Accepting Change in Your Independent Insurance Agency

Time For ChangeLetting go of how things used to be and accepting new realities can be trying. It is not surprising then, that when your agency upgrades or changes its management system you may experience some of the “pain of change”. There is a tendency to try and fit the new system into the old way and, like any growing experience, there will be some moments of struggle. It takes time to understand and accept something new, but if there is a willingness to let go of the old, good things await.

To help your agency prepare for change, the best thing you can do is be well prepared and anticipate the challenges that can be associated with change. Here are five simple rules for dealing with change.

1. Know things will go wrong. Nothing is ever perfect. When you transition to something new, part of the transition is working out the kinks. Be prepared. Have a system in place to report issues and another to identify how those issues will be resolved.

2. Resist the urge to compare. How often amid change we hear “we used to do things this way…” Although it is tempting to compare the old ways to the new, the more you do the more difficult it will be to accept the new system and processes.

3. Hear people out. No matter how wonderful your new system may be, you will get complaints from staff, providers, clients – anyone who is transitioning to a new way of doing things. Hear each and every criticism, affirm their concerns, and make any changes needed, while realizing they are experiencing the growing pains of change.

4. Use your resources. Most agency management system providers should have resources to help you and your staff get to know the new system – make good use of these resources! This should start with a personalized training, but may also include online tutorials and user groups.

5. Stay connected with your provider. Your management system provider is your number one go-to resource, as they know your system and have gone through the transitional experience many times with each client. Use their expertise! The best providers will have a personalized support staff for you, constantly available to answer your concerns and walk you through any issues.

The SIS support team believes wholeheartedly in providing you with constant support throughout your system transition, including offering a personal customer service representative and personalized trainings for your staff. To find out more about how SIS can help you make a change, contact us today!

Successful Transition – Prepping Your Insurance Agency for a Management System Upgrade

Successful Transition In our last post, we focused on committing to upgrade your agency management system and choosing the best system for your agency. We now look at what to do once you’ve found “the one” and have pen in hand to sign. While you need to literally cross your t’s and dot your i’s, you should be doing so metaphorically , too. By the time your sign your new contract, you should have answers to questions like:

  • When is the contract up for renewal? What happens if you need to terminate the agreement early?
  • How is your payment plan constructed? Will you pay monthly? Quarterly? Annually?
  • What capabilities are included? Can you add or remove capabilities later? If so, is there a fee associated?

These are just a few of the important questions to be reviewed before your final signature. Another important aspect is laying out new system training. Your provider should offer training for your independent insurance agency staff, and may even offer client tutorials. Find out details such as:

  • Training cost: one time fee vs pay per training
  • Training packaging: online, in person or both
  • Training frequency: one time training vs monthly or annual trainings
  • Other training resources: webinars, online tutorials, personal training rep, etc.

When your lingering questions are answered, it’s time to make the commitment to buy. It can be quite satisfying to put down the final signature! Once you do, it’s time to begin the process of getting your agency ready for a new system. As you start this transition, keep in mind these three elements to make it successful:

1. FORESIGHT – Anticipate your needs and make a plan, but be flexible, knowing you will need to change and update your plan as the transition unfolds.
2. COMMUNICATION – Keep the lines open with your provider (new and old), among your staff and with your clients so everyone knows what’s coming next. This eases anxiety and creates much needed trust.
3. PATIENCE – Malcolm Gladwell, former Washington Post journalist, famously wrote it takes 10,000 hours to learn a new skill. Know that it will take time for you, your staff and your clients to adjust to a new system, and foster an atmosphere emphasizing comprehension and comfortability over speed.

By focusing on the needs of your staff and clients, you can experience a successful transition. Personal contact with your provider is essential in supporting you during this change, and we at SIS value that connection. Reach out to us anytime at or 800.747.9273 to talk transition, ask questions or share your concerns. We are here for you!

Commit to Switch – Making the Decision to Update Your Insurance Agency Management System

Change ManagementMaking any sort of change can be intimidating and scary, and changing your agency management system is no exception. Whether it’s a small system update or an overhaul, knowing you need a change is the first step. Your reasons may vary (improve efficiency, lower costs, reach more clients) but the process of committing to and enacting a change is the same.

Investigate and Decide

Know your options. Do you need an update to a current system? A plug-in or add on? Or do you need a whole new system? If you’re looking at a new system, decide whether you want to keep your provider to try someone new. The size of your change will determine how far in advance to plan, and how much research is required before making a decision.

Communication and Consult with Staff

Buy-in with staff is critical to a successful transition. Communicate with your staff early on that a change is coming, get their input on options, and keep them updated along the way. Ensure your staff supports the change, and if not, work with them individually or as a group to win them over.

As you move to implementation, continue regular communication. Update on any changes needed along with an explanation. Keeping staff involved in the decision making process and up to speed on implementation will ensure a smoother transition and an all-around happier work environment.

Stay in Contact with Your Provider

Make contact with your provider at all points in your transition. Contact them as part of your research, using their insight to help you make a decision. Your provider is crucial in helping you create and activate your transition plan. If you plan on switching to a new provider, you will still need to stay in contact to ensure data migration and general wrap up of termination activities

Make a Plan

This point cannot be emphasized enough! Once your have synthesized your needs, staff input, provider guidance and any other aspects, sit down with crucial staff members and make a detailed transition plan. This plan should include aspects like:

  • When will the transition start? How long will it last?
  • Who are the point people?
  • How will it happen? All at once, or in segments?
  • How and when will staff training happen? Is client training needed?
  • How and when will new system evaluation take place? How will adjustments be made?

As you answer these questions, start to build a plan. Creating a timeline and steps is a process, so you should bet on having multiple drafts. While creating your transition plan, stay in conversation with your staff and your provider to ensure everyone involved is on the same page.  Also plan to rely on your provider to help manage many of these questions and to help you coordinate the plan.

As you transition, it is important to have a reliable provider and personal contact. Partner XE users have dedicated individualized support to ensure your agency is getting the best product for your needs and that you feel confident in your transition every step along the way. To find out more about the support and services offered, contact us today!

Ready for a Change? : Updating Your Insurance Agency Management System

Agency Management SystemChange is in the air this time of year. School is beginning again, leaves are changing colors, and you likely have some key decisions to make within your agency. One of those decision may be considering a new agency management system.  As this potential for change approaches, you and your staff need to evaluate your current system and answer the question: is it time for a change?

It can be a bit intimidating to make a change, yet transitions are a necessary part of growth and improvement, both of which every agency wants. The longer change is avoided, the more difficult the transition becomes. As you begin to assess your need for change, ask yourself the following questions:

What are the signs?

Constant frustration and complaints are sure signs a change is needed. This includes frustration experienced by just about anyone who comes in touch with your system, or has to deal with your system’s provider. You should also think about an update if you’re constantly thinking “It’d be nice if we had…” You fill in the blank! If you’re wishing for something more, make it happen. When the status quo isn’t acceptable anymore and you believe a better option is available, it’s time to make a change.

Who do you consult?

Your conversation should always start with your staff to hear them out. Ask what would help them be more effective, efficient, etc.  While the thought of change may be difficult for your staff to consider, it is inevitable.  Although it may not be how or when you think it should happen, change will happen.  You should reach out to your peers to see who they are using and if they are satisfied with the service they are getting.

How much do you change?

This final question revolves around whether you need small updates, or a whole system overhaul. You should gain insight in to the answer through your conversations with peers, employees and your provider, and should consult your budget before moving forward. Make sure you have the right funds to make the changes you need. If you’re falling short, prioritize your needs, go for what you can, and make a plan to integrate additional updates later.

Can we do it?

The answer to this question is always “YES”! No matter how much or little you need to update change can be difficult. But if you stay in conversation with your provider it can be surprisingly less intimidating. We at SIS have dedicated service representatives for each client, and they are there 24/7 to help you decide when, what, and how to change.

Contact us today to find out about our latest updates to Partner XE and we’ll walk you through the transition. Together we can make change great!

Managing Change Successfully

Manage ChangeIn today’s insurance environment, agencies are experiencing rapid change like never before. Globalization and the constant innovation of technology have resulted in a continuously evolving business environment. Change management, the approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations to a desired future state, is a structured approach in an agency for ensuring that changes are smoothly and successfully implement to achieve lasting benefits.

Managing change successfully is not an easy task, nor should the efforts to do so be taken lightly.  Companies that refuse to change get left behind by those who embrace it. Successful agency owners need not question whether or not change is necessary, but focus on how to successfully manage change to ensure the success of the business.

Jeff Yates, the Executive Director of the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) recently published a thought-provoking article entitled Agency Strategies to Manage Change Successfully. In his article, he provides six perceptive ways for an agency to successfully manage change and in turn grow their business.

Yates emphasizes that “Agencies can position themselves to prosper in this rapidly changing environment by creating a culture that embraces innovation and implementing a defined change management process.”

  • Management Sets the Tone
    It is the agency management team that plays a pivotal role in building a culture where “innovation is prized as a core value of the business.” Encouraging ideas on how the agency can do things better from employees and clients, surveying clients regularly, and setting up client advisory councils will provide the ability to test new ideas and generate fresh thinking.
  • Keeping up with Innovation in Other Industries
    Keeping up with the innovations occurring in other industries is essential to success. Though agility is important in reacting to competition, being “anticipatory” will allow agencies to become the competition instead of simply trying to keep up with it. In order to be the “anticipatory” firm, changes need to be made immediately enabling themselves to be where consumers and competitors will be in the future.
  • Employee Involvement & Training are Key
    Encouraging employee involvement in the shaping of necessary changes will also enable agencies to successfully implement change. Empowering and rewarding employees that are innovative will encourage employees to work through any issues and pursue problems until they are fixed. An innovative agency has the right employees in the correct spots, such as those willing to embrace change and ask the right questions to get their jobs done correctly. Many agencies encourage diverse thinking and a deeper understanding of the various client segments by maintaining a staff that reveals multiple generations and ethnic groups. Providing employees with the training necessary for them to become more effective and increase overall job satisfaction is important as well.
  • Slow Down in order to Speed Up”
    Coined by Paul Fuller from here at SIS, this phrase emphasizes the importance of taking the time to ensure the change being considered is worth pursuing. This applies to many facets of the business, from technology to workflows. Opposed to automating a previous workflow that was created for a paper environment, agencies need to rethink these workflows and how they might need to be reworked in a paperless environment.
  • Willingness to Experiment
    In order to successfully manage change, agencies must be willing to experiment and tweak new technologies while listen to the feedback from clients and others. Great examples of these technologies are mobile friendly websites and mobile apps. “There is no question mobility and the ‘connected’ consumer are both ‘hard’ trends that will increasingly affect us.” Internet marketing is also a new technology that many agencies are “experimenting” with. The necessary steps to becoming an innovative agency are experimentation, measurement of the effectiveness of any changes made, and refine implementations when needed.
  • Innovations Save Time & Money
    Let’s discuss time and money, which many of us know can make or break an agencies based upon utilization of each. Efficacious innovations often save time by decreasing the time needed to accomplish certain tasks. By implementing certain innovations, what once took an average of 23 days to complete can be reduced to 2-3 days.

Read the full article here

Yates’ closing statement emphasizes that though there are many available technologies that will enhance your competitive position, there are four key steps agencies must take to manage change successfully. Agencies that embrace innovation, keep up with trends and opportunities, empower their employees, and implement a defined change management process “will continue to experience rapid and profound change.”

Partner Effectively

At SIS, our agency partners’ success is our success and we are committed to helping them grow and expand. Understanding that innovations save both time and money, and contribute significantly to growth potential, we view it as our responsibility to stay ahead of the curve.

To that end, we build our goals and expectations on continuous improvement and adaptation to provide the best service possible.  We listen to what clients want and incorporate their feedback into product enhancements.  We have a strong user group that helps drive productive innovation.  Clients benefit from a management system partner vested in their success and we benefit from the exceptional insight we gain from the people who use the system day in and day out.

We welcome a partnership with you and would like to talk about how we can work together to develop innovative solutions. Our goal is to make our agency partners’ job simpler by consistently working to build a better agency management system, providing exceptional training, and always looking for the next “best way” we can help you succeed. Contact us at 800-747-9273 or fill out a quick contact form and we will be in touch.

Agency Management System ROI

Gauging your ROI when switching agency management systems.

It is easy to look at all the things that frustrate you about your current agency management system and want to run to greener pastures. Think about it. How often have you

  • Wished your agency management system was more intuitive to use,
  • Thought about how great it would be to reduce or eliminate IT and server costs,
  • Wished your agency management system gave you better visibility into your business so it could be managed more effectively,
  • Wished you could take advantage of all those Real Time and download capabilities that are out there,
  • Gotten frustrated with a vendor who keeps making you switch platforms, but then got hung up on the misconception that it would take too long to recoup your investment if you decided to switch systems?

When you switch to the cloud based Partner XE agency management system from SIS, the issues above will be a thing of the past.

Gauging Return On Investment for Your Agency Management SystemThe question is, however, is whether it’s worth the time and money it takes to invest in a new system.

To help you decide, we’ve put together a return on investment worksheet that we can review with you at your convenience. Just contact us and let us know you’d like to do an ROI analysis and we’ll walk you through it.

Ultimately, things to consider include your one-time upfront investment, your monthly support fees, I.T. fees, the cost of upgrading your system software for servers, third party backup server fees and more.

If you are currently running an in house server based system, think about how much you have invested in

  • Servers
  • Installation
  • Networking
  • Routine maintenance and security patches
  • Implementation of large scale patches and upgrades
  • Unexpected troubleshooting/ maintenance
  • Employee down-time when they have to take time off to perform the above tasks

And think about the future investments you will need to make should your server become technologically obsolete.

Since Partner XE is cloud based you are instead dealing with constant, monthly, budgetable costs (based on the number of users you have on the system) which are easily scaled as you add or drop users.

This is a huge plus when figuring ROI.

Click here or call 800-747-9273 to schedule a free agency management system assessment, consultation and ROI analysis. Once you run through the numbers, you just may decide to join the growing ranks of agencies nationwide who are switching to Partner XE.