Love it or hate it, the internet economy and the “need it now” mentality that goes with it is likely here to stay. In this age of constant innovation and increasing technology, independent agencies that will prosper are those that will incorporate new technologies and adapt to new rules, use effective systems and processes to metamorphose around them and harness the power of available productivity tools.
The first step to improving any process is to gain a full understanding of the way it being done now. Many independent insurance agency owners, caught up in the day to day drama of running a business, find it difficult to make time to document procedures to realize the full potential of their agency management system and other tools — and even more difficult to implement and enforce them.
Borrowing from a lean manufacturing philosophy, the primary goals behind implementing documented systems and processes are to identify inefficiencies, reduce time spent on individual transactions, increase productivity (sales), while executing processes that consistently focus on customer value.
If you have not documented your processes and procedures, the first step you’ll need to take is to identify how things are currently being done and map each process from start to finish.
- Get your team together to review the processes and collectively identify information bottlenecks and areas for improvement that are negatively affecting your bottom line.
- Get input from the entire team on the areas where improvement could most directly affect their ability to sell more.
- Prioritize improvements based on ease of implementation and overall impact.
The 6 Stages of Business Process Improvement
Once you have documented your processes you can focus on improving them. As indicated in the Harvard Business Press’ “Pocket Mentor: Improving Business Processes”1 a business process improvement cycle has six stages. Although complex improvements will take more time at each stage than simple process improvements, the stages apply to both.
- What is your overall goal driving the need for improvement?
- Do you have documented workflows that leverage your technology?
- Are these workflows built into your technology?
- Adjust documentation of procedures to reflect new goals/ processes
- Is there technology available to improve this process?
- Can I outsource activities ( like marketing) and ultimately improve my bottom line?
- Review processes regularly (at least once a year) to insure you are taking advantage of all available resources.
In analyzing your current workflow, you may find that simple, yet effective, adjustments can be made just by getting everyone in the office to uniformly take advantage of tools you already have (like a digital document storage system, Real Time or a uniform to-do list. You may also find that you don’t have the necessary tools or resources to get things done and need to make some adjustments.
Partner XE from SIS – an online hosted, feature rich, affordable, easy to use, scalable agency management system designed to streamline workflow and increase productivity for independent insurance agencies of all sizes gives agencies the tools they need to succeed.
Find out why so many independent insurance agencies are switching to the Partner XE agency management system. Call 800-747-9273 or click here to schedule a free agency management system assessment and consultation.
 Harvard Business Press. Pocket Mentor: Improving Business Process. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2010.