Setting up for success: the art of a good discovery process

By Heather Lawson, VP of Group Operations, Genasys
28 May 2024
Setting up for success: the art of a good discovery process

The art of a good discovery process

The Discovery process can often be rushed, particularly when the business is excited about the implementation of a modern core platform and keen for quick results. But as Heather Lawson, Genasys’ VP of Group Operations explains, the Discovery stage is fundamental in order to allow the business benefits and project scope to be realised. Those who get it right at this stage can really avoid costly delays further down the line.

After selecting a policy administration system (PAS) – usually through a robust selection process – both the insurance business and their chosen partner will be keen to get up and running. This is understandable; many will want to make efficiency gains and start improving their customer experience as soon as possible.

However, before jumping straight in comes perhaps the most important stage in the whole onboarding process: Discovery. It’s the crucial first step – covering everything from alignment on project goals through to ensuring the finer details in processes have been correctly understood, interpreted and recorded.

With a robust Discovery process in place, everyone – the vendor as well as the company looking to transform – knows where the business is heading, what success looks like, as well as the realistic milestones and timelines.

If a vendor wants to rush you through a well-structured, formal Discovery process to get your signature, that’s a big red flag. Cutting corners here can add heaps of costs and delays further along the line, and it’s one of the fundamental reasons why many ‘digital transformation projects’ fall short of expectations.

So, what’s the right way to run a Discovery process, and what does “good” look like?

Well, as ever, the total length and breadth of this process depends on the business and its requirements. However, here’s a few absolute non-negotiables for getting that process right in any circumstance.

Early engagement and scoping

Integrate scoping into your RFP process, and engage with solution architects and delivery teams early to set clear expectations. This will give you a head start when it comes to a formal Discovery phase. Then, review this scoping prior to a Discovery, and clearly document the project’s purpose and goals.

Assign clear responsibilities

Make sure the business and the supplier have project managers assigned on both sides, and ensure that they are clearly briefed on the process and goals set.

Have the experts aligned and ready

Avoid ‘group-think’ by the IT team! This means getting the right colleagues (your subject matter experts, who are also your business users) in the room from the start of the Discovery process. Involve them in demos and process mapping; remember, these are the people who will offer real insights around the minutiae of their day-to-day use of tech. While obvious, it can be an overlooked stage of the process. Engage them early, and listen to their feedback.

Plan, plan, plan

The project managers need to work through a Discovery agenda and timeline based on the overall project goals, and have this agreed and signed off by all parties before jumping in. Prepare thoroughly for that all important kick-off.

Watch your language

In planning and briefing, reflect on what your terminology really means. At face value, much of your day-to-day language may seem like industry-standard descriptions, but in reality, any two insurance businesses can have wildly different interpretations of the same phrases. When talking to vendors, take steps to really break down what you mean. It may seem like overkill, but it will avoid any surprises in interpretation further down the line when you’re testing demos or about to go live with your new platform.

Start the Discovery as you mean to continue

As the Discovery starts, make sure that you’ve set clear expectations for both the process and the project as a whole. Clarify business goals and demand engagement from those present. Questions will arise from your business experts along the way – listen, learn and account for time to provide constant feedback.

Understand different stakeholder needs

Clarify the difference between business requirements and solution requirements, setting realistic expectations and mutual understanding of each.

Document everything and review

Advocate for a thorough approach over rushing, ensuring the process is done correctly from the start. When it comes to the end of the process, thoroughly review everything and make sure that all of your key stakeholders are satisfied. Then, and only then, you can start to think about moving into full set-up, migration and deployment.

Now the fun can truly begin! Collaboration becomes the name of the game as both sides work together to agree project plans and begin team selection for the implementation project. At Genasys, that implementation is delivered under agile methodology with clean sprint plans, refinement, demos and retros being mapped out in advance. Once that is all agreed, we’re well on the road to delivery of a fabulous new platform!

The insurance industry is known for its cautious, risk-adverse approach, yet it’s not unheard of for a business to throw caution to the wind by bypassing the foundations of Discovery. Remember, the process is there to set you up for future operational and commercial success. Use it to your advantage.

Download Modern Insurance Magazine‘s Guide to Modern Policy Administration for more information on simplifying insurance technology. 

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