Analyzing Processes – Why?

I am currently working on writing standards and workflows for a client on the filing of surplus lines taxes. Now this is a sticky wicket in almost any agency I visit. This used to be so easy. The broker that placed the coverage for the retail agency filed the taxes. Well, that is not the case any longer. So the workflow has just happened over the years and is jumbled and confusing.

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When I was last in this client’s office they indicated this process needed help. They provided me with copies of the needed documents and their one page written process. Seemed simple enough. You would think that after all these years I would know that updating and defining any process is not always as simple as it seems.

The documentation, nor any staff member I have spoken to about this process had told me that they retain an original copy of the affidavit that is signed by the producer and notarized. A question to them today on how the affidavit is provided to the broker finally brought out this revelation. Additionally, I was told that each client has a “Permanent File” which contains similar documents. Now this agency scans their paper documents and attaches in their agency management system. So why are they retaining some hard copies of certain documents?

Now this is not really a surprise to me. While I spend a good deal of time asking questions and securing information before beginning a project, little tidbits like this surface all through the re-definition of that process. There are several steps in their current process that I believe are unnecessary. In addition to the retention of the signed document there are several unnecessary steps in their current process. Unnecessary steps cause extra work for everyone involved. Unnecessary steps impair the ability of the staff to be their most effective.

Everyone at this agency recognizes the importance of determining if the agency or the broker pays the tax on a particular policy. They understand the importance of completing the correct forms properly and getting this all done timely. What they have missed, is taking a step back as their systems and processes have been updated and determine how this particular process should be re-designed.

So my thought is that agencies need a framework of how to analyze their processes. People are usually focused on the major processes and some of the more specialized processes are overlooked. What do you do at your agency to get the “fat” out of the process? I would like to incorporate your ideas in future blogs on this subject.

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