Without a doubt, life at the agency side of the business is very challenging and very fast paced. It seems like there is never enough time to get everything done. Taking on an additional project is probably not something staff are going to be too excited about.
However, to enhance the agency’s E&O culture, continuous improvements are needed. But when agency management brings up an initiative to implement, are they asking the staff to “just get it done”? If so, what will probably happen? A half-hearted effort by some and a minimal effort (if an effort at all) by others. For all agency personnel, there is always work to keep them busy. What do the staff hear – “I can’t keep up with what I have and they want us to take on more”. Their emotions kick in before they really think through the process.
In many agencies, the problem is that there is no one that has the role of really driving the E&O initiative. No one is accountable for whether the project is completed or not. As a result, odds are that the project will probably get started but never get finished.
Is this reality in your agency? A good best practice, employed by many agencies, is to develop a structure that increases the odds of a successful outcome. That structure includes a point person in each of the respective areas (Personal Lines, Commercial Lines, Benefits, etc.) that has the responsibility to “manage” the project. “Managing” the project does not necessarily mean that this person is going to do all the work. They may actually not do any of the work. Their role is to map out a strategy that includes the key steps and key processes. Let’s look at an example.
A key initiative in E&O loss prevention is to periodically (annually is suggested) reach out to your clients to get an update on their exposures. So, if the objective is to develop a process and procedures for this, what would the “focal point person” do?
They would break down the initiative into steps such as:
- What should the form look like?
- When should it go out?
- Can we automate the process?
- Should we communicate via letter or e-mail?
- Where in the system should this questionnaire be stored?
- What is our procedure for when the questionnaires are returned?
- When do we want to roll out this new procedure?
In some of the areas just mentioned, assembling a team of key players is heavily suggested. This should help to ensure that the final product and process has been vetted.
As with any significant project, breaking it down into pieces helps to move that project along.
Establishing a structure for the implementation of new E&O initiatives should play a significant role in seeing that the project is completed and well thought out. The focal person should be responsible for reporting to management on the progress of the project.
Without a doubt, this approach will achieve more success than management just asking the staff to “get it done”.