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Few firms staffed to handle process management issue


Business process management is more a set of management practices than a set of software tools, according to a group of senior insurance industry technology and financial executives who were surveyed recently.

But, according to the survey results, very few insurance industry companies have staff dedicated to the business process management function.

Those findings were among the first results released from a recent survey conducted by Robert E. Nolan Co. in conjunction with the Insurance Accounting & Systems Assn. The survey was discussed at the IASA's annual conference last month in Minneapolis.

The survey, the full results of which will be available this month, was the second in a series of surveys conducted by the IASA and insurance industry management consulting firm Robert E. Nolan focusing on the use and effectiveness of technology in the insurance industry.

The current survey, Business Process Management, was conducted in April and May, drawing 99 responses from 790 executives invited to participate.

The topic was chosen on the basis of a poll of IASA members that showed considerable interest among the membership in BPM.

BPM proponents say the process can help companies streamline operations, improve business performance and increase profits while raising the level of customer satisfaction and reducing compliance risks.

The survey found that 88% of respondents think of business process management primarily as a set of management practices rather than merely software. But only 22% of those surveyed said their companies have dedicated staff assigned to the function.

Of those surveyed, though, 75% said they don't think business process management is a crucial factor in running their business, and only 20% said their company owns and uses BPM software.

Among the respondents that said they are using BPM software, roughly 60% said they think they have realized significant successes in the functional areas of claims, underwriting and policy administration, according to Robert E. Nolan and the IASA.

While 75% of those responding said they thought workflow is an important functionality of business process management, 57% said they have either no BPM workflow capability or only a manual workflow capability.

Looking ahead to next year's conference, the IASA announced it is accepting presentations to be evaluated for possible inclusion in the educational sessions at its 2008 conference in Seattle. Individuals, member companies and industry volunteers can submit potential topics and suggested speakers through the "Call for Papers" link on the IASA Web site at

The 2008 conference will provide educational sessions in three main categories: accounting, risk and finance; technology; and career skills development. A list of the sessions that were offered at this year's conference can be found at

The deadline for submissions is Aug. 31. In November, the IASA will announce the sessions selected for inclusion in next year's conference, to be held June 1-4. For more information, contact Gina Jolly at or by phone at 919-489-0991, ext. 204.