The proof of the pudding, as they say,                            is in the eating.

Agent Portal

The Client

For a regional life insurer, contending with disparate agent and policyholder web sites not only increased IT costs and maintenance demands, but also constrained its ability to do business efficiently. With a unified portal architecture delivered by X by 2, the insurer now has a lower-cost platform in place that will improve the experience of agents and customers, enable it to expand its online presence, and speed its time to market.

Business Situation

A regional life insurer had developed separate web sites to serve different constituencies, including independent agents, policyholders, and association group members. However, this multi-site strategy increased costs and created integration challenges with back-end policy administration and rating/quoting systems. Company leadership also felt that they were not presenting content and functionality to help generate business. Additionally, the divergent sites did not carry the same look and feel, which negatively impacted user experience and the company’s branding efforts.

The company’s producer portal was a particular problem. The vendor performed most of the maintenance, but was unable to respond quickly to changes in site content or functionality. Additionally, the vendor’s per-seat licensing fee meant that the cost of the producer portal increased as the insurer’s agency force grew.

The carrier needed to consolidate its platforms in a way that would deliver consistency and capability for its agents and policyholders while giving it greater control in the delivery of information and self-service capabilities.

Services Provided

  • Application Architecture and Strategy
  • Integration Architecture and Strategy
  • UI Architecture
  • Project Management
  • Detailed Design
  • Advanced Software Development

Our Work

The insurer engaged X by 2 to develop a forward-looking architecture that would be the foundation of portal platform consolidation and that would reduce cost, ease maintenance, and provide common look-and-feel. The platform would also enable the carrier to efficiently present data from back-end systems to various constituents, to make it easier for them to conduct business with the carrier and, ultimately, to drive increased premium volume.

The X by 2 solution incorporated three key components:

  • A unified portal architecture. Because vendor lock-in was a significant pain point, the carrier targeted the producer site as its first priority. It was important that the solution deployed to replace this portal be able to support future site launches as well. Following a breadth-first assessment, X by 2 delivered a unified portal architecture that supported a new producer site and established the architectural placeholders necessary to develop personalized portals for policy holders and other constituents.
  • Integrated content management. It was essential the carrier gain control of content delivery and presentation from the portal vendor and also eliminate any IT bottlenecks around web content deployment. X by 2 first developed an information architecture that created an organization and taxonomy around content and self-service capabilities that would serve the carrier’s multiple constituencies. X by 2 then used its solution assessment and selection framework to do an evaluation of available enterprise content management (ECM) solutions. Based on that evaluation, an ECM system was selected and deployed that would integrate with the unified portal architecture and put control of content in the hands of the business.
  • A flexible integration framework. Like many insurers, the carrier contends with legacy, mainframe-based policy, claims and billing administration systems. X by 2 created an integration framework between these systems and the unified portal architecture through a flexible extract, transform, and load architecture. The integration framework is loosely coupled from the back end systems, which provides the carrier the flexibly to replace back-end systems with modern platforms and cause no disruption to the web front end.

Benefits Realized

X by 2 set an aggressive, four month project goal for the producer portal phase to help the client migrate off the vendor solution. X by 2 delivered the solution on schedule.

The unified portal architecture had immediate cost-savings. Payments to the previous vendor for licensing and maintenance are eliminated, creating an accelerated project payback timeframe. Additionally, new self-service capabilities have reduced help desk demands. For instance, agents can now perform self-registration and administer privileges for sub-agents without involving the carrier’s service staff , who can focus on higher value-added activities.

Improved control of content has paid dividends in efficiency and quality. Instead of sending site content changes to IT staff , who would route those changes to the vendor, business staff can now use the ECM platform to update content and modify its structure in terms of the information architecture that X by 2 established. In the future, the ECM system will also enable the carrier to provide content personalization targeted to the different users served by each portal platform.

With the unified portal architecture, integration framework, and content management architecture solutions delivered by X by 2, this insurer now has the ability to unify its online brand and image. The company has the ability and flexibility to plug in more self-service features because the platform architecture has been opened and connections to back-end systems are no longer hardwired. In turn, this architecture gives the carrier the flexibility to make changes or wholesale replacements to back-end systems without impacting the portal.

Going forward, the portal solution will allow the company to be in control and respond quickly to changing business needs. Unifying the disparate web sites will enable it to project a consistent brand image, reduce costs while improving usability, and offer greater levels of self-service functionality.