SOURCE: X by 2

X by 2

May 01, 2013 00:47 ET

Insurance IT Transformations: Do the Opposite of Conventional Wisdom to Succeed, X by 2's Sundaram Tells Michigan IASA

DETROIT, MI--(Marketwired - May 1, 2013) - To succeed with insurance IT transformation initiatives, do the opposite of the conventional wisdom, Ram Sundaram, principal of X by 2, an insurance technology consultancy, told the Michigan Chapter of the Insurance Accounting & Systems Association (IASA).

He laid out five conventional rules and why insurers must do the opposite.

Conventional rule #1: "We need an army because it's a big project." 

The opposite: "Less is more." The "overwhelming force" approach weakens communication, creates paralyzing dependencies, and dampens accountability throughout the team, Sundaram said. "Instead of an army, you need the IT equivalent of Navy SEALs," he said. 

Conventional rule #2: "Call in fine-grained specialists." 

The opposite: "Generalize, don't specialize." It's impossible to build complex IT solutions the way Detroit builds automobiles. "Narrow specialization and a belief in commoditizing tasks can be toxic to success," Sundaram said. "Successful IT transformations require all team members to be versatile generalists who have a broad grasp of the project's vision and understand -- precisely -- how each contribution affects the project as a whole."

Conventional rule #3: "Write down the perfect recipe and follow it." 

The opposite: "Throw away the cookbook." Many people mistakenly believe creating and following the "perfect" process recipe ensures good results. When results don't happen, they make processes even more rigid, which only makes things even worse. "Stay adaptive, continually fine-tune tactics to better align with your project's underlying business value," Sundaram said.

Conventional rule #4: "Status reports say the project is on track." 

The opposite: "Show me, don't tell me. Verify early and often." Top executives can't take reports and PowerPoint decks at face value. They have to visit the trenches to find out what's really happening.

Conventional rule #5 isn't even a conscious rule. "It's something like, you get architecture without thinking, which once you get you won't like," he said.

The opposite: "Hit the ground thinking. Get your architecture right first." The team's "architecture visionaries" must clearly define and articulate their thoughts and expectations at the project's start. "All successful transformations begin with well-articulated business and technical visions, expressed clearly and succinctly," Sundaram said.

"Be bold. Be courageous. Do things differently," he concluded.

X by 2 ( provides architecture planning, execution, and turnaround services for insurance transformation engagements. Clients include life, health and property-casualty insurers, and healthcare organizations.

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