The Future of Insurance Podcast – Tim Hays

CIO, Mountain West Farm Bureau

Season 5, Episode 7 October 31, 2023

Guest Bio

Tim Hays has spent the last couple decades leading digital transformation efforts for pharmaceutical & manufacturing companies. With a track record of over 30 successful full-life-cycle ERP implementations, he has been constantly at work transforming companies through technological innovation & business intelligence. Tim is currently Vice President & CIO of Mountain West Farm Bureau & 360 Insurance companies where significant digital transformation is being enabled by the implementation of the Guidewire Cloud Insurance Suite, and multiple cloud ready platforms. He currently lives in Colorado & Wyoming with his wife of 26 years and their children. Outside of really enjoying his work, if it involves gasoline or gunpowder, he’s probably into it!

Highlights from the Show

  • Tim has done ERP modernization projects 34 times across different industries, and he sees them being the same despite the context being so different
    • Scope, budget, time all seem to be problematic, where we run out of money, cut scope or need more time when we get to the end of the project
    • Tim sees this as a fundamental failure of project management starting in the first 90 days rather than happening at the end
  • Projects that don’t finish on time as a surprise didn’t know half way through that they didn’t have enough runway to finish the second half, which means they don’t know what a days work looks like
  • Mountain West setup weekly steering committee meetings so they could make decisions at speed once
  • While they finished the work in 12 months, because of the past failed attempts, they wanted to take time with testing and release to ensure people were comfortable and had trust in what came out
  • To deal with the desire to customize the solution to look like what they always had, Tim said, “I don’t care what you don’t like, but I really care about why it won’t work, and then we need to address that”
  • You have to make decisions at speed, once. Rework kills you. The way you do this is in how you organize the project
    • That means having the right people in the project – people who are painful to lose from the business
    • Having these people gets you the right insights about what the system needs to do, and forces you to move fast because you can’t afford to keep them out of the business for years on end
  • Don’t ask people what they want since they’ll just tell you what they already have, but new
  • They demoed new development early and often, and there were no contractors doing the demoes so Mountain West’s people owned what was being built and grew more and more comfortable with what they were putting out
  • The way they went about this resulted in a system that has allowed
    • 70% straight through processing (from 0% before), writing 50% more business with fewer people
    • They’re more efficient, but it’s really about how much faster they are now, moving from taking 3-5 days for a policy change to minutes
    • Making product changes and updates in a single sprint (30 days) instead of 6 months (at best)
  • Ultimately, they can make better decisions with better information in the moment

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Thank you to our sponsor

This episode is brought to you by The Future of Insurance, Volume III. The Collaborators, part of the Future of Insurance thought leadership series (future-of-insurance.com) from Bryan Falchuk.

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