In many ways it felt like an impossible mission, but you succeeded, discovering how to clear ancient overgrowth from your insurance company’s back office and build a digital path to a more flexible and efficient future. Now for an even tougher task: Convincing top management that your plan has met the terms of the quest.
With digital transformation projects, getting executive approval can mean running a fearsome gauntlet of conflicting opinions and objectives. Some leaders will have unrealistically rosy expectations for the miracles that artificial intelligence can perform, while others will be deeply skeptical that the benefits of new and unproven technology are worth the expense and risk of disruption.
Whatever the challenges, here are six ways to present your plan, address potential concerns, and show how it will advance the corporate and career objectives of your managers.
Frame the benefits around customer experience. Insurance executives today worry about their company’s long-term survival in an increasingly competitive market. That makes differentiation and customer experience their top priorities. When you’re speaking with managers, connect back-office efficiency conversations to improved customer service – in other words, how conversion rates increase when insurance policies are priced faster or satisfaction shoots up when claims are paid quickly.
Emphasize ROI. Don’t just present a budget and a timeline; calculate all economic benefits of the project. A complete estimate for return on investment will include amount to be saved from reduced errors and manual processes, as well as less-than-obvious benefits like reduced churn costs. Every dollar earned gives the company the option to increase profits or increase market share through lower prices.
Spotlight chronic pain points. Managers can often get distracted by the silver bullet promises of cutting-edge tech. Technology has progressed rapidly in recent years, but it’s still in its infancy stage. Focus on automating the high-volume, low-complexity tasks that have significant cost and operational impact on your business, such as processing medical or auto insurance claims. Digital transformation is a long-term process, so prioritize processes and initiatives that will make the greatest impact the quickest and scale up from there. Demonstrate these technologies for managers and show how they can be deployed with little risk.
Manage expectations. Many projects that use artificial intelligence technology are seen as failures because they can’t automate 100% of a process. If a system can handle 80% of the workflow, you’ve still cut manual costs by almost as much. You’ll avoid disappointment if your plan has realistic expectations and goals that improve over time as the system gets up and running and handles more and more lines of business. You’ll also come to be known as someone who under-promises and over-delivers.
Highlight the ways in which technology improves jobs. Some at your organization may be concerned that automating processes will eliminate jobs. Don’t hide the truth, but do show how intelligent systems and the latest tech tools can improve satisfaction for many workers—e.g., freeing up a claims adjuster to spend more time getting resources to clients after the hurricane and less time searching through the necessary forms and accompanying documents.
Stress the cost of inaction. Improving back office processes isn’t always sexy, but it does fundamentally impact a business’ operations, customer experience and bottom line. Build your case by showing how the company’s existing systems are dragging down its financial performance today and restricting its ability to innovate in the future. Show examples of how rivals can offer lower prices, better service and more attractive products because they aren’t locked into manual systems. “Regret aversion”—the fear of feeling bad about a decision—is one of the most powerful inducements to action (or inaction), so use it to your advantage.
Many organizations fail or flail not because of outside forces, but rather because the path to success is blocked by internal skeptics. That’s why the most successful evangelizers for digital transformation are often those who anticipate and counter the objections of concerned or cynical colleagues.