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Case Study

Bridging the gap between business and IT

Weak IT capabilities at an insurance company had created a bottleneck for growth. The company's return on IT investment was weaker than competitors and senior management disagreed on the IT strategic direction. Bain created a five-step approach to address our client's IT transformation challenges and issues.

  • min read

The Full Story

The Situation

InsuranceCo*, a leading underwriter of life, auto and other insurance products, was undergoing a large-scale, strategic transformation with a strong focus on IT.

Although InsuranceCo spent less on IT than competitors, its ROI on IT was weaker. In addition, its IT organization was weighted toward pure technical skills and lacked personnel with business management skills. Senior management too lacked agreement regarding the IT strategic direction.

The industry was deregulating, and InsuranceCo needed faster and more flexible IT tools to cope with accelerated product life cycle, more integrated financial management and a step up demand for CRM solutions.

InsuranceCo asked Bain to advise on the following issues:

  • How does InsuranceCo's IT capability compare to industry benchmarks?
  • Given its business strategy, what should InsuranceCo's IT strategy be in the future?
  • How should its IT strategy be implemented?
  • What governance and process should it follow to effectively and efficiently manage IT?

 

Our Approach

Bain created a 5-step approach to addressing IT transformation challenges and issues.

Our Recommendations

 

  • Ensure business/IT alignment by clarifying POD (Point of Departure) and POA (Point of Arrival) of IT
  • Engage CIO in the business strategy development process to identify IT requirements related to business strategy & engage business management in planning, implementation, and assessment of IT projects
  • Lead strategic IT decision-making and accountability to the business unit level
  • Establish rigorous project management process
    • Make decisions based on quantitative cost-benefit analysis
    • Introduce new function of business analyst to bridge the communication gap between the business departments and IT department
    • Pilot test with end-users in implementation
  • Launch new function-based organization to increase efficiency and promote IT expertise through proper division of work

 

The Results

  • Senior management reached agreement on IT strategic direction. A steering committee and business/IT fusion program have been set up to involve both business and IT personnel in sharing business needs and IT requirements
  • A business analyst, acting as a new communication intermediary, is expected to significantly improve communication efficiency between business departments and IT, which was once highly cumbersome and ad-hoc.
  • With rigorous prioritization of investment initiatives, the company can ensure control in IT spending.
  • A new functional organization, combining similar functions once in different teams, will allow resource pooling and effective collaboration
  • With re-defined KPI structure in close alignment with corporate strategy and IT vision, cooperation between IT organization and business departments are ensured. Further, transparent performance tracking is now in place.
  • An initiative management manual, clearly manifesting documentation standards, cost/benefit methodology and work steps associated with each initiative, makes rigorous and systematic project management feasible

 

* We take our clients' confidentiality seriously. While we've changed their names, the results are real. 

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