When an insurer plans a system renewal, the primary focus is usually on how the new system supports needs today and in the future. However, few insurance companies start from scratch. Especially within life insurance, policies may be older than 50 years. Therefore, the migration of run-off portfolios usually pops up at some point during the renewal project.
Older systems often have an “uncontrolled flexibility”, a feature that originally was regarded quite handy. Individual policy details could be modified in many ways, and not all information had a designated place or format. Thus, over time, users may have entered the same information in different places and, for example, dates in different formats. Older policies also do not always have all the information required by the new structure; in which case the policy information needs to be enriched. Not to mention file formats, which have changed over the years. There are certainly many more examples. And now, 15–20 years later, when this rather mixed data should be adapted to the structures of the new system, we are faced with a data cleaning task. The scope of a migration project can often be bit of a surprise, but luckily there are tools available to help.
The power of collaboration
In data migration the cooperation between the insurance company and the system supplier is key. The insurance company knows its old products and can foresee some of the challenges in the data structures. The system supplier on the other hand, knows inside out the logic and structure of the new system. When a mechanism for checking the quality and consistency of the data is created in between, even a difficult migration becomes easier.
The three phases of migration
Data migration can be divided into three phases. In the first phase, the migration is planned, and the portfolios are studied to the smallest details. First steps are taken with smaller test data and the creation of data mapping rules starts. At the same time, the insurance company often considers whether some product portfolios can be combined to simplify the management of portfolios in the future.
In the next phase, our conversion tool will take centre stage. It is used to check whether the data to be migrated is consistent and compatible with the new system. Rarely, if ever, is older data ready at once. The conversion tool provides feedback on differences and inconsistencies, such as data fields that cannot be matched in the new structure, missing data fields, or data in an inappropriate format.
This is where the actual data cleaning begins. The same data may be run through the conversion tool several times until it can be stamped as OK. Finally, a policy lifecycle testing will be done to ensure that everything matches in the future as well. For the work to progress promptly, the conversion tool is made available also for the insurance company. Hence, the actual experts of the portfolios and those working on data cleaning can independently test the changes and updates. All in all, a time-consuming phase, but the work is rewarded in the last phase.
The actual migration is often the fastest phase. When the old data has been processed and its compatibility has been verified, this is largely a technical routine, where the converted policies smoothly float into the new system. As a final check, the outcome is reconciled with the source data.
Extensive experience of migrations
In addition to the conversion tool, Evitec Life‘s accurate description of the data structure makes migration work significantly easier. The description gives the customer a clear view of which information is needed and in which format.
At Evitec we have carried out system migrations for several decades. We have converted nearly one hundred portfolios and hundreds of thousands of policies. So, it’s fair to say that our experience has built up over time and our migration process and tools have been put to the test in many demanding projects.
Evitec Life is a policy administration system developed for life and pension insurance companies, supporting both long-term savings and risk life insurances.
In Evitec Life 5.2 beta the most significant development step has been to bring risk life insurance alongside savings products. In Evitec Life, you can now manage risk life insurance agreements, individual policies, joint policies, and large group structures, as well as risk life claims.
Evitec Life offers, as an example, support in policy management for temporary disability, permanent disability to work, permanent disability and critical illness covers. In policy management for groups, special attention has been paid to the ease of maintaining the group’s information and group invoicing requirements.
In claims management for risk life insurances, Evitec Life can among others handle compensations related to the above-mentioned covers and pay both lump sum and daily benefits. The claims handler’s work is greatly expedited and simplified when policies and claims are handled in the same system. The policy information needed in claims management is available and automatically included as part of the claim handling process.
In the new version, digital REST services have been expanded to support, among other things, the sales process, new policy creation and changes made to policy information in self-service channels.
With this version, several general functions have been introduced or updated. Evitec Life supports the future change of the punctuation mark in the Finnish personal identification number, identification of the beneficiary required by the AML directive before compensation is paid out, and notifications to the Finnish tax authority Incomes Register. Additionally, new security improvements have been included to bolster secure operations. To make managing insurance products easier, the PLP Insurance Product Editor tool for defining insurance products has been added to the toolkit.
Interested in hearing more? Please contact email@example.com
Pensions seem to be a hot potato in the EU.
Last Autumn during the European Retirement Week Insurance Europe published the results of a survey on how EU citizens are preparing for their livelihood during retirement. The comparison between the 16 countries participating in the survey, revealed that only 40 % of Finns are privately saving for retirement. The overall average was 62 %, leaving Finns far behind. On the other hand, the Finnish national occupational pension system has been ranked as one of the best in the world in many studies, but will the base pension be enough for future pensioneers? A good question anybody should occasionally ponder on.
The same question has been raised in EU in larger scale. Within EU there are several undertakings aiming at encouraging citizens to private pension saving. PEPP (Pan-European Personal Pension) aims at lowering the barrier for starting pension saving, in addition to which EIOPA (European Insurance and Occupational Pension Association) recently commented EC’s proposal on how to increase EU citizens knowledge of their future retirement income level.
The proposed Pension Tracking System (PTS) would combine all pension saving, both statutory and private. This would give a realistic and up-to date view of the overall retirement income. Seven EU countries already have this implemented, amongst others Sweden and Denmark. The Finnish Pension record is a good start but as it collects only the information of the statutory pension, it should be extended to also compile the information of private pension savings. And although the many law changes regulating pension saving have practically halted the sales of pension insurance, many Finns still have such agreements from earlier days. These savers would certainly benefit of being able to follow-up on the overall situation.
PTS emphasizes on clarity and compressing the information to the most essential parts. Nothing odd, just basic information that can be found in a pension insurance administration system and which is easily transmitted from a modern system. Evitec’s Evitec Life policy administration solution is already equipped with numerous digital interfaces to various external parties, so adding one more is no big task.
But who in Finland would take the lead in developing a PTS? The occupational pension carriers and the Finnish Centre for Pensions administers the current Pension record, but private pension insurances are sold by life insurers. In Sweden the public and private sector have combined their efforts to develop the local PTS, i.e. the Minpension portal. Could similar willingness be found in Finland to promote a common cause?
In Finland Digital and population data services agency (DVV), which is the agency administering the registry of citizens, has already some time ago acknowledged the fact that the current method of forming the personal identification number (PIN) codes identifying individuals, isn’t sustainable in the long run. In addition, the structure of the PIN doesn’t comply with modern privacy protection.
DVV regularly issues new PINs to individuals born for example in the 20th century. Usually it’s the case of a foreigner in need of a Finnish PIN. As some countries mark in passports all citizens birthdate as 1.1. or 31.12., the need for PINs especially for these dates is higher than average. This in turn means that the variations are running out for the 3 digit long individualising number. This needs to be resolved – very soon.
In addition to this most acute challenge, there are also some personal privacy issues with the current method of forming a PIN. A PIN, which should solely be a data individualizing a person, reveals in its’ current form the persons birthdate and gender. These should be faded out to make the PIN unambiguously an individualizing data.
Ministry of Finance initiated in 2017 a pre-study about the PIN renewal. The final report was published in Spring 2020. This has served as a base for the PIN renewal project, which the Ministry of Finance kicked-off in late 2020. But, already in Spring 2021 it was apparent that the time schedule outlined in the final report wasn’t realistic.
The magnitude of the change is rather evident. PIN tentacles are far reached, and they have often touchpoints with society critical functions, implying that the change will require actions from numerous instances, both officials and the private sector. As many instances are also inter-connected, this will require a good amount of coordination. This, and on the other hand the DVV’s more pressing need to find a solution for the individual number series, is not a straightforward quick fix. Therefore, the full-scale transformation of the PIN will be implemented in phases and in the first phase only the sufficiency of PINs will be resolved.
For organisations faced with the changes, introducing the changes in phases is slightly annoying. Although a change process is often more controlled when performed in phases, it unfortunately usually also comes with a price tag. Therefore, already while planning for the first phase, it would be beneficial to grasp the final goal and strive to anticipate the following changes right from the beginning. For the PIN change at least three changing factors are already known, middle mark (indicating the birth century), birthdate and gender. When these change, also the method for checking the PIN changes. How well you hit the bulls’ eye with these (assumptions), remains to be seen.
At Evitec we’re waiting for decisions, as the flexibility of Evitec Life system can in this situation again be demonstrated. None of the currently identified changes are critical for Evitec Life, as PIN is already used as only one dataset identifying a person. Take for instance the birthdate, which often is meaningful in an insurance policy, in Evitec Life it is a separate data field. But, as Evitec Life has extensive integrations and REST services to surrounding instances, dependencies between these will need to be carefully monitored to ensure a smooth change transition.
Do you remember those, sometimes hilarious, examples from school classes, where teachers tried to bestow on us the importance of using the correct punctuation marks? For example, how the meaning of a sentence is completely transformed with the cannibalistic difference in “Let’s eat, grandma” and “Let’s eat grandma”? Or whether you have “thirty five-euro bills” or “thirty-five euro bills”.
Our everyday work is filled with information from many different sources. It comes especially apparent in the insurance and banking business, where we need to consider the business needs, the customer experience side, all the technical aspects, and not the least, the legislative demands. It’s not just punctuation we need to be attentive of, but all kinds of terms and terminology we use when we talk about our customers business, likewise internally as with the customers. And sometimes it gets complicated. It might feel like splitting hairs, but it all matters and makes a real difference, a bit like all the rules with commas and such.
Customer identification vs. identity verification
Take for example one of our recent realization, when we were faced with the difference between customer identification (FIN: asiakkaan tunnistaminen) and identity verification (FIN: henkilöllisyyden todentaminen). Especially in Finnish as the words, tunnistaminen vs. todentaminen, sound and feel so alike, it leaves you wondering where’s the difference. Still, the former is less rigid a procedure than the latter, and the difference in the process is significant. These come from the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AML Act) and when one word in the legislation was changed to the other, it had major impact on the outpayment process for savings and life insurance benefits. And while figuring out the system solution to support this, quite a few of us, including myself, came to realize rather concretely what a difference one word can make.
The impact of getting even the small details right, it isn’t just a legislation driven task dictating what our customers need to get done and how our systems must facilitate those needs. It’s much more than that.
The ability to speak our customers language is an important factor when building credibility and the customers trust. It’s also about showing respect to the customer and their business. But even more importantly it’s vital when making sure that things are understood in the same way and everybody is thereby aiming at the same outcome. At Profit Software we are proud of our eagerness to closely listen to our customers, to understand their business, the needs, the challenges… and occasionally tackle the comical or infuriating consequences occurring when talking about “man-eating chicken” instead of “man eating chicken”.
Vakuuttamiseen ja varainhoitoon erikoistunut LähiTapiola-ryhmä joutui kehittämään myös raportointiaan osana EU:n laajuista vakuutusyhtiöiden Solvenssi II –vakavaraisuusohjelmaa. Yksi käytännön haasteista liittyi kertomustyylisen raportoinnin tuottamiseen, johon haluttiin rakentaa uusi toimintaprosessi LähiTapiolassa. Uuden toimintaprosessin mahdollisti Profit Softwaren toimittama ryhmäraportoinnin kokonaisuus.
LähiTapiola-ryhmän rakenne käsittää 22 vakuutusyhtiötä, joista jokainen tuottaa omat viranomaisraportit. Lisäksi osa raportoinnista tehdään ryhmätasolla. Raportoinnista on numeerisen tiedon lisäksi merkittävä osa kertovaa raportointia, joka muistuttaa paljon esimerkiksi yritysten vuosikertomuksia. Kertovan raportoinnin suurimpia haasteita on sen tuotantoprosessin eli sisällön tuottamisen rakentaminen tehokkaaksi.
–Lähtökohtana meillä oli, että tiesimme yleistasolla, kuinka kertovan raportoinnin työmme haluaisimme järjestää organisaatiossamme. Keskustelimme muutaman tietojärjestelmätoimittajan kanssa ja valitsimme Profit Softwaren ehdottaman ratkaisumallin, koska se vastasi kuvaamaamme prosessia sekä edellytti vain vähäisiä muutoksia olemassa oleviin tietojärjestelmiimme, kertoo projektista vastannut LähiTapiolan hankepäällikkö Elina Saartoala.
Teho irti olemassa olevasta järjestelmästä
LähiTapiolan käytössä oli jo Microsoftin Sharepointiin perustuva intranet-ratkaisu. Kertovan raportoinnin kokonaisuus rakennettiin osaksi intranetiä hyödyntämällä mahdollisuuksien mukaan Sharepointin omia toiminnallisuuksia.
–Asiakkaan esittämän tarpeen ratkaiseminen edellyttää IT-toimittajalta myös malttia – että ei lähdetä heti rakentamaan uutta tietojärjestelmää, vaan katsotaan mitä jo valmiina olevasta voidaan hyödyntää. Profit Software ymmärsi tämän tarpeemme erinomaisesti ja he lähtivät ratkomaan haastetta meidän kannaltamme järkevällä tavalla, Saartoala sanoo.
Kertovan raportoinnin suurimpia haasteita ovat aikataulut ja raportin kirjoittamiseen osallistuvien henkilöiden työn koordinointi. Järjestelmän rakentamisen aikana LähiTapiolassa myös huomattiin, että eri raportteihin sisältöä tuotetaan eri tavalla, eli kehitettävän toimintamallin ja sitä tukevan tietojärjestelmän piti olla myös joustava.
–Ryhmässä ja yhtiöissä raporttien kirjoittamiseen, muokkaamiseen ja julkaisemiseen osallistuvat niin ylimmän johdon edustajat, johtavat asiantuntijat kuin myös viestintäihmiset. Uuden järjestelmän myötä raporteista vastaavat henkilöt tietävät tarkemmin mikä kunkin raportin tilanne on ja voivat tukea työtä paremmin. Lisäksi kaikkien raporttien tuottamiseen osallistuvien henkilöiden työaikaa säästyy, kun prosessi on selvä ja sitä tukeva Sharepoint-toteutus on helppokäyttöinen, kertoo riskienhallintapäällikkö Annina Pietinalho LähiTapiolan riskienhallintapalveluista.
Tietojärjestelmä, jonka käyttäjät haluavat ottaa käyttöön
Projekti toteutettiin iteroiden, joka edellytti tiivistä yhteistyötä LähiTapiolan ja Profit Softwaren tiimien välillä. Toteutustapa valittiin tällaiseksi myös siksi, että tarkkaa teknistä määrittelyä ei lopputuloksesta ensin tehty, vaan IT:n sijasta pääosissa olivat LähiTapiolan toivoma toimintaprosessi ja tulevan järjestelmän käyttäjien toiveet.
–Haimme molemmat käytännönläheisiä, jokapäiväisessä työssä toimivia ratkaisuja. Olimme erittäin tyytyväisiä Profit Softwaren tiimin joustavaan toimintaan ja itsekin pyrimme välttämään turhaa byrokratiaa, Saartoala kertoo.
LähiTapiolassa ollaan oltu varsin tyytyväisiä uuteen järjestelmään, se on vastannut ennalta asetettuja prosessikuvauksia ja on osoittautunut helpoksi omaksua.
–Olen meillä kouluttanut henkilöitämme ottamaan käyttöön uuden toimintaprosessin ja järjestelmän raporttien tuottamiseen. Saamani palaute on ollut positiivista, käyttäjät ovat kokeneet, että sovellus on oikeasti tukenut raportointityötä. Sovelluksen käyttö ei edellytä kokonaan uusien ohjelmistojen tai järjestelmien omaksumista, mikä helpottaa loppukäyttäjän arkea. Olemme ottamassa ratkaisua laajemminkin käyttöön esimerkiksi vuosikertomuksen ja hallituksen toimintakertomuksen tuottamisessa, kertoo matemaatikko Ville Lilja LähiTapiolasta.