Blog

10 Days or 10 Months? Pondering the Ideal Turnaround for IT Projects

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, June 4, 2014

There's been plenty of discussion across the industry lately about the advantages of short, rapid-fire IT projects as the path to fast and furious innovation — versus the long-term, months and years-long mega-projects that have characterized enterprise IT. Anyone involved in the deployment of policy administration systems can understand the depth of planning and months of work needed to upgrade or move to new platforms.

The need for fast-and-furious IT innovation seems evident. Competition is growing more intense, and customers are growing accustomed to a world in which online services are delivered instantaneously. An insurer with a slow and lumbering IT process may eventually see its business eaten away by a web-based competitor.

Whether to invest heavily in technology change is a matter before companies in all industries, and Bent Flyvbjerg and Alexander Budzier, both with the University of Oxford, recently explored the ramifications of pumping IT with “steroids” to help meet these new competitive realities.

In a survey of 4,300 IT managers, they conclude that the quicker the turnaround of IT projects, the less risk. Longer projects may run “out of control and incurs massive cost overruns and schedule delays. Every year of additional project duration increases the odds of a project turning into a black swan (an unforeseen event) by 27 percent.”

Two trends in the IT space are helping IT managers and professionals keep the pace of change accelerating. First, there is the rise of cloud-based platforms, tools and applications that are making resources readily available at a moment's notice. Second, there has been a continuing movement to the agile development model, in which teams of IT and business professionals work together on rapid iterations of solutions. So far, so good, Flyvbjerg and Budzierwrite.

However, there may be unintended consequences as well, they caution. The efforts to deliver short, iterative projects may result in “a preference for small, piecemeal innovations,” and even create too much of a focus on IT cost cutting, versus long-term innovation. Sometimes, it takes long-term mega-projects to move things in the right direction, Flyvbjerg and Budzier write.

Overall, it appears that there's plenty of upside to fast-and-furious IT project delivery. However, insurers need to design and adhere to an enterprise architecture — based on input from the business and IT — that ensures that rapidly delivered projects are part of a greater vision.

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

This blog was exclusively written for Insurance Networking News. It may not be reposted or reused without permission from Insurance Networking News.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

Add Your Comments...

Already Registered?

If you have already registered to Insurance Networking News, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immeditely be directed to post a comment.

Forgot your password?

Not Registered?

You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.

Blog Archive

Global Supply Chain, Local Problem

As a technology provider, your client’s ability to deliver products and services to their customers, when and where they need them, is at the heart of their business success.

Legacy Systems Are Increasingly a Competitive Handicap

Legacy systems, while reliable, increasingly hold insurers back, a new study finds

From Her to Watson, and What’s Next?

Imagine a learning system that can replace the performance of your best employee to provide the same level of support across the organization.

Five Reasons to Software-Define Your Operations

It may be possible to provision key services with the click of a mouse, but benefits go well beyond that.

3 Policy Admin Conversion Considerations

Insurers would be wise to learn these lessons before formulating a strategy to convert policies to a new policy administration system.

Boyle’s 4th Law - Response Time Matters!

Why many companies don’t do a good job of measuring the thing that clients value the most.