SOURCE: X by 2

November 11, 2011 01:18 ET

Insurance Companies Choosing Software Must Go Beyond Analyst Recommendations, X by 2's Sundaram Writes in Best's Review

FARMINGTON HILLS, MI--(Marketwire - Nov 11, 2011) - Insurers choosing commercial off-the-shelf software face a high-stakes challenge, K. Ram Sundaram, senior principal of X by 2, writes in the November issue of Best's Review.

"Choose poorly, and a $50 million tech investment could sputter, stall, or disintegrate two years after the fact," writes Sundaram, whose Farmington Hills, Mich., firm specializes in enterprise and application architecture for the insurance and healthcare industries.

Analysts can shortlist COTS candidates by ranking vendors according to their comparative attributes and capabilities such as innovation and performance. But rankings don't consider the distinct requirements of individual customers, he writes.

"Analyst rankings are a fine starting point for technology selections, but by no means an acceptable endpoint," Sundaram writes. "There will always be a need for more-personalized assessments of vendor compatibility."

Sundaram covers how insurance carriers should use and go beyond analyst evaluations:

  • Dig Deeper

"An analyst's rankings are a tool, not a sacred doctrine. And success when using this tool is directly proportional to a carrier's ability to incorporate that information into its own, more thorough selection process."

  • Upgrade the Team

Select product evaluators who can analyze the complex, underlying architecture of a given solution,

  • Unplug the PowerPoint

Push beyond PowerPoint decks and simplified vendor demonstrations. Instead, validate finalists with a two-to-three day "smoke test" on-site with the vendor -- road-testing real business and technical use cases.

  • Remember the Architecture

Off-the-shelf functionality is less important than the flexibility to meet a carrier's unique requirements.

"It's about the architecture, first and foremost. More than feature sets, we're interested in how a system accommodates the need to expand or contract claim data, how it handles a change in the number of questions or fields in the quoting process, how it customizes workflows and business rules."

"One carrier's perfect architecture might be another carrier's downfall. Just as a surgeon can't merely drop a new heart into a patient's chest cavity, a new IT system must be meticulously and intricately connected to all the elements of a carrier's current technology environment."

"Chose Wisely" can be read in full at

Best's Review magazine is published monthly by the A.M. Best Co. for insurance professionals.

X by 2 ( provides architecture design, planning, oversight, and turnaround services on transformative enterprise-scale business technology initiatives. Clients include national and regional life, health and property-casualty insurers, and healthcare organizations.

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