“Converting from Vertafore Sagitta to TechCanary and Why with Chris Roman – Episode 016”
by Steve Anderson and Ryan Deeds

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Summary

In this episode of “The Digital Broker” podcast, Steve and Ryan speak with Chris Roman of Magnum Insurance Agency about transitioning from an agency management software that had been in place for over twenty years to a newer and more robust platform.

By listening to this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Issues that arise with a transition from one platform to another
  • Making the decision to evaluate a new platform
  • Evaluating the pain of transition versus the gain of the new platform
  • Gaining buy-in from users and management

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Full Recap

The transition from one Agency Management System (AMS) platform to another can often seem like a perilous trip down an unknown road.  This interview and discussion by hosts Steve Anderson and Ryan Deeds provide real-life experience on how to decide whether an existing AMS should be replaced, the process of doing so, and the concerns and problems that may arise in order to ensure an effective transition.

About Chris Roman and Magnum Insurance (2:27)

Chris Roman is the Vice President/Director of IT at Magnum Insurance Agency in Chicago, Illinois.  Chris has been with Magnum for over twenty-five years and has held a variety of positions on his way to Vice President of IT.  Magnum has approximately 220 employees in 37 locations. The agency focuses on non-standard auto insurance and is a high-volume agency, issuing between 6,000 and 7,000 new and renewal policies per month.

Which AMS was Magnum initially using? (3:17)

Magnum used Sagitta™ for a long time – it was the first major automation system brought in – prior to that, management was largely manual. The agency used Sagitta for approximately twenty years.

When did you decide to evaluate new agency management software and Walk us through the transition process from Sagitta to TechCanary? (4:15)

When you’re with a software platform for over twenty years, that software can be the heart and soul of your business. The process actually began about two years before – it started with the Comptroller suggesting that new systems should be considered. Making a transition is a big decision and often is resisted because agencies are usually heavily invested in their existing software.

It started by reviewing what new technology was out in the world and realizing that the insurance field was “lagging behind” in the new technology. Manual processes were examined and an in-house developer was hired to try to accomplish specific goals. When TechCanary was discovered, it opened the agency’s eyes to the potential and possibilities. Magnum started looking at TechCanary in September/October of 2016, with a contract signed on January 31, 2017, aggressively anticipating an initial “go-live” date of June 1, 2017.  The actual go-live date was March 15, 2018, somewhat later than originally planned.

Did you look at other platforms? (6:15)

Yes, we did look at other platforms including Vertafore AMS360 and AppliedVision. Admittedly, more due diligence and looking at other platforms should have been done, but it turned out that TechCanary really made the most sense.

What made sense about TechCanary? What benefits were there that outweighed the costs and time of changing platforms? (7:45)

While the team at the old platform was great, one concern was that not enough was being done in terms of new development for the Sagitta product.  A very big plus was that TechCanary is on the SalesForce platform.  SalesForce was a BIG reason for the decision – especially the customizability.  Magnum has a niche market with a lot of nuances to their operation so the customizability included great features including custom sales, creating workflows, custom triggers, moving things around, etc. With some existing AMS software, you have to sink resources into development if you want to get additional functionality. In addition, TechCanary has a number of pop-ins, including texting and accounting applications.

Were there critical functionalities that TechCanary had to provide in order to be a viable option? (11:00)

Yes, integration with three major vendors was an absolute must to moving forward. Firstly, integration with the roadside assistance vendor used by the agency was critical. A second need was being able to integrate with the premium financing provider, and lastly was the ability to communicate with the rating application used to set auto insurance rates. Some bugs are still being worked out as the end users are working in the software and finding issues to resolve.

In addition, there are five or six other key plug-ins that were acquired from the app exchange and integrated into the TechCanary software.

What is this “App Exchange” and some examples of how it was used with TechCanary? (13:00)

The App Exchange is similar to the app stores used on iPhone or Android.  Developers create and put out applications on the SalesForce application exchange and allow you to download the ones that could be helpful to your business. Some of the applications integrate with other apps already installed.   TechCanary does not have Accounting General/Ledger software so Magnum downloaded an accounting software called AccountingSeed, which has a direct integration with TechCanary. This allows for automatic logging of payments.  Another application was ChargeIt which allows processing of credit card payments and integrates with AccountingSeed and TechCanary. Currently, an integration of DocuSign, an electronic signature, and digital transaction software is in the process as well. Another important factor was our use of Mitel Cloud software, which logs all our phone calls at a customer level which integrates seamlessly into SalesForce.

Was it difficult to download and install the applications or where they essentially “plug and play”? (14:10)

The installation and download weren’t difficult at all. You don’t really need to be a tech person to do this. Obviously, some configuration was needed but it wasn’t overly complex, and support has been outstanding. One difficulty was credit cards and their acceptance. The first few weeks were difficult but having the credit card software has definitely now added to the efficiency of the system.

How did you tell users that you were going to make a change – was there a strategy? (17:17)

Initially, it was tough. There was a great deal of skepticism and users didn’t think it would ever actually happen. Part of the issue was with the demographic which was about half over age 40 and a half under 40 – with the older group being more apprehensive.  However, there was great support from our agency’s owner and the President. That kind of support and praise of the decision to change makes it easier to win over the user base.

How was the need for a new AMS presented to obtain management buy-in? Was there a compelling business interest that turned the tide to go with a new AMS? (19:17)

At first, the President was very hesitant and at the beginning. He was very cautious. Many agency owners are reluctant to bet on a new vendor. It’s a big decision. There was much convincing from IT, department heads as well as offering many demos. After a month-long discussion process – the decision was made to move forward with everyone on board.

The most pivotal thing that changed the owner’s mind was the quote tracking feature. Originally quotes started on Desktop Raider first and then moved to Sagitta if the purchase was completed. Prior to TechCanary, there were never good metrics on follow-up. TechCanary has “new quote flow”, similar to an interview process. The information is stored in the AMS and provides better metrics regarding who is closing and what their ratio is. This also allows tracking of unsold quotes and allows sales to go back and close additional business.

Do the users like the new interface better and make them feel empowered? (23:40)

The Magnum agency is on the SalesForce Lightning user interface (UI), which is the new version of Salesforce’s UI and most modern. Most users like it and find that it is easier to understand. It definitely appeals to the more recent employees from a visual and navigation perspective. Older users are not as enthusiastic, but they will get on board.  It definitely flows in a much nicer fashion.

If you have additional questions, you can reach Chris at chrisr@magnumia.com

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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