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Crawford Thrives on Change to Deliver Value

Brian Flynn | October 27, 2014

Our industry is in a state of flux. Organizations that can metabolize change faster than the competition will come out on top. At Crawford & Company, we see change—across market conditions, regulatory requirements and customer expectations—as an opportunity to set new standards for how insurance businesses operate. My role as CIO is to understand how disruptive technologies like mobility and social collaboration can support that goal by accelerating smarter decisions and actions.

Imagine the impact on your business if claims management took one-fifth the time it used to or if you could invoice your customers 70 percent faster. There would be significant operational benefits from collapsing the cycle of awareness, knowledge, and action by giving decision-makers access to enterprise data, content, collaborations, and processes on any device, from anywhere at any time.

These are just some of the advantages Crawford has seen by transforming our approach to how IT delivers business value. Using a business process management-based enterprise application platform, we have rolled out nearly 40 innovative business applications in the past four years that have changed the way Crawford works, how we engage with others, and how we deliver value.

This transformation has been about how quickly we can react to change. Crawford is the world's largest independent provider of claims management solutions to the risk management and insurance industry as well as self-insured entities. We are often operating in the aftermath of a disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake. The conditions faced by Crawford claim adjusters and repair contractors are often chaotic and unique. Regional headquarters staff has to ensure proper regulatory and licensing procedures are followed. They also must allow for the unexpected when marshalling adjusting teams effectively on a global scale to efficiently process our clients’ claims.

In such a dynamic and distributed environment, isolated and hard-to-reach data, emailed spreadsheets, phone calls, sticky notes—with a manual effort to piece it all together—simply won’t cut it. We must constantly adapt how we operate to incorporate new disruptive technologies. At the same time, we never want to lose the unique aspects of our business processes that have made us successful in the market.

Using the BPM platform, we have been able to modernize our core operations while preserving our successful processes. This has allowed us to leverage new technologies (such as mobility, social collaboration, and enterprise data management) to accelerate data collection, collaboration, and operational decision-making.

Crawford provides claims management services used by the largest insurance providers and corporations in the world. Our clients have very exacting standards for handling claims and managing related data. Moving through the complex maze of claims management effectively can literally be a matter of survival for policyholders and their businesses.

Clearly this is a considerable coordination challenge. To meet the needs of our clients’ policyholders in times of distress, it’s essential for us to deliver excellence in service quality.

The primary solution we are deploying is called Crawford Desktop Mobile. It is a collection of social and mobile business applications for managing all resources related to a particular catastrophe response. When a disaster hits, we assemble a CAT team that will use the solution to handle everything from identification and assignment of adjusters to claim filing, site assessment, fraud detection, and full claim management. As the solution name implies, it supports both desktop and mobile usage, along with a social collaboration component that keeps everyone apprised of progress.

In building Crawford Desktop and other business solutions, we chose to use a BPM-driven application platform (in our case, provided by Appian) for a number of reasons. A BPM approach accelerates delivery because it favors visual composition over code-based development. It provides the granular process control and flexibility we need to be truly nimble. It eliminates the additional cost of mobile development and maintenance through a “write once, run everywhere” architecture. And it ties social collaboration directly to the core enterprise systems and data on which our business operates.

Using our CAT Connection mobile app and geo-location, we crowd source up to several hundred adjusters to deploy, based on such attributes as their physical locations, accreditations, regional certifications, and past performance histories.  Adjusters receive and accept work assignments via the app. They also use the app to complete required forms and upload photos of a claim site directly from their mobile device. These forms then go automatically into claim processing, which includes various stages of review and reporting that result in final settlement, customer communication, and invoicing.

How effective have we been at improving efficiency with this new approach? Our previous methods required 174 points of data entry for a user. Our new system will require only 33, resulting in less effort and complexity. This huge benefit in time, efficiency and data accuracy translates to claims settling faster and insurance company customers getting prompt payments.

Innovation, Not Just Automation

This efficiency is critical for us. Crawford is focused on automating tasks, not only for cost reduction and speed, but also to increase onsite effectiveness via tablet and smartphone applications. Such automation allows leveraging analytics for insightful decision-making in the office or in the field. It also promotes Crawford’s green initiatives by enabling more of our processes to go paperless.

We want to empower Crawford employees to be change agents across the business. The BPM platform facilitates this by rapidly operationalizing new ideas as business applications. A solution suggested internally at Crawford resulted in what we call “One ’N Done,” a mobile app for rapid processing of low severity, high-volume claims. We also have an application called Dynamic Processes that allows business users to quickly compose and deploy new process flows tailored for specific client and program requirements without IT involvement.

Future-Proofing the Business

To borrow a term from poker, we are “all in” with the BPM-based approach to modern application development. In the time we’ve been using this new approach for building collaborative mobile-enhanced applications, nearly everyone at Crawford who touches any part of our processes has seen real improvement in productivity, as have our clients and partners.

More importantly, we now have a highly transparent and collaborative way of working, supported by an IT architecture that helps us sense and respond to change more quickly. With disruptive change now the norm, future-proofing is not merely helpful, it’s vital.

(Brian Flynn is the global CIO for Crawford and Company.)




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