as part of the sessions, keeping them on their toes and ensuring we achieved the right outcome. The team was very positive in their feedback on the sessions, particularly given the circumstances.
What would be your advice to brokers who are ready to adopt technology, but are nervous about the time or effort needed for implementation while working from home?
Johnson: The right software provider will ensure implementation goes well for your business. With Applied, we often felt we were treated like a special customer. I’m sure our implementation specialists were juggling multiple customers but they were always available when we needed them, and they made sure nothing was missed. Digital technology was needed to transform our business and processes and, while implementation can be a lengthy process that requires training, it is possible to achieve a positive outcome even when facing the challenges of remote delivery.