ACT Advises on Off-Site Tech

July 16, 2003

The Agents for Council Technology (ACT) has published a new report designed to help independent agents and brokers assess the benefits of using an application service provider (ASP) and analyze the issues that should be addressed to ensure that the ASP provides the agency with the secure, dependable and responsive solution it is seeking.

ACT, which is affiliated with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA), formed an ASP Work Group to devise a question-and-answer checklist to assist independent agencies in evaluating a move to an ASP for off-site technology applications and support. The ACT report—Evaluating ASPs: Issues Agents Should Consider—recommends a series of questions for agents to ask when transitioning to an ASP and then provides some perspective on those questions. An ASP is any partner that provides off-site core technology solutions and support for an agency.

In using an ASP, particular hardware and software that an agency uses are housed off-site. ASPs extend far beyond online agency management systems and can include such other agency applications as rating, Web sites, e-mail, office suites and specialized insurance software. ASPs can be hosted by the vendor providing the software, a third-party ASP vendor, or a carrier.

The ACT report is divided into four major sections:
—Is an ASP right for me?
—Ascertaining the ASP’s performance and service commitments
—How are problems handled?
—Implementing an ASP

The checklist also includes guidance about Internet service providers (ISPs). Having a reliable, high-speed communications link to the Internet is critical to independent agencies today and to the effective use of ASPs.

The complete ACT report is available in the “What’s New” section of the ACT Web site, which can be accessed at www.independentagent.com by clicking on the Agents Council for Technology tab.

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