Rural Customers to Benefit from New IT Project

Published: Mon 27 Jun 2005 11:34 AM
Rural Customers to Benefit from New IT Project
A major IT contract was recently signed by leading rural insurer, FMG (formerly known as Farmers’ Mutual Group) for a project to redevelop FMG’s customer/sales network. The supplier is application software specialist, Sales Technologies Ltd.
The IT project, named Century 2, will provide not only significant benefits to FMG’s rural clients, but will also deliver considerable cost savings to FMG. The $6-8 million project is to be in place by mid-2006.
“Clients will notice that new business can be placed more quickly, without having to wait for paper-based confirmations. Our client business managers will be able to complete the entire business process with clients right at the farm gate. Data relating to transactions will be captured at source, reducing reliance on paper that makes the process slower,” said Dave Kibblewhite, FMG’s Chief Financial Officer.
“We’ve been looking for some time for a more flexible and seamless mechanism to continue to deliver extraordinary service to our customers. The SalesTech proposal met our criteria and the new IT platform will allow us to work with our customers more efficiently and cost-effectively. Moreover Century 2 will ensure that our business and customer requirements are aligned, and we have the technology necessary to further FMG’s strategic direction.”
SalesTech has extensive experience in the development and implementation of enterprise software for insurance, banking and telecommunications companies that manages risk and facilitates efficient, profitable sales processes. Major clients include Telecom New Zealand Ltd, Zurich Financial Services (Australia) Pty Ltd and CommInsure.
SalesTech will use its own SalesTech Insurance Suite (SIS). This is a 100% Java-based true n-tier application that uses a web browser as its human user interface. SIS is underpinned by Selectica technology. An integral component of the suite is the Selectica Mobile product which provides the same core platform functionality on untethered platforms, allowing for complex products and services. For contact management, Microsoft CRM application is to be used.
Warren Hall, project manager for Century 2 said, “We started with reviewing 90 packages and solutions. The project team narrowed this down to nine. Demonstrations of their capabilities were presented to representatives from across FMG’s business. Then the list was reduced to five suppliers with thorough investigations and review of their proposals.
“Up to 30 people will be working directly on delivering the various components of the project. However, ultimately everyone at FMG will be involved as the new solution and business processes are rolled out.”
FMG, which this year celebrates it centennial, has experienced considerable growth in recent years. In addition to its rural, lifestyle and business insurance packages, FMG also offers finance, investments, life insurance and a specialist investment advisory service.
The insurer has had a significant presence in Australia since 1994 and, more recently, has increased staffing in its central office from 40 five years ago, to 110 today. FMG employs 258 staff and has 23 branches in rural communities from Whangarei to Invercargill, and three branches in Australia.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Microsoft CRM (MS-CRM) has been selected to provide client management capability across all of FMG. SalesTech will be tightly integrating MS-CRM with their fire & general insurance system, while other customer information will be fed in from existing systems, eg: finance, investments and life insurance. MS-CRM uses net technologies for development and maintenance.
SalesTech Insurance Suite (SIS) SIS is the core fire and general insurance package built around the Selectica rule engine and configurator. This highly configurable solution enables FMG’s business rules to be encapsulated in the system, thereby ensuring consistency of process throughout the organisation. Much of the ongoing maintenance of business rules will be completed by suitably trained business analysts, thereby reducing the operational reliance on IT developers. SIS is a 100% Java application that is J2SE compliant.
Integration The critical area of integration will be between MS-CRM and the SIS. SalesTech, which is implementing these two systems, is responsible for ensuring this integration provides the required functionality, robustness and ease of ongoing maintenance. An XML based common interface format will be used to handle all integration with the CRM and SIS systems. This will reduce the cost of maintaining interfaces and maximize reusability, eg: data feeds from multiple claims provisioning companies would use the same format for loading into the SIS.
Mobile Sales Staff FMG has a number of Client Business Managers (CBM) that visit clients’ farms to complete a needs analysis and provide appropriate cover for that client. The SIS contains a mobile system that provides the CBM with complete client management, needs analysis, quoting and sales capability. This information can then be synchronised with the central server once the CBM returns home or to the office and connects up to the FMG network.
Database Technologies Two industry standard database technologies are being used: The SalesTech insurance system operates on an Oracle database. MS-CRM uses a SQL-Server database.
Hardware and Operating Systems FMG has standardised on Microsoft Windows technology for its server and client equipment and this will be used for all components of the Century 2 implementation.

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