Storming specialist underwriting market during challenging times
OCS has once again made technology work for a leading underwriting company. The client's challenge was how could they directly engage with the Risk. In an ever increasingly competitive and global market, the client was looking at how they get their services out to a broader audience in a more timely and cost effective manner. The result is an innovative online business platform that will enable the underwriter to directly engage with organisations to cover their risks.
OCS brought a number of critical successes to the online business platform, which included leading technology enablement and integration, transparent and effective management, versatility, flexibility with an adherence to delivery schedules and milestones. Capturing the core business objectives, OCS identified the key business requirements and established a user case library. Working as a collaborative team with business and internal IT people actively engaged, OCS via a series of short implementation iterations delivered the first production release within 3 months. Two further releases have been scoped with the first delivered 4 weeks later and the second scheduled to follow a month later.
OCS' project director, Brick Du Bourg, said "I was confident throughout due to a combination of proven implementation methodologies, OCS' best practice, such as Agile and JAD. Further the team's capability to identify and learn enabling tools, such as the latest Business Process Modelling (BPM) tools, coupled with latest Microsoft .NET customisations ensured user engagement as results were obtained quickly - the client's users could see their visualisations coming to fruition."
Drawing a crowd online - a tale of multiple channels and usability
The UK government has a well known policy to ensure Britain is seen as a global digital leader. The drivers for delivering better value services are well stated and applied within UK government departments and non government organisations, NGO, that work alongside. Digital media is increasingly promoted as a prime method for service implementation that can deliver more value. The communication opportunities of reach, timeliness, relevance and availability that online promises are more than aspirations. So when the prime minister's department sought to engage with young people to broaden their global horizons, it was natural that the team tasked with making this happen would be expected to do this via digital tools.
So the challenge was how to get the attention and secure engagement of young people relying almost exclusively on an online armoury. Fortunately, the program had run the previous year, when OCS had delivered the main website and built a forum for the successful young people. So there existed the foundations. Usability tests had identified areas for improvement and experiential functionality that would facilitate the previously successful young people's participation in the dissemination of their experiences - WoM in internet drive. A phase of activity ensured the necessary changes were implemented and the new functionality available in the desired formats. A co-ordinated campaign using different broadcast medium; Forums, Blogs, Twitter, Social Sites and other less personal digital content, such as email, e-newsletters, links, ppc, etc was initiated. OCS' role was to ensure the digital platform was prepared, available and consistently working.
Ten weeks from scheduled Application release date, the primary stakeholder informed the client they sought to bring the online application forward by almost six weeks.
After a brief moment of *!*@!!*, the client and OCS teams through a series of brainstorming, collaborative document sharing and outcome focused web conferences finalised the online application specifications. As the technical lead, Steve Hayes, put it "we originally thought but how can we shorten the schedule by more than sixty percent and not comprise on functionality and quality". The concurrent running of infrastructure, business and application streams enabled OCS and the client to implement as promised and with only a small portion or originally planned functionality for the back office administration function not fully tested and accepted - it was subsequently accepted a week later.
OCS' service manager, Trevor Lillington, summed up the project as "chaos Theory proven. We were able to run key implementation streams independently, often with interdependencies not met, due to a combination of having focused on functional detailing as the first phase of activity and the professional quality by the consultants assigned to the streams. We were introducing totally new members, who had to break-through learning curves extremely quickly and a key tool to making this happen was having the detail available, written and in the heads of available and accessible leaders. The simple approach of getting a mutual understanding clear upfront ensured whilst things were hectic and tight, we and our client were not distracted and hence could counter any problems or issues." The early signs are the business objectives are being successfully met with online application progress showing much larger numbers than the previous year, so it seems the client is drawing the crowd they wanted.
Innovative Change - streamlining payment processing improves customer services, really?
Having set the customer service agenda for many years in the assurance domain, our client identified a double opportunity in its payroll based payments processing. Operational drivers initiated a review of how payroll based payments were processed as part of bringing greater transparency and timeliness. During the review it was noted how significant customer knowledge was locked up in a team deflected by transactional processing. The opportunity was how to leverage the customer knowledge whilst delivering improved operational efficiency and effectiveness?
A joint, client and OCS, team undertook a preliminary series of workshops to capture the business functions and interactions of payroll based payments within the broader scope of a Change agenda. During this period, as well as identifying requirements and core functionality, a further business opportunity around information management that had immediate business value was not only identified, but ratified and implemented with no systems or business process change required. An outline Change business case was presented to the executive, capturing the key elements of change in business processes, personnel and their roles, systems and its functionality, including integration as part of a broader Information Strategy.
Within the same financial year a new system was designed and implemented and the majority of payroll based customers transferred or scheduled for transferral. The team, freed of transactional tasks, has been deployed on leveraging their knowledge of the customer's organisational functions and contacts to enhance the support offered to customers in acquiring and administering their portfolio of products. OCS provided project management and technical capacity for the new system during design and development. OCS' business analyst worked closely with the business unit to facilitate knowledge of the Change beyond the system, which was very beneficial to the system as system's functional changes were identified much earlier during the latter phases of Change and has transitioned system support to the client's internal support team, with 3rd level support available.
OCS Account Manager, Ty Sapsford, sums up with "what started out as an operational response to regulatory change was soon recognised to be a strategic opportunity to redeploy customer knowledge where it could have most benefit. Our client's approach to Information Management, had made it possible to identify the value of information and then target where this information would be of most impact to the business. For OCS, working with such leading thinkers is personally pleasing as well as great business!"
Cash remains King, but now it is also Efficient
Recent studies confirm cash still remains the preferred method for paying for goods as demonstrated by a recent survey by the British Retail Consortium showing 56% of all transactions are cash. The handling of cash is logistically more complex and expensive with the average UK retailer spending up to 1.7% of turnover managing cash. Whilst the prevalent use and distribution of cash remains, retailers will continue to face the challenges of keeping cash secure yet reducing cash management costs. One of OCS' clients, a global leader in cash services, identified a range of innovative solutions it could bring to facilitate the dual goals of securing cash whilst reducing the cost of managing. During the program to bring the new solutions to the markets, it was identified that the mid-tier offering required specialist technical assistance, which was not available to the client via its internal teams or the hardware and business system vendors.
The client recognising that OCS had been operating in the self-service automation (SSA) arena for a number of years, approached OCS to see if OCS could leverage its experience and knowledge to deliver the solution required. OCS embarked on an ambitious and leading edge project to create a new framework to mitigate the shortcomings of the hardware and existing business system integration. The first test of the OCS team came quick and was to deliver a proof of concept before end of year with the project starting in November. The lead up to Christmas was electric as a mixture of controlled passion permeated the team. OCS' project director, Maurice Aroesti, sums it up as "it reminds me of Star Trek, we were well prepared and confident based on the preparation we had done before embarking, yet we were going where no person had been before. We knew we had within our armoury the tools to succeed, yet there was little real world proof it would work, just drilling, team work and commitment. At the front end we had our proven project methodology and at the tail we had some of the best technologists in the business". The first release was a success.
From that eventful and successful beginning, OCS has built a fully operational framework that has led to successful pilots for its clients and helped the client to have the confidence to globally market the solution its envisaged. OCS continues to support and enhance the production solution and the client has engaged OCS in looking to take the successful framework to other solutions.
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