Why insurance projects
fail (others, not ours)

Will my installation succeed?

Why insurance projects fail (others, not ours)

In insurance, CIOs and others have their careers on the line for a large system installation. We've heard the stories of millions of dollars spent on projects that never went into production. This isn't just an insurance industry problem. It's been a problem since large projects of any kind were thought of. Napoleon probably fired his CIO after all the delays pushed the project into a Russian winter. It's not a new story.

The people involved in failed IT projects could undoubtedly list hundreds of reasons why the project failed. 

We think there is actually just one thing that went wrong when a project fails.

The developers created the wrong thing.

That's a little flip, but it does get to the heart of it. It comes down to a simple exchange. "Here it is" and "Uhhh, that's not what I want." This is a tragedy if 18 months have passed and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been paid to developers who are diligently doing what they think is right, only for it to be the wrong thing.

If only two weeks had passed, that exchange wouldn't be tragic, it would be productive. The developer could say "Oh, tell me why" and get a response that he or she could act on, come back in another two weeks and present something closer to what's expected.

This is overly simplistic, but this is what agile development, also called iterative development, does. It gets rid of the one common characteristic of failed projects: the wrong thing. By asking. You also need the type of technology that enables such a quick and productive turnaround.

The way to make a project fail in insurance:

  • Bring in a huge team of people
  • Take up your entire company's mindshare for three months
  • Have the huge team leave for six, eight or twelve months
  • Have them come back with the product you asked for (as they heard it)

The product may do exactly what it was supposed to do—but not what it needs to do. You do that a few times and years have passed and a lot of money is spent.

At ISCS, we have a solution in how we practice agile development, apply our insurance expertise, and leverage the technologies that are in SurePower Innovation. It has helped our clients guide their projects to "the right thing."



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