10 Things Agencies Do Right (and Wrong) with Agency Management Systems

July 2, 2012

Records, Reporting, Value Creation


As a volunteer engaged with a network of agency management system vendor clients, I have an opportunity to hear from my peers about their experiences and compare this with what goes on in our own office. While we all find immense value in our systems, we also struggle with maximizing automation — whether it’s our management systems or other technology. Everyone could stand to spend a little more time getting to know what their automation offers and learning how to use these features. Doing so will produce positive results for the agency and create greater agency value.
Maureen Boeing

Maureen Boeing is chair of ASCnet (Applied Systems Client Network) and principal of Landmark Insurance Agency LLC in Cincinnati. Applied Systems Client Network (www.ASCnet.org) is the international network of Applied Systems technology users that helps members increase agency value by driving better system utilization.

The Complete System


Effectively using all agency management systems — policy, document, benefits and sales — is critical to an agency’s productivity and effectiveness. Purchasing and maintaining these various systems is a significant expense for an agency. Making sure users take full advantage of these tools is an ongoing training and education process.
Steve Anderson

Steve Anderson (www.steveanderson.com ) is executive editor of The Anderson Agency Report (TAAR), a monthly newsletter dedicated to providing independent agents with the technology information they need to more effectively manage and grow their agencies. He is also president of The Anderson Network Inc., which was formed to help agents maximize productivity and profits using practical technology.

Opportunities to Maximize


As ACT’s executive director and an active Real Time/Download Campaign participant, I interact with many independent agents and brokers who are committed to implementing the most effective workflows and processes. The common denominator is that all have invested in agency management systems, which helps them eliminate keystrokes and enhance efficiency. Still, many agencies underutilize their system capabilities, leaving dollars on the table that could go to their bottom line.
Jeff Yates

Jeff Yates is the executive director of Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America’s Agents Council for Technology (www.acttech.org). He works with independent agents, companies, vendors, user groups and industry associations to advance effective technology solutions and improve business processes within the independent agency system.

Always Do Better


I have many opportunities to explore with front-line agency and broker staff how management systems support strong sales and marketing results. In our CPIA education programs and our AIMS Society member interactions, I see examples of innovation. At the same time, I find agents and brokers who want to do more. Agency and broker professionals do many things well. Even in these areas, it is possible to improve on system use to increase revenue, bolster retention and boost profits. By making modest shifts or expanding existing workflows and procedures, agents and brokers can find more value in their agency systems and can use them to increase sales, build stronger client relationships and achieve better overall results.
Kitty Ambers

Kitty Ambers is the executive director of the American Insurance Marketing & Sales Society (www.AIMSSociety.org), which provides marketing and sales training, tools and idea-sharing opportunities to property/casualty insurance agency owners, producers, support staff and insurance company personnel.

Wasted Time


If you are accessing carrier websites and typing information into their system without any use of the real-time interface tools provided in your agency management system, you need to be angry. All of us on the agency side of this equation are far too passive about allowing this state of affairs to continue. It’s 2012 now, and the day when this ridiculous waste of our valuable time should have stopped is long past due.
Todd Arnold

Todd Arnold is the co-founder of AB Solutions (www.absolutionsinc.com). He has more than 20 years of experience working in the insurance industry as a network administrator, commercial lines CSR, surety representative, agency accountant, producer, marketing manager and agency consultant. He is also well-known for his ability to extract data from the system via reporting and integrated documents.

10 Things Agencies Do RIGHT


Create Efficiencies. Improve their internal processes to increase efficiencies. This includes a tremendous growth in the number of agencies that are using front-end imaging to achieve the long elusive goal of a paper “less” (not paper free) environment. This can reduce the amount of time that staff spends doing tasks that do not have a perceived client value, allowing them more time to spend with clients.
Angela Adams

Angela Adams is president of Angela Adams Consulting Inc. (www.angelaadamsconsulting.com). She has 25 years of experience, including serving as an agency owner, chief financial officer, commercial and marketing manager. She also has nine years of experience in agency consulting. She has been a regular speaker at the AMS National Users’ Group Conferences and teaches local AMS Users’ Groups nationwide.

Accounting Tools. Agencies use their agency management system as an effective accounting tool. This is the basis for the beginnings of these systems. Agencies have had many years of practice using this portion of their systems.
Patricia Alexander

Patricia M. Alexander (www.patalexander.com) is a consultant, coach and mentor. Her experience spans standard insurance carriers, retail agencies, surplus lines insurance carriers and managing general agencies. She is considered an agency systems and operations specialist and is dedicated to the best use of technology as a means to enhance the service experience and to improve agency profitability.

Create Agency Value. The information we record and maintain within our systems is invaluable. It not only helps answer the question, “How much are you worth?” but also, “How much are you worth to someone else?”
Maureen Boeing

Give Friendly, Conscientious Service. Management systems are the hub of good client service; nearly all agency employees tap the functionality to support client-focused interactions. Some use system database information to help them be proactive, offer alternatives, and ask (and record answers to) more probing questions, including why someone leaves or cancels.
Kitty Ambers

Personal Lines Download. Implement personal lines download and save a huge amount of time with it. Because their systems synchronize with their carriers’, agency staff can provide clients more accurate and complete information, which means better service and reduced E&O exposure.
Jeff Yates

Create Workflows.
Every agency system has a pre-defined way to process various transactions. Agencies have been successful in using these processes to build agency procedures. Efficiencies — as well as errors and omissions protections — are maximized when everyone in the agency uses consistent procedures for processing daily activities.
Steve Anderson

Front End Scanning. How paper is routed is becoming less important. Almost all of the agencies I speak with are no longer maintaining non-electronic files. The superiority of capturing incoming items electronically early is being recognized and adopted by a majority of agencies.
Todd Arnold

Claims Download. Save considerable time in accounting departments with direct bill commission statement download. Also, claims departments are more efficient with claims download, particularly following natural disasters.
Jeff Yates

Client Relationships. Agencies manage their client relationships through their agency management systems. One further step would be to improve their prospect management through their agency management systems. This will reduce their errors and omissions exposure and make new sales more efficient.
Chris Burand

Cloud Computing. Software as a Service (SaaS). A trend has been the move from managing internal computing platforms to outsourcing to the cloud. Moving network management, data backup, version upgrades and user issues to an outside firm frees up agency resources for more productive projects.
Steve Anderson

10 Things Agencies Do WRONG


No Audits. Not auditing processes and workflows to ensure consistency, time-saving techniques, and documentation. Too many procedure manuals sit on the shelf gathering dust because they were not written in a way to make auditing them a natural consistent process.
Angela Adams

Updates and Changes. Agencies often do not keep up with system updates, while vendors create enhancements and fix bugs in their systems. The changes often include workflow improvements that are not implemented; staff continues to use “the old way.” Agencies should ask what the changes make possible and adjust workflow to improve efficiency.
Steve Anderson

Top to Bottom Planning. Often, there is a disconnect between managers who decide what needs to be measured; tools and technologies used to present the measurements; and the procedures and staff that drive data processing that those measurements will be built upon. You can still find people in charge of overall agency operations who believe it is OK not to understand agency procedures or what their automation systems are capable of.
Todd Arnold

Report on Too Little. System functionality can be more robust to track employee performance, plus offer financial, activity, performance, expiration and book of business reports to help managers understand workload, productivity and revenue per employee.
Maureen Boeing

Real-Time Quoting and Inquiry. Functionality exists for both personal lines and commercial lines that helps employees work consistently with numerous carriers, directly from their agency management system. Real-time automates carrier password entry and relays information directly from the agency system to the carriers’ — eliminating re-keying. Real-time lets agencies realize their vision of SEMCI (Single-Entry, Multiple-Company Interface).
Jeff Yates

Engage With Peers. Real benefits come from participating in agency management system user group conferences, local meetings and online communities. Agents can learn from fellow agents how to maximize their systems.
Jeff Yates

Not Consistent With Data Entry.
There is a definite “cause and effect” between good, consistent data entry and sales. A robust database can have a huge impact on cross selling and account rounding opportunities and bolsters the value of management reports. Remember, attaching a copy of a declarations page isn’t the same as entering policy data into the system. You cannot pull reports from an attachment!
Kitty Ambers

No Standards. Agencies don’t define user system standards (i.e., the lack of well-defined activity codes). The agency should define each activity description. This enhances the system search functions, and the ability to quickly retrieve what the user is looking for.
Patricia Alexander

Not Using Full System. Some agencies leave agency management system features and functionality on the table, using much less than the system’s full capabilities. Perhaps they think they don’t need to use the features, they don’t know how, or they don’t know their systems include certain capabilities.
Maureen Boeing

Topics Carriers Agencies InsurTech Tech Training Development

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