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How One Vendor's Software Solutions Address the Insurance Industry's Unique Issues

Written By: Predrag Jakovljevic
Published On: July 23 2007

In an effort to establish itself in the insurance industry as a leading provider of software solutions, Callidus Software, a San Jose, California (US)-based vendor of sales performance management (SPM) and enterprise incentive management (EIM) solutions, has launched a product suite to address the unique issues that insurance carriers must contend with regularly. For more background, please see How Can Insurance Carriers Retain and Reward True Producers?

So What's the Solution, Then?

Logically, a unified solution suite that delivers producer administration, incentive management, and packaged analytics to one place would be ideal. Such a system should provide two-way, 360-degree views of vital producer information (such as detailed demographics, contracts, and credentials), which is essential for carriers if they are to provide the maximum level of service to producers. Furthermore, the ability to rapidly modify contract payment hierarchies and schedules would ensure that producers are paid correctly and on time, as well as motivate them for appropriate cross- and up-selling of product bundles. The suite should even exhibit enough sophistication to manage the many types of hierarchies required for both captive and non-captive agents, which is necessary for insurance businesses that have both types of producers.

A tight integration between the counterpart EIM and producer management systems should provide

  • reduced costs for carriers that serve producers, by consolidating multiple points of administration (that is, hierarchies, credentials, and other producer information);
     
  • better insight and analytics into how to optimally maintain producer relationships based on producer productivity and performance, thereby improving the market share in a more cost-effective manner;
     
  • faster on-boarding and increased payment accuracy, owing to a single point of administration for producer and incentive management; and
     
  • reduced compliance exposure by consolidating multiple legacy systems and points of administration, and by providing a single historical audit trail of producer data.

Finally, a nice-to-have trait would be if a solution could deliver the above capabilities both on demand and on-premise for better cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and time to value for individual customers' preferences. Some potential benefits of such a coherent system to the day-to-day administration of insurance producers can be mapped to the three SPM phases (see How Can Insurance Carriers Retain and Reward True Producers?). For one, the benefits of the planning phase should stem from a streamlined business process for on-boarding new producers, as well as through support for the licensing process via connected insurance licensing service providers. Also, benefits should be seen from implementing new contract hierarchies and payment schedules more easily, whereby the objects with the "effective date" tags allow for an audit trail and for updates at any time.

The benefits resulting from the execution phase should include a decrease in the cost of servicing distribution channels with centralized producer information and data integrity. This would be accomplished by enforcing data validation and by providing an audit trail, where automated notifications of expired licenses, appointments, continuing education, and contracts would be sent to alert users. Benefits should also be seen from validated credentials during commission calculation processes when the solution is integrated with an EIM system, such as Callidus TrueComp. When one adds constant visibility to the above mix—that is, a 360-degree view of all producer data (which includes such information as appointments, demographics, contracts, continued education, credentials, licenses, and payment schedules)—the ultimate result should be increased loyalty of independent and captive producers (due to the improved service provided by the carrier). In addition, the carrier can analyze producer performance more effectively.

Callidus TrueProducer Elements

The Callidus TrueProducer software aims at decreasing the cost of servicing distribution channels and streamlining producer administration in order to improve agent retention and provide producers with the best service possible. The product is a result of Callidus's extensive experience with customers in the financial services and insurance industries. Five of the eleven largest insurance carriers and six of the ten largest banks in the United States are customers of Callidus Software.

The suite, aimed at managing insurance carriers' channels, offers six modules that collectively enable carriers to more easily manage day-to-day administration of their producers in a single system as well as to provide enhanced compensation capabilities (such as hierarchies, special deals, complex advances, and debt management) not generally required in other industries. Additionally, these are strategic tools for executive management. They enable executives to understand overall channel activity, to track and analyze profitability across the distribution chain, and to better plan and optimize their distribution strategies. The TrueProducer modules include

  1. Demographics—which contains all producer personal information (see How Can Insurance Carriers Retain and Reward True Producers?)
     
  2. Credentials—for automating the process of acquiring legal credentials for a producer. The module manages licenses, appointments, and continuing education, and provides real-time credentials status to Callidus TrueComp or other third party systems.
     
  3. Producer Contracts—for managing producer payment relationships and rate schedules. The rate schedules can be created and updated "on demand" with approval workflow, while the product features a simplified, Web-based user interface (UI) for customer service representative (CSR)level users.
     
  4. Financing and Debt—for automated and ad hoc management of producer debt. The system supports multiple debt types and provides views of debt at firm-, producer-, or policy-level.
     
  5. 360-degree Producer View—as a consolidated system of record for producer information. The module can manage channels, firms, and individual producers (albeit while segmenting firms and individuals). Used as a self-service portal, users can maintain their profiles and preferences. The module is also integrated with Callidus reporting and dispute resolution products.
     
  6. Insurance Reports and Analytics—provides users with insurance-specific reports and dashboards for Callidus TrueInformation and Calldus TrueAnalytics. The module extends Callidus TrueComp's Datamart and offers pre-built reports for producers and internal staff, and dashboards with insurance key performance indicators (KPIs) and alerts.

How It All Fits Together within Callidus SPM for Insurance Suite

As already stated, Callidus's insurance market offering provides integration with Callidus TrueComp software and other third party enterprise applications, including access to compensation, dispute resolution, analytics, and reporting data. To meet the needs of producer administrators, financial managers, and sales forces (producers), Callidus offers a number of modules within its SPM suite for insurance. Namely, for the planning phase, Callidus TrueProducer provides an automated on-boarding process, TrueComp Modeling helps to create more accurate producer forecasts, and TrueAnalytics provides better insights into producer productivity.

During the execution phase, TrueProducer acts as a self-service portal for producers and provides integration to third party licensing and credentials management systems, whereas TrueComp customarily performs more accurate incentive calculations and payments. As for visibility and transparency, TrueProducer offers constant views of producer information. The combination of TrueComp and TrueProducer provides auditable producer payment reports, while TrueAnalytics analyzes producer performance.

Callidus TrueProducer solutions were designed to help increase the loyalty of independent and captive producers by improving services at all levels of producer administration. For administrators, Callidus TrueProducer replaces the process of having to look into multiple systems to find information about a producer. The on demand or on-premise solution allows an administrator to manage all information about a producer in one location, and to have that data exported to other systems as necessary. In addition, its rule-based business process engine allows carriers to set up business processes around adding, terminating, or updating producer information.

User Recommendations

While the market for EIM and SPM applications is still wide open to vendors (which gives all generic and horizontal providers the opportunity to gain a foothold therein), industry-specific solutions like Callidus TrueProducer are not only refreshing—they set the bar for new competition. To be fair, Synygy has long asserted its expertise within the health care insurance segment (that is, in calculating tricky commissions on drug prescriptions). But the vendor's claim often has more to do with the consulting know-how of its personnel, not its prepackaged software with germane reports, KPIs, and so on. Other EIM players will have to decide in which particular industries to stake a claim, and then develop similarly sharp solutions.

Large and midsize insurance carriers in the life, health, and property and casualty sectors in North America and Europe, as well as those with large, independent distribution channels or captive agents, should evaluate and consider Callidus TrueProducer. This is especially true for companies that still rely on a combination of inflexible legacy systems and pesky spreadsheets for complex incentive compensation plans. Such businesses should opt for packaged applications to improve the timeliness, accuracy, and visibility of commissions, bonuses, and other producer payments. This option is especially recommended if these firms are subject to regulatory compliance and scrutiny, since no carrier would want to be caught using a non-licensed agent.

Virtually all carriers should seek easier ways of doing business with their producers and ensure smooth interaction with them as the basis for sustainable, competitive advantage and profitable growth. While TrueProducer is a brand new product with only a few early customers (which implies there might be some ramifications due to the solution's immaturity), early adopters might "up the ante" for improved carrier-producer relations and mutually beneficial business models compared to their laggard peers.

Existing Callidus customers should check out the recently unveiled products and services (including the on demand versions) and consider them potential value add-ons. These customers will have been using TrueComp for managing tricky and layered compensation calculations, custom territory definitions, multitiered sales channels, nonstandard management roll-ups, business units on different calendars or pay periods, etc. Although TrueProducer is independent from TrueComp (meaning it can be deployed in a stand-alone manner), logically, it works best within Callidus Business Process Framework. It also provides some enhancements to TrueComp rules and for pipeline (debt) management. As mentioned earlier, the solution includes some reporting and analytics enhancements to TrueInformation and TrueAnalytics.

It goes without saying that prospective customers should demand references from contesting EIM vendors with regards to their size and the industry they service. Also, vendors must demonstrate skills to staff at major system integration firms, as well as provide training and support for thorough knowledge transfer to the user enterprise's staff. In addition, EIM providers should be tested on their handling of the most complex compensation plans, possibly by using mock-up data (closely resembling reality) from a prospective user's systems. For general recommendations, see Sizing the Enterprise Incentive Management Opportunity—And the Challenges Ahead.

This concludes the series How Can Insurance Carriers Retain and Reward True Producers?

 
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