Insurance broking is highly competitive. A major differentiator is the quality of service to the client. Fast and accurate exchange of information is essential. If systems are not well designed, staff will not be motivated to follow the correct process resulting in higher costs, lost opportunities and frustrated clients.
The new global placement platform designed by Tobias & Tobias for a major insurance broker is used today by over 5000 people and their business partners collaborating in different geographies and time zones.
The platform has transformed the placement practice, driven operational efficiency for brokers and supported better portfolio management for clients. Embedded analytics help target areas for ongoing improvements to the systems.
At Tobias & Tobias, we start and end with the needs of the users. We agreed three key stages with the client:
Stage One: Obtain deep understanding of the unmet needs of users through extensive research.
Stage Two: Design tools and workflows that reinforce existing best practices, and propose new solutions to inefficient ones.
Stage Three: Bring existing users along on the journey to instil confidence that the new solution would meet their needs.
We wanted everyone to feel vested in the success of this project so we carried out an extensive research project. It was essential to bring together different opinions and practices around the world into one single approach. We met face to face with over 180 brokers and support professionals in the US, Europe and Asia. We ran 9 focus groups that included representatives from 19 countries. We surveyed an additional 800 users.
This comprehensive research meant that we could synthesise findings into common themes, user stories and a set of design principles for the new platform. These were presented to the executive steering group to gain their support for the concepts, and to progress to the design stage.
We identified the key tools that would be needed for the new platform to achieve the consistency, speed and efficiency that users required. These included:
- Broker Inbox – each broker’s live placements in one place, designed to enable focus on the priority tasks and monitor the status of ongoing placement preparation;
- Analytics Dashboard – detailed reports to provide insights on carrier, placement and pricing data across the business;
- Document Store – a single view on all relevant documents for a placement and client, bringing together multiple legacy document stores in one place;
- Market Appraisal – Comprehensive insights into carrier performance to aid the selection of the best markets for future placements;
- Response Tracker – a tool to track the responses from panels and open market carriers, as well as binding capability for the winning quotes;
- Carrier Collaboration Portal – An online portal to allow data and documents for panels to be provided to the brokers’ insurance carriers, for interactive collaboration, response and submission of structured quotes.
Agile, test-based design
The new platform was designed and built in 9 months. We worked closely with the build partner, following a highly collaborative sprint-based approach. Each three week design sprint included rapid concept prototyping, user testing and detailed design. This was followed by a second iteration of user testing, refinement and sign-off. The build process was synchronised to follow a similar three week sprint, one step behind the design.
User testing was on the client’s premises in a lab set up for the project. Our research and design teams were co-located for periods of each 3-week sprint. Preliminary test reports were fed directly to the design team, and our designers were present during elements of the testing.
Outstanding buy-in and adoption
The extensive body of user research up-front provided an excellent framework for the design work, and allowed the 3-week sprint-based design and build approach to succeed.
Global adoption was a critical success factor for the new platform. By involving so many users early on and with many who continued to be involved during the design and build programme, the platform has already received a high degree of buy-in from users and other stakeholders.