Organising for Change…
This blog focuses on key ingredients necessary in obtaining buy- in for Change Management to happen in a large insurance company.
1. Create a structure
First, it is vital that insurers put in place a structure to guide, plan and review the change process. A steering agent, in the form of cross-functional team, is indispensable.
In the case of the Kenyan insurer Britam, a Business Excellence Committee (BEC) was created to guide Britam’s change project focused on client centricity and digitization. The committee’s goal was to achieve excellence in all business operations of Britam’s microinsurance unit. It was made up of a cross-functional team, including members of the claims, underwriting, risk, IT and finance teams.
The BEC had two immediate responsibilities. The first was to make its vision tangible by converting it into business and operational objectives. To do so, the team developed an implementation plan and identified all dependencies.
Secondly, the team was tasked with guiding the implementation. The BEC developed a feedback loop, through which updates and recommendations from the implementation of changes by respective departments were shared back with the committee. Such loops are critical in implementing change objectives, helping the core team to identify constraints and adapt to the organizational context.
2. Develop incentives and accountability
Smooth implementation depends on the commitment of staff — driven by both incentives and accountability. It is the role of the steering committee to align incentive and accountability mechanisms in the company with the project objectives.
For example, including tasks that are part of the change project into annual performance appraisals will incentivize staff and help clarify accountability for each activity. Britam broke down its overall vision into tangible business objectives and identified activities to achieve these objectives. These activities were then assigned to staff members and incorporated into their annual personal score cards.
3. Remove structural obstacles to change
Structural obstacles to change arise from an insurer’s existing systems and processes. It is the role of steering committee to identify these obstacles and find ways to address them. Britam identified such a constraint in its traditional product development process. Launch of a new product required approval of multiple internal departments, including sales, underwriting, claims, finance and then support functions, such as IT, risk, marketing and public relations. This slowed down the development process as the prototype had to be taken back to the original departments involved in order to incorporate feedback from support functions. Sometimes this process was repeated several times, leading to delays in product roll outs.
To address this, Britam’s actuarial department developed a product design template. This template provided guidelines for each department on their inputs and the stage at which they should be involved. This meant that most departments were involved in product development from the outset, decreasing the time taken and ensuring progressive changes to the prototype at each stage. This has helped Britam’s microinsurance unit to reduce product development time from six or more months to less than three.