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A Look at Exago: An Insurance Tech Partner Ally

exago logo

Part of what makes our Partner Platform agency management system and insurance CRM so robust is the partnerships we foster with insurance tech companies. Our Partner Allies specialize in their arenas, from esignatures to comparative rating and more, each Partner Ally hones their technology to serve agency needs.

Our Partnership with Exago and Exago BI

Today we highlight our longstanding partner, Exago. Exago specializes in building and delivering customized business insights with intuitive reporting and dashboards that anyone can use. After designing and implementing our own BI ad hoc reporting system, we found it too cumbersome and confusing for our Partner Platform agencies. Acting on our spirit of innovation and efficiency, the team knew it was time to look for an expert to work with and for our community.

Enter Exago and their Exago BI solution. They offered canned templates to make available in Partner Platform user libraries and allow users to adjust reports and dashboards in real-time as needed. Plus, Partner Platform users can create ad hoc, highly customized reporting and dashboards from scratch.

What Exago BI Brings to Partner Platform Agencies

In our search for a business insights tool, we knew we needed something that would adapt to our Partner Platform agencies’ unique needs. In Exago BI, we found a system that was:

  • Flexible with canned and ad hoc reporting and dashboard abilities
  • Easy to use so employees of all levels of tech and business understanding could create, manipulate, and read information
  • Web-based to integrate seamlessly with Partner Platform’s cloud-based system
  • Customizable to fit the varying needs of agencies of any size

Exago BI checked all the boxes. Plus, the people at Exago mirror the SIS and Partner Platform team: imaginative, resourceful, client-focused, and community-oriented. SIS CEO Alex Deak said it best:

When we decided to start our search for a business insights integration, we knew we were looking for a partner, not just a solution. After meeting with several different companies, Exago stood out. Everyone we met with had enthusiasm and drive. They were client-driven and relentless in finding the best solutions. Not only is their BI tool powerful and offers great features, but their people match its excellence. We’re happy with our partnership and look forward to success for years to come.

Learn More About Our Partnerships

The ingenuity and utility of Exago’s BI system are part of what makes the system a great fit for SIS and our Partner Platform agencies. The other part is the common culture we share. As Mike Brody, President & CEO at Exago, said:

SIS shares our client-first approach to product development, and it’s made them an ideal partner. We strive to provide the most user-friendly, self-service BI and reporting solution on the market, and that wouldn’t be possible without engaged clients like SIS. They’re always forthcoming with feedback and insight into their use cases. We look forward to a continued partnership.

Exago is an example of just one of the great companies we partner with here at SIS. These tech relationships are more than integrations with our Partner Platform system – they’re commitments from like-minded companies with diverse strengths working to serve mutual clients.

You can find out more about our Partner Allies, tech integration partners, and our other technology partnerships on our website here. And, you can read about our commitment to security with all our technology partners on sispartnerplatform.com.

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: RPost

Our next “Behind Our Insurance Agency Software” series focuses on encrypted email and signature provider RPost. Based in Los Angeles, CA, the team at RPost operates in the U.S., the U.K., and more than 100 countries worldwide.

Formed in 1999, RPost filled an emerging need in online communications. While the convenience of email made it the dominant form of business communications, the team at RPost saw a worrying trend in email security. Organizations were sending sensitive information via the web and needed to protect it.

RPost stepped up to fill that gap between convenience and security, adding legal verification to email content and attachments through encryption technology. I talked with RPost’s VP of Business Development, Jake Finnell, about how RPost brought its powerful encrypted email and esignature services to SIS and the Partner Platform community.

How did you first become connected with SIS and Partner Platform? What prompted you to want to collaborate?

Our partnership started around 2013 thanks to mutual clients who saw a possible collaboration. They reached out to us and SIS, asking to integrate our services with the Partner Platform system. When we connected with the SIS team, we saw the opportunity – it was apparent that SIS’s clients needed a secure way to send and sign documents. After talking more with the SIS team, we knew they were someone we could work with; the drive to collaborate and innovate was there.

How did you first become connected with SIS and Partner Platform? What prompted you to want to collaborate?

Our partnership started around 2013 thanks to mutual clients who saw a possible collaboration. They reached out to us and SIS, asking to integrate our services with the Partner Platform system. When we connected with the SIS team, we saw the opportunity – it was apparent that SIS’s clients needed a secure way to send and sign documents. After talking more with the SIS team, we knew they were someone we could work with; the drive to collaborate and innovate was there.

What services do you provide for the Partner Platform customer base?

Initially, we integrated our RMail service with Partner Platform’s email integration. RMail provides HIPPA-compliant email security and encryption, allowing Partner Platform users to email documents with sensitive information to their clients. We recently expanded our services with our RSign esignature service. With RSign, Partner Platform agencies can send and receive secure, binding signatures on documents. This makes it easier for agencies to sign new business, update existing coverages, and process claims for their clients.

What prompted you to want to collaborate and integrate your technology with SIS and Partner Platform? Why did you feel the collaboration would be beneficial?

The market demand was strong. Partner Platform is a popular management system among independent agencies, and insurance agencies need better ways to send and receive the confidential documents they deal with daily. We’re excited to partner with the SIS team to provide this essential service to their agencies because they’re a great team to work with. 

What do Partner Platform clients like about RMail and RSign? What type of feedback do you hear?

We hear great feedback. Agents and brokers are constantly focused on revenue-generating activities, and the combination of “ease of use” and affordability are the top two comments we hear. That combination makes it easy for agencies to generate revenue rather than worry about security, compliance, and collaboration.

What has been your experience with the SIS/Partner Platform team so far?

The SIS team is highly responsive and constantly provides top-tier support and educational content for their customers. That combination is rare – we can see how we can grow together, continually improving our services.  

What emerging needs do you see for cybersecurity and insurance in the next 3-5 years?

Every day, we learn something new about how technology can help us and how it makes us vulnerable. Cyber threats and attackers are constantly evolving, and the insurance industry needs to evolve, too, to stay one step ahead. We’re focused on continually improving our services, and we know SIS is as well. Armed with SIS and RPost, insurance agents and brokers can keep ahead of these threats.  

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RPost is just one of our many Partner Allies that are committed to keeping our Partner Platform community connected and protected. Find out more about Partner Platform’s expanding capabilities and our other Partner Allies on our website at sispartnerplatform.com.

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: Archway Computer

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: Archway Computer

In the latest of our “Behind Our Insurance Agency Software” series, we talk with Brad Ruben of IT services provider Archway Computer. Archway has been one of our industry partners for years, and we rely on Brad and his team to keep us and our community up-to-date on the latest insurtech and cybersecurity.

Brad Ruben has been working with insurance agnecy software since 1985, when he first helped a family friend install and run a Coast Premium Rater software as part of the friend’s insurance business. Since then, Brad founded Archway Computers to help independent agencies get the best insurtech and IT support at a price they can afford.

I talked with Brad about Archway’s partnership with SIS and the Partner Platform community, aiding agencies with IT services and providing expert consultation around insurtech and security.

How did you first become connected with SIS and Partner Platform? What prompted you to want to collaborate?

We had a mutual client who told me about SIS and Partner Platform. There was a definite connection around personalized service and commitment to innovation. Once I met with SIS President Michael Doran, we immediately hit it off and have been working together ever since.

We had a mutual client who told me about SIS and Partner Platform. There was a definite connection around personalized service and commitment to innovation. Once I met with SIS President Michael Doran, we immediately hit it off and have been working together ever since.

We get great feedback from our Partner Platform clients about how SIS and the team support them, which we love to see in any insurance technology provider. However, what really stands out is the seamless sales and marketing integrations SIS provides in Partner Platform. That’s something few agency management systems do well.

What services do you provide for SIS and the Partner Platform customer base?

Archway Computer provides managed IT services exclusively for independent insurance agencies. That means keeping their information secure and their technology compliant with cyber regulations in their state. Small and mid-sized agencies usually cannot afford a full-time IT person, and their local IT company knows nothing about insurance technology. So, we’re a great fit for the independent agencies in the Partner Platform community.

Beyond being a preferred IT service provider for Partner Platform agencies, we also provide educational opportunities for the broader Partner Platform and SIS community. We’ve been part of numerous national conferences and hosted cybersecurity webinars for the community. We’re a comprehensive IT resource for SIS and its Partner Platform agencies.

We’ve been lucky to work with SIS for years, establishing a solid relationship. As cybersecurity and compliance issues grow, our partnership is that much more important. Partner Platform understands that having a digital presence and working from anywhere are vital issues for their agencies. Working with us, they can help agencies grow while keeping them protected from cyber vulnerabilities.

You have a unique value proposition that aligns with independent agents (as does Partner). How do independent agents benefit from working with you versus a big-name provider?

Independent agents need someone who already understands the technology they’re using and how to make it work better for them. Larger IT firms just don’t know insurtech and take a long time to get up to speed. Agencies love that we’re knowledgeable, responsive, and hands-on right from the start.

Also, we’re not selling them anything they don’t need. Insurtech software providers will often sell their IT services alongside their tech and then constantly try to upsell. We’re a neutral party that fairly evaluates agency tech without a stake in the game. Our only goal is to keep agencies efficient and protected.

What has been your experience with the SIS/Partner Platform team so far?

We love the SIS team. All our mutual clients experience excellent customer service from them, and we know they’re always working for the client’s best interest, just like us. It’s been great sharing our expertise with the Partner Platform community, including the staff at SIS, who integrate our expertise into their software.

Plus, the Partner Platform team are just all-around great as people. We look forward to getting to meet face-to-face again at the next convention.

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Our Partner Allies like Archway Computer provide invaluable insights into tech advances and how to keep our Partner Platform community connected and protected. You can learn more about Brad and his team at myarchway.com, and see the remote work tips Brad shared with us on our blog

Find out more about Partner Platform’s expanding capabilities and our other Partner Allies on our website at sispartnerplatform.com.

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: Agency Management Resource Group

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: Agency Management Resource Group

We continue to explore the story behind our insurance agency software partners. In this post, we talked with independent insurance veteran Cheryl Koch. Cheryl founded Agency Management Resource Group to help independent agencies “achieve their goals and dreams.” With that motivation in common, we work with Cheryl and her team to educate and equip agencies for success.

When she was introduced to the Partner Platform team, Cheryl Koch saw an opportunity. Equipped with a wealth of training content for independent agencies, she knew she had just what so many Partner Platform agencies needed: personalized education. After holding our first “Ultimate Producer School”with Cheryl and her team, it was clear her expertise was the perfect fit.

I spoke with Cheryl to hear about her wealth of experience in the industry and how she connected with the Partner Platform community.

Cheryl

How did you first connect with SIS and the Partner Platform team?

I got connected through Mary Eisenhart-Belka of Eisenhart Consulting Group. Mary and I were business partners for several years, and she is an excellent judge of character. She was raving about Partner Platform – the people and the system. After hearing so many good things from her, I looked into you all. I realized there are a lot of things we do here at Agency Management Resource Group that would benefit the independent agencies connected through Partner Platform. Partner Platform serves our target audience, so I asked Mary to connect us, and here we are.

How do you collaborate with SIS and the Partner Platform community today?

We decided to start with our wildly successful Ultimate Producer School and Ultimate Account Manager School.

The Producer School is designed for people who are new to P&C sales. We do both a commercial and a personal lines school, but the one we did for SIS was focused on commercial lines. The 10-day in-person school is a blend of technical insurance knowledge and sales skills. Even if someone has been in sales in some other industry, most people know insurances sales is different and needs unique training.

Drawing from our experience selling insurance and owning independent agencies, we offer training on the technical side of the business and the specifics of insurance selling. It’s focused on understanding terminology, what to look for in coverage, and how to have conversations to grow your book of business.

The Account Manager School is a three-day in-person session. It’s what we call “line of business agnostic” because it can apply to individuals working with nearly any type of coverage. It’s a unique program because – as far as I know – we’re the only ones who offer it. It used to be that when a new account manager was hired, they’d attend training sponsored by the company. But companies have stopped providing that training. Instead, they get trained by “the osmosis chair” – they have to learn on the job, on their own. Since independent agencies lack the resources to do this essential training, we started our own.

You have unique experience in the insurance industry. What do independent agents gain from working with you over a big-name firm?

I’ve only ever been an independent agent my whole life.  I understand that emphasis on the word “independent.” Being independent is an agency’s greatest strength and Achilles’ heel all at the same time. They are fiercely independent to the extent that they serve their communities’ unique needs, yet they’re resource-strapped and unable to do training in a meaningful way. That’s why they relied on the insurance providers to give that training for so many years. When those programs went away, they were left with nothing. Some states – some state associations – do some training, but it’s just insufficient.

What we want to do is provide programs that fill that void in the market. Where they could find these resources in generic sales or project management training, we provide targeted insurance training. These are not huge agencies – they’re people owning and running a small business, and they just don’t have the resources and network to train people. Especially with so much new technology, there is so much more producers and account managers need to know than they did ten years ago. And, when they’re expected to know more, there is less available. That’s where we come in.

What do kind of feedback do you hear from the agencies you work with?

Many tell us the training gave them exactly what they needed to succeed. In the Producer School, we hear that it’s a game-changer to understand the sales process and understand coverages and how to look for specific gaps in endorsements that are needed to protect clients. We’re relentless in ensuring our clients know what they’re selling. We want them to come out knowing exactly how to assess coverage. There’s no excuse for going out there and messing with people’s financial life when you don’t know whether you’ve got a good fit for what they need or not. We’re proud to help producers be prepared in that way.

For the Account Manager training, we get feedback along the lines of, “it changed my life.” Not just “it changed my profession” or “it changed my job,” but “it changed my life.” That’s because account managers are so often overlooked and undervalued. We have so much respect for that job because we’ve done it. We feel privileged to give them the respect and education they deserve to succeed.

What are some common issues you help agencies navigate?

Agencies are overwhelmed – especially their account managers. That job has just gotten bigger and bigger, and technology was supposed to help, yet it hasn’t. In many cases, technology alone can’t drive that change. With multiple insurance companies coming at them with their technology solution and their own agency’s management system, they also have all these other applications to understand and use daily. They’re overwhelmed by what it is they need to know.

We understand that agencies need to identify and address their overall process issues before adding technology. Too often, agencies have attacked problems the other way around, adding technology without addressing overall operations. That just means they have bad practices that are now happening faster. It doesn’t address the problem. We work to identify and address operational issues and look for practical solutions.

How would you describe the experience of collaborating with SIS and the Partner Platform community?

It’s the perfect match. Partner Platform agencies are precisely who we serve and, as small agencies, need what we were providing. They’re a ready-made market!

Beyond the perfect customer march, the team at SIS is the best. Everyone is easy to work with, meeting all the expectations I came with, thanks to Mary. She also raved about the Partner Platform system, so I expected nothing less than impressive. The same is true of the community – all the individuals we had in our first Producer School were great. Everyone was engaged and asking questions. It was a great group.

Find out more about how you can enroll in our Account Manager and Producer Schools and how the Partner Platform can serve your agency: get in touch at sales@sisware.com, or 800.747.7005, Option 6.

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: Eisenhart Consulting Group

The Story Behind Our Insurance Agency Software: Eisenhart Consulting Group

Next in our series on what’s behind our Partner Platform insurance agency software community is the management and operations consulting group, Eisenhart Consulting Group. For over ten years, we’ve been lucky to work with owner Mary Belka and her team.

Mary Belka, CEO and founder of Eisenhart Consulting Group, has been part of the Partner Allies team for more than a decade. When she was first introduced to the Partner Platform system, she was impressed by the hands-on, personalized service the Partner Platform team provided to one of her clients. Since then, a mutual dedication to personalized service has made Partner Platform and Eisenhart Consulting the perfect team for our independent agency clients.

I spoke with Mary to talk about how she came to meet the Partner team, the unique and transformational service she brings to Partner agencies, and how she prepares agencies for the future.

How did you first become connected with SIS and the Partner Platform team?

It was about 10 or 15 years ago while working with an agency in North Carolina. They had just switched over to Partner Platform and were experiencing significant accounting issues due to a former employee’s mismanagement. I hadn’t heard of Partner Platform nor SIS before this, but I found myself on the phone with them to help my client resolve this issue. Even though the Partner Platform team had nothing to do with causing the problem, they methodically and patiently helped us solve it. I was so impressed and moved by their willingness to help. I’ve worked with multiple big-name providers and have never seen that level of service.

A few years later, I was running a Total Quality Agency seminar in Michigan. One of the attendees brought up Partner Platform and the great experience they had with the system and team. I reached out to (SIS President) Michael Doran to pass on the compliment, and he got in touch with me after that. We started talking about ways to connect our insurance consulting with Partner Platform agencies, and the rest is history.

How do you collaborate with SIS and the Partner Platform community today?

It was clear from the start that the Partner Platform team shared our interest in equipping agents for success. We provide one-on-one and group coaching and education sessions for Partner Platform agencies, giving them hands-on consulting on best practices for distinct areas of their business and their agency as a whole.

My team has led an Account Manager School, Producer School, and targeted accounting and E&O session, among other educational programs. We work closely with each agency and provide process documents and workbooks to individualize their experience and bring it back to their agency.

How would you describe the experience of collaborating with SIS and the Partner Platform community?

First off, it’s a dream to use the Partner Platform system as a base in our courses. The system offers a depth of capabilities without being complicated. That ease of use, combined with the various capabilities, makes it an excellent tool for teaching. Specifically, the integrated accounting and insurance CRM are essential for the similar-sized agencies we serve.

As for the SIS team, I heard so many good things before I got in touch, and they all were true. We have a mutual set of clients in independent agents, and our goals are the same: helping the agencies succeed. It’s a true partnership all around.

You have unique experience in the insurance industry. What do independent agents gain from working with you over a big-name firm?

Large firms tend to operate on a one-size-fits-all system. They have a template and fit their clients into that structure in their consultation. While we have base outlines and procedures, our focus is on fitting our services around the agency’s needs. We look at ways to help the agency be more efficient, giving them space to focus on how they can better serve their customers.

Personally, I have experience in the industry, including as a certified E&O auditor, and am familiar with the nuances of, say, accounting within an insurance agency. You might say after this many years, that, “we’ve seen it all,” at one time or another.  The combination of that expertise and experience means our team can see opportunities where others cannot.

What kind of feedback do you hear from the agencies you work with?

The biggest thing we hear is: “You’ve changed everything for us.” That means we were successful in helping agencies see old processes in a new way, opening up space for them to gain maximum efficiency in otherwise time-consuming tasks and increased accuracy in their customer service. We also hear that we’ve helped them operate with a new mindset: one of learning and growing. That’s the kind of lasting change we strive to bring to an agency.

You’ve worked in the insurance industry for over 40 years. What do you see ahead for the industry in the next three to five years?

This is something we think about a lot as we continually improve our sessions. This past year showed us aggregation is growing, meaning smaller agencies need to strengthen themselves or be overtaken by a larger provider. Buyers are on the look-out for vulnerable agencies. That means our independent agency clients need to think long-term, especially around preparing for perpetuation and keeping their valuation protected.

The key to building valuation lies in shifting from being all things to all people to focusing on doing the select things you do well. Insurance customers want and need knowledgeable agents. The recent COVID-19 pandemic brought that lack of knowledge to light with businesses, events, and individuals experiencing loss without coverage. We need more agents to grow their knowledgebase to serve their customers better.

With a solid knowledgebase, agents can be more flexible and adaptable, something they’ll need more and more in the coming years. Cybercrime and climate change threats continue to grow and change. We need agents to be nimble, embracing elements like automation, remote work, and greater connectivity to help them stay prepared for the unknown.

Find out more about our educational offerings, including our Account Manager and Producer Schools, and how the Partner Platform can serve your agency: get in touch at sales@sisware.com, or 800.747.7005, Option 6.