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June 30, 2015

IT Best Practices for Data Management

By: Justin Phillips

Across many carrier organizations and even large agencies, we've seen various different practices for data management. Many companies have a system for each business unit or functional purpose as well as support staff to manage their own individual data sets. The cost and complexity to your IT team to replicate each piece of data within each separate system becomes exponentially greater as your business grows. 

Whether it be customer relationship management (CRM), producer compensation, data warehouse/reporting, producer management (including license and appointment credential compliance) and selling relationship management. Managing this many systems in different locations can not only be costly, but can create greater risk within your business.

Let's take a closer look at some of the main issues that can lead to inefficient management of verifying producer credential information.

High Cost, High Risk

From a cost perspective, a primary issue is the ongoing maintenance of managing the same information in multiple locations. Utilizing several systems drives up the cost due to the redundancy of reviewing and ensuring that changes are being correctly made in all locations, and in a timely fashion. It becomes a constant cycle of replicating, transforming, and validating your data.

But is this necessary?

Even further, another large business risk comes with maintaining several systems. Each system must be compatible and kept current with the code changes of your other systems; if one system fails to replicate data properly to the others the impact on all downstream systems can be great. If a change in your CRM causes data not to load to your reporting system (or worse, loads data incorrectly) you may be making business decisions in the dark or based on bad information. Worse yet, you may be accepting business or paying compensation out of compliance.

Simplify Your Infrastructure

What is the best practice in managing your data?

More and more we are seeing a trend of consolidating data into central repositories and having many systems access that data from this central data store or the use of web services to pull data as it is needed.

The biggest advantage in utilizing a centralized data approach is the ability to directly use a single source to make any changes. This lets you focus your IT resources on validating that the data, and any changes made there, instead of thinly spreading your resources to validate changes and data in multiple storage locations. Not only does this ease the process, it allows you to trust that your data is consistent and up to date throughout your organization.

If data you are using comes from a separate data source (a vendor for example) because it must exist in another location, a very effective strategy is to simply make a call to that system to access that data when it is needed. 

Using a feature from our Sircon offerings, Producer Portal, as an example: Instead of replicating all of the data from their licensing system/provider, many of our customers choose to make a web service call to the system of record when the producer (or administrator) at the agency wants to verify that an agent is authorized to sell a certain product in a specific jurisdiction. If not, then can then easily find a list of authorized producers who are. 

This allows the Producer Portal to stay focused on presenting the data to the user without the overhead of the maintaining data that is already stored elsewhere. The corresponding reduction in costs to maintain, store, and validate that data can be remarkable.

The same principle applies to verification of selling credentials via integration with new business, underwriting, policy administration, compensation, and CRM systems that are not designed to manage producer credentials and selling relationships.

So take a look at your organization. Are you managing your data as well as you can be?

Click here to learn more about how your business can improve data management by leveraging Producer Manager as a central authority and data source for your compliance data.

Justin Phillips

Justin has been with Vertafore for six and a half years as Manager of Professional Technical Services. On a day to day basis, he strives to make business user's lives easier with automation and simplification. In his free time, Justin has a passion for the strength of force and the elegance of movement in the martial arts. He claims to be a "really big geek" as he spends much of his time outside of work in his mini at home data center.