Tag Archive for: product development and management solutions

Leveraging Automation and Technology to Solve Key Challenges in Insurance Product Development

Leveraging Automation and Technology to Solve Key Challenges in Insurance Product Development

Several current P&C insurance trends are fueling demand for new and updated insurance products, especially because of advances in digitization. Insurance innovation, competition, new market entrants, and changing consumer preferences are some additional drivers behind new insurance product demand. Everything from customer personalization to new and different data sources is inspiring development or modification to existing insurance products – all at a faster pace.

Usage-based auto insurance and behavioral-based rewards are examples of newer capabilities, possible due to digitization, in turn, increasing consumer value and adoption,  Embedded insurance, although not an entirely new concept, is trending because of digital ease and convenient availability by placing an insurance offering right at the point of purchase. Travel insurance with digital airline bookings, pet insurance with a banking app, auto insurance bundled in with auto financing, and similarly commercial insurance plus commercial vehicle purchase. Digital ease and access are making it easier to combine these offerings.  Things become even more interesting when a car manufacturer and insurer share telematics data and offer a bundled safe driving program to unlock discounts. This is already happening as evidenced by companies like Tesla, Ford, GM, and others.

Embedded insurance fits a number of scenarios geared toward making commerce more streamlined and perhaps more logical as one combined experience and is forecast to drive significant new revenue as well. The concept also bodes well for capturing and maintaining consumers’ attention very much in the moment. Just consider having to search and price various travel insurance options separately and after spending time finding and booking travel where it can be too easy to forego insurance coverage once the presence of mind has escaped.  Rental car companies have excelled in promoting additional insurance and taking the extra steps of having drivers decline coverage as part of the contract – right at the counter or online purchase.

Related Reading: Simplify Complex Insurance Product Development with Jama Connect®

What the Insurance Product Experts Say

We recently spoke with several insurance product and regulatory compliance executives and gathered their insights about the state of product development. Insurance product development is often described as slow and expensive, adding to carriers’ existing challenges to automate and reduce expense ratios. Thus, each new product competes for other internal resources and budgets. Development cycles can take several months or even longer from start to launch. When probing a bit more, insurance product owners cite IT backlogs, cost barriers, and slowness around decision making and approvals as some of the common causes. A key component of product development involves approvals through traditional hierarchies which flow from analyst groups to management and from middle managers to executives. Either way, the process is described as a gathering of specialists and individual organizations collaborating together over a long period of time. These steps tend to occur in meetings and through emails which can elongate timelines and be difficult to organize and later trace.

The experts say that such barriers result in a measured volume and cadence of new product launches in any given year. In fact, some product modifications may be abandoned entirely as the backlog for IT projects is recognized insurmountable.  One such insurance executive described the completion of a new product as highly dependent upon select, internal subject matter experts with deep institutional knowledge. And, it frequently takes “sheer leadership heroics” to push the process to the finish line.  Admittedly, insurance product development is complex, especially when it comes to meeting various state rules and regulations.

People, Process & Technology

Equipping teams with the right tools is one of the three essential, People, Process & Technology legs needed to enable effective business management. This framework has been widely accepted for decades and is even more relevant today.  Building the correct set of requirements is the cornerstone of modern product development and this is where insurance carriers’ people teams strive to share, inform and collaborate whether in a waterfall, agile, or a hybrid project environment. Nearly every core functional area has a role to play; from legal research to marketing, from actuary and pricing to distribution.  Insurance carrier functional areas are specialized and distinct, so the term, “siloed” is fitting as both a strength and barrier when it comes to coordinating people’s expertise for requirements creation.  Invariably, much of the process is manual, unfolding through a series of meetings, email inquiries, and approvals and perhaps tracked on spreadsheets and shared drives, thus can be error-prone, lack updates, and most certainly difficult to trace.

Tools and adoption of technology for requirements management are lagging, both in terms of today’s speed-to-market pace and when comparing other complex industries. Yet insurance carriers are continuously investing to catch up. Sophisticated policy admin platforms are needed to maintain all aspects of policy management and many carriers have embarked or may have recently completed legacy system transformational efforts, and for good reasons. Here are just a few:

  • New products may depend on third-party data ingestion and accessibility needs to be cost-effective and has been a barrier since legacy systems don’t have efficient connection points to these outside sources.
  • When a new underwriting data source is presented, the cost-benefit analysis doesn’t support investment costs inherent in legacy systems.
  • Legacy systems have also created difficulty in understanding and addressing defects that have a direct impact to expense due to the time needed to trace, investigate and apply a fix, not to mention business, regulatory, and brand reputation risks.

Insurance carriers are certainly investing and working with a growing number of applications and are constantly managing long IT project list backlogs. So, playing catch-up is an accurate description when it comes to deploying new tools.

Related Reading: The Emergence of Technology for Insurance Product Development

Team Collaboration is a Must

During our research discussions with insurance product development experts, we heard a lot about the level of reliance on key people and teamwork.  Some of the common themes expressed by leaders revealed:

  • In lieu of solid processes and technology, much work is manual, and success is delivered due to sheer, individual “heroics”.
  • Senior leadership tends to reward these heroics so there may be limited motivation to change. Long development cycles are somewhat accepted.
  • Solid change management is a major dependency to ensure people are embracing new technologies – systems are only as good as the people that use them so advocacy at a senior level is imperative
  • Challenges exist due to the many moving parts and functional areas involved in product development – it’s complicated!
  • Transparency/Traceability of changes. What is the change and associated impacts, who is making the change, why is the change being made, how is the change being tested and implemented are key questions.
  • There are competing priorities within functional areas that can impede collaboration.



As technology catches up to make product development more efficient, collaboration and teamwork remain vital mainstays. Organizations are beginning to activate return-to-office plans which involve several flexible hybrid options so new forms of teamwork and collaboration should be in the forefront now more than ever.

The industry has also tackled legacy system transformations noting that few are completed, many are deploying and some have avoided the undertaking altogether because of massive costs and time factors. While there are constant new technology horizons yet to achieve, such as cloud migration, deployment of tools, and user capability upgrades are deserving areas of attention when it comes to striking the right mix of People, Process & Technology. Product development platforms are likely to be one of those priorities for insurers seeking to keep pace with product development and the latest technology.

Insurance Product Development

Simplify Complex Insurance Product Development

Enable process efficiency and real-time collaboration across product development teams to accelerate time to market.

Jama Connect® is a software solution that enables insurance companies to streamline product development by managing project and product requirements from ideation through development, iteration, and launch. It brings people and data together in one place, providing Live TraceabilityTM, the upstream and downstream visibility, and linkages between all activity around each requirement (i.e., design, development, test, etc.), and provides actionable insights into the insurance product development lifecycle. Jama Connect equips teams with the ability to run real-time impact analysis, track revisions and decisions, and ensure the quality of the product you set out to build.

Complex Product Development, Simplified

Eliminate silos to increase efficiencies by aligning teams across the end-to-end product development lifecycle. Jama Connect helps insurance companies deliver high-quality products on time and on budget.

The Challenge

Insurance companies are facing new competitive pressure, digital advancement, and a demand for new individualized products and services. Insurance product development and revision can be slowed by cumbersome regulatory oversight, legacy infrastructure, functional and team silos, and long-entrenched processes and culture. The insurance sector has been slow to adapt, with many teams still using Word documents, spreadsheets, email, and lengthy meetings to make decisions —adding unnecessary time and risk to the development process.

Related: The Top Challenges of Property & Casualty Insurance Product Development

The Solution

With Jama Connect, product owners, product managers, business analysts, developers, and actuaries can align stakeholders (both internal and external) and identify risks early on; allowing them to visualize connections across internal corporate governance, regulations, requirements, and test cases throughout the development process. This enables cross-team alignment, collaboration, and complete visibility across all activities in your entire insurance product development lifecycle to deliver compliant, market-driven products effectively.

With robust integrations across the value chain, Jama Connect allows software teams to work in the tools desired. The flexible integrations support best-of-breed tools leveraged across the product development lifecycle.

Jama Connect aligns to frameworks that support Agile, SAFe, and traditional waterfall methodologies to provide the flexibility to support teams in accordance with their processes of choice.

Learn more about the key features and benefits included in Jama Connect’s solution overview for simplifying complex insurance product development, CLICK HERE

On a chance bus ride down MLK to our Jama office a few months ago I happened to share a seat with a colleague in our Engineering Department, Bryant Syme. He had only been working for Jama for a few months and to be perfectly honest I hadn’t spoken to him much yet. We talked a lot about recent events in the office, but also talked about some of his previous work experiences. This is the first time I had ever heard about Mob Programming and the many potential benefits it can bring to a team of engineers. It planted the seed for me to introduce it to my own team and eventually start evangelizing it to the rest of our department.


What is it?

Mob Programming is a style of paired programming, but with the entire team involved instead of two developers. Every person involved in the story should be in the Mob Programming session and actively contributing, including Product Managers, DevOps and QA Engineers.

Think of Mob Programming as a tool for getting through larger, more obtuse stories and epics. The team will crowd around a single screen with one person driving and will talk through everything from acceptance criteria and design decisions, to implementation of the code and even test cases.

Mob Programming has many benefits:

  • Shared ownership over decisions.
  • Better quality code.
  • Ability to break through large tasks easily.
  • Team bonding through working together.
  • A great way to teach other team members various skills.

This style of work doesn’t need to be limited to programming. It could also be great to work on any project, from writing a document to planning for future work, to doing performance testing.

The tenets of Mob Programming

The main tenets of mob programming that everyone should follow are:

  • Use one keyboard and screen
  • Use a private room
  • Select a time keeper to rotate who is on the keyboard every 15 or 30 minutes.
  • Everyone gets time at the keyboard, even non-programmers.
  • Take a story from start to finish, or in other words: from planning to coding, to testing, to done.
  • Take breaks when you want.
  • A session should span an entire workday.

Each of these tenets are flexible and should be discussed with the group before starting. One thing I’ve had a lot of luck with so far is pausing the timer to do whiteboard planning, for instance. We also usually take however much time we need at the beginning of the session to sketch a rough plan of what we are going to do, in order to stay on task as people switch around.

One keyboard and screen

This allows the team to concentrate without the distraction of e-mail, chat applications or other work. Team members may come convinced that they will need to work on other activities since there won’t be enough to help with when they aren’t at the keyboard. I had such an encounter with one of my teammates who was certain that there would not be enough for him to do. You will need to remind them that this is not a normal meeting and that you need their full attention. In the case of my teammate, I conceded that he could bring his PC as long as he kept his attention on the task at hand. He agreed and ended up being so engaged that he rarely, if ever, looked at his own screen.

One rule you can bend here is that research on one screen can be boring for the team to watch and help with. This is an appropriate time for other team members to use their own PCs to help do research (as long as everyone is staying on task).


Use a private room

This moves the team to another space both physically and mentally, and also prevents outside distractions. Other teams should respect that you have shut the doors and should not interrupt you. But if you are interrupted, team members should volunteer to chat with that person outside of the room to allow others to keep working.

Rotate who is on the keyboard every 15 or 30 minutes

Decide on a good time interval at the beginning of the meeting. I recommend 15 or 30 minutes depending on how many people are in the group, but other time increments are also fine. I’ve found that a group of 4 or less people works best with 30 minute intervals, wheras 5 or more works best with 15 minute intervals. Its just enough time to get some work done, but also enough for everyone to rotate through in the large group.

Bring a timer with a loud alarm. I usually use the Clock App on my iPhone and turn the sound way up. When the alarm goes off, whoever is at the keyboard should immediately take their hands off and let the next person rotate in, even if they were in the middle of typing. The thing to remember here is that it’s not about one person working while the others watch, as it is about everyone working on the same thing. Whoever else rotates in should easily be able to pick up where the last one left off.

A clock that resets itself is also ideal, since you don’t want to forget to start the timer.


Everyone gets time at the keyboard, even non-programmers

Whoever is helping should have a chance at the keyboard, even if they are in a QA, PM or DevOps role. Remember that everyone is working on the same task and watching and directing what the driver is doing, and it should not matter much who is on the wheel. It’s ok to be a backseat driver in this situation.

Participation also keeps everyone at full attention! Keeping the same person or only developers will become boring for others in the room if they never get a chance to participate.

Take a story from start to finish

Even when coded, the story isn’t finished, it still needs to be tested! Work on your test cases as a team. Personally, I am a QA engineer and getting other team members to help work on making quality test cases is very validating and helps us be less black box.

Whatever is required to get that story into the “Done” column should be done during this session. In addition to getting higher quality code, test cases and automation, this also tears a lot of walls down between roles. A lot of our developers often don’t have much of an idea for what DevOps or QA engineers “do”. This is a perfect chance to get cross-team collaboration and boost how your team works together!

People are allowed to take breaks when they want

Bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, lunch breaks should not be discouraged, but be warned: people will want to keep working, so mandatory breaks may be needed!

Mob programming can also be exhausting, if someone needs a few minutes to take a breather, they should be allowed to simply leave and come back when needed.

A session should span an entire workday

This one has been difficult to schedule a lot of times. So far we have managed to schedule one full day and several half days of mob programming. Most literature I’ve seen on the topic so far recommends the full day, if possible, though. If individuals need to leave for meetings or other commitments, there should still be enough people left to absorb their absence.


Mob Programming is a great tool that can be used to effectively chop down and complete large stories and epics. Remember if you are trying this, review the tenets with your group, such as sticking to one screen and one keyboard, as much as possible.

This is also great for bringing other team members up-to-speed with certain design patterns or tools. Someone who never uses the command-line or has never dealt with a certain language before will likely get a chance to learn a lot.

Everyone in the room should be involved, don’t limit it to just programmers, or others will get bored and not be as engaged. Remember to invite everyone in your team to the session, including the Product Managers, QA and DevOps Engineers.

And of course remember to have fun! Odds are your team will have a blast and work just a little better together than before the experience.

If there’s a constant theme for VPs of Sales, it’s pressure. In times flush and lean, driven by forecasts definitive and dubious, sales teams are the shock absorbers and the turbo chargers that sustain and propel a company. Sales always has a journey mapped out, but it also always has to be prepared to reroute around unplanned obstructions.

Suffice it to say that maintaining this forward momentum is never not a challenge. But for VPs of Sales concerned with selling complex products and services, minimizing navigation errors is critical because much is at stake:

Tall tasks:

  • Shouldering responsibility for keeping projections and actual sales aligned. A key part of this responsibility: Understanding how current and future product capabilities align with customer needs so teams can accurately sell to expectations over time.
  • Providing valuable user insights to product team leaders to create solutions that help the product evolve.

Pressure points:

  • Lacking visibility into the reasons behind product changes, their causes and effects, and the resulting pros and cons for customers.
  • Being dependent on others to communicate product changes that affect sales’ strategy and tactics.
  • Lacking an efficient way to best provide sales and customer feedback to the product team.
  • Feeding critical sales input into an email, spreadsheet or document-based vortex where it goes unrecognized and unprioritized.

Burning desires:

To have a simple, accessible and intuitive overview of product development status in order to communicate new features as part of the sales process, and to easily be able to deliver customer insights back to the product team.

With Jama, VPs of Sales can turn hazardous “Wild Wild West” episodes into trailblazing “Bonanza” epics.

How so? You’re able to…

  • Ensure that your sales team stays involved in the product delivery process from start to finish.
  • Capture and share customer feedback.
  • Keep the organization aligned with the strategic goals of the project.
  • Communicate easily with the entire project team to get clarification and decisions made, regardless of location.

Read Game Changers Who Play to Win: Omnigon to see a real-world example of the ways Jama can help you stay in the loop and on track to meet targets.

Check out other ways Jama helps business and engineering teams get and stay aligned:

How Jama Helps Systems Engineers

How Jama Helps VPs of Product

How Jama Helps QA Leads

How Jama Helps Project Managers

How Jama Helps Business Analysts

How Jama Helps Product Managers

Stop chasing down documents in DOORS and focus on the items within them that matter.

For many years, IBM’s Rational DOORS (v.9) has been a widely adopted Requirements Management (RM) tool for teams working with high-compliance systems engineering programs. Because it’s often sold into the enterprise as part of a larger IBM suite, its widespread use is sometimes a matter of default rather than choice.

If you’re like most of today’s systems-driven engineering organizations, you’re primarily in the business of producing complex, finished products and components, often involving a mix of hardware, software and firmware. You’re probably also in a hybrid-Agile development environment and figuring out how to scale that effectively.

In business, times change because needs change. Changes driven by the rise in software-driven products, the imperatives of on-time delivery, and extended supply-chain systems threaten to disrupt traditional, legacy manufacturing and engineering processes. Your teams are pressured to accelerate product delivery and manage growing complexity in distributed organization and supply chains, within products, and across a network of interrelated and interdependent products.

Jama is built to serve and evolve with the ways systems engineering teams build products. How is it different? Jama deconstructs documents into actionable items. You can easily see, grab and reuse items, and be confident that they’re current and include all related comments and status. Forget about wordy “reading assignments.” You can share specific work components with your team for review and approval, without the risk of compromising security or access permissions that document shuffling causes. And when it’s time to pull it all together again to submit or archive a controlled document version, Jama can do that, too.

Skeptical? Make us prove it to you. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and give us a shot. No installation required.



And one proven way to handle them with speed and finesse.

For product managers and their counterparts, the road to launch is a fight to keep every task, every detail and every change grounded in business goals. It’s not enough to be fast. Or to deliver the right product. You need to do both. Yet, the tools product managers depend on are often the weakest link, and not up to the tasks of fast-paced iterative development. But whatever product management tools and methodologies you’re using, you’ll still need to tackle these 10 challenges:

  • Engaging all the right stakeholders in the most effective, efficient manner (knowing who to involve, when and how)
  • Tracking product, program and project details while responding to a constant stream of new information
  • Finding critical information you need at the moment you need it instead of searching through emails, spreadsheets, SharePoint, tribal knowledge in team members’ heads, etc.
  • Keeping teams in-sync and updated on what they are planning, building, testing and releasing
  • Prioritizing and re-prioritizing what goes into each release, based on new information, insights and pressures from multiple voices—everyone from front-end users to engineers to sales to support
  • Revisiting decisions and changes because you haven’t been able to capture context, discussions or approvals in an accessible manner
  • Identifying opportunities to reuse and synchronize projects, items and components to reduce risk and save time
  • Navigating and mastering the complexity of products, projects, processes, teams and communication
  • Struggling to delight business customers while juggling overtaxed resources and tight deadlines
  • Ensuring on-time, within-budget delivery of the right product

 Check out The Product Delivery Problem (It’s Not You) to uncover the one surefire way to establish and maintain a strong connection between intended outcomes, development methodologies and customer value.


Do you have any particularly problematic product challenges not listed here? Share what’s on your mind in the comments or send us a tweet and read our next practical product management and development post here.