Insurers boost agility and competitiveness with the Minimum Viable Product approach – a transformation model for a fast-changing world
Insurance companies are under pressure to transform their processes, platforms and systems to enhance responsiveness, innovation and productivity. In a rapidly evolving market, however, traditional implementations can take too long and be too inflexible. Here, we’ll look at why the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) approach is ideally suited to initiate transformation projects that need to be speedy and agile while reducing risks.
MVP vs the traditional approach
Traditional transformation projects can be costly and frequently take many years to complete. This carries comparatively high risks because customer, market and business stakeholder needs can change while the project is still underway – rendering the original objectives irrelevant and making it difficult and expensive to change direction.
An MVP approach, on the other hand, focuses on rapidly establishing just enough basic functionality to take an offering to market or provide a service or feature to customers. Further functionality, business rules and optimisation can then be added at later stages.
This approach helps insurers to become more agile, as new business mandates and technology capabilities – and the value that they offer – can be delivered much faster. It becomes easier to respond to changing needs, reducing risk and the need for rework. This method can be used even more effectively with greenfield  projects leveraging solutions such as Guidewire Cloud Platform, allowing insurers to replace legacy systems quickly to meet regulatory demands or to capture market opportunities.
This tactic also allows insurers to incorporate new functionalities into their offerings faster. For example, new versions of Guidewire Cloud are released every four months. By shortening the development cycle, insurers can incorporate these valuable new capabilities more quickly and easily and realise the benefits of them sooner. Going to a true cloud-based solution does require a change in how releases are planned and executed which we find further increases business agility. This is a critical concept which we will cover in a future paper.
A three-step approach to MVP
At GFT, we recommend a three-step approach to program transformation leveraging an MVP mindset. This focuses on building the core of the product before optimization and adding new features or functionalities.
This step covers the fundamental aspects that are needed to go live with a basic product. A personal auto policy, for example, would involve issuing quotes and contracts, basic billing, simple claims handling and the capability to make limited policy changes. If a 12-month contract is commercialized, features like policy renewal would not be needed at this stage. Workarounds and manual process are acceptable at this point.
In the second step – which must be planned and executed after step one – the capabilities needed to manage business processes end to end are completed. At this point, once the fundamental product is in place, ROI-based prioritisation of tasks becomes key and new products can be added.
This final stage covers optimization and further integration of systems and processes, and brings in additional capabilities like analytics or integrations with insurtechs. Optimization of out-of-the-box functionalities and capabilities of the solution happens in this third stage, which can be seen as a continuous value delivery process.
Make MVP projects successful by simplifying and building trust
By adopting core solutions such as Guidewire’s out-of-the-box capabilities and avoiding unnecessary customization during an MVP project, insurers can reduce complexity, materialise benefits quickly, make the platform easier to maintain, implement new features more easily and cut TCO. This is particularly valuable in greenfield projects, as tools and methodologies can more easily be approved without needing to defer to existing systems.
A strong alignment and trust between IT, other sectors of the business, technology partners and other stakeholders such as distributors is essential. It’s critical that the team contains dedicated resources with the knowledge, empowerment and authority to make the right decisions and deliver quickly. Escalation of decisions should be rare. Establishing the practice of leveraging out-of-the-box tools and methodologies also helps with this.
These operating principles must be clearly communicated to all stakeholders and budget allocated to each of the steps. It’s important for users, stakeholders and other areas of the business to understand the ongoing nature of the project, and that operational efficiencies and other benefits will materialize in later stages of the process. This management of expectations also avoids potential disillusionment with the initiative during the early ‘basic’ stages.
How the MVP approach helped a leading auto insurer reduce the risk of transformation
GFT’s customer, a leading tier one auto insurer, needed to transform its core systems to cope with the challenges of today’s digital era and provide the IT flexibility needed to support its ambition to grow market share and boost innovation. However, it was concerned about the risk of replacing functionally limited but stable and reliable legacy systems. GFT developed a full business and IT transformation roadmap using the MVP approach, leading to a greenfield implementation of Guidewire Insurance Platform delivered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution. The roadmap covered activities ranging from product design, management of a new distribution model, process re-engineering, cloud adoption, and new release management practices. A focus on change management was also addressed throughout the program.
The first implementation deliberately targeted commercial fleet insurance as it represented a mix of complexity, innovation, scale, and risk that would provide the client with confidence for future phases. GFT delivered the MVP solution for this line of business that covered end-to-end processes and digital capabilities (steps one and two) to serve end customers and agents, in well under a year and within budget.
This demonstrated that the first stages of the process could be completed quickly and effectively, before moving on to optimization and adding more of the company’s product portfolio. It also showed how the approach de-risked the replacement of legacy systems for a large business that was concerned about protecting its operations and reputation, while confirming its choice of solution.
Find out more about how GFT’s MVP approach could help your organisation become more flexible and reduce the risk of transformation. https://www.gft.com/ca/en/partners/strategic/Guidewire
 Greenfield project refers to the process of building a new system, process or in this case insurance product from scratch, without any constraints or limitations posed by existing systems or operational processes.