Total re-engineering has won out over the reuse of old systems at merged insurance company IAG in New Zealand.
Project Endeavour, a redevelopment based on a tailored version of the UK-originated Sirius system and originating from the State Insurance side of the company, will press ahead.
Earlier this year there was some question as to whether the Endeavour project from the State Insurance — briefly known as NRMA NZ — side of the company or the systems used by merger partner NZI would prevail. The latter, some sources suggested, would be more suitable to the wider range of insurance products the merged company would handle.
“Sirius is the new core application and we’ll start rolling it out later this year,” says CIO Catherine Rusby. First it will be in the hands of IAG’s direct channel and subsequently it will be rolled out to the company’s resellers in banks and brokers.
The project is expected to be complete by the middle of next year — “or that’s our target, anyway”, she says.
“This is full business re-engineering,” Rusby says. “We won’t be taking any of the functionality from the three old systems” — the former State Insurance’s Policy Plus and Datarich, or NZI’s Polisy.
The chief appeal of Sirius is that it is fully integrated and uses open technology, by which Rusby means Microsoft platforms.
The system will be based on Windows 2000 and SQL Server on an Intel-based IBM hardware platform, says IT&T strategy and architecture manager David Bakker.
“We will be looking at moving to Windows Server 2003 soonish.”
Citrix will be the vehicle for delivering applications to the desktop.
Considerable tailoring will be required to suit the system to the New Zealand style of business. This tailoring, however, has been purchased from Sirius’s creators as part of the “total package”. A variety of factors, from different interfaces with banks through the presence of ACC to the necessity to evaluate earthquake risk, make an NZ insurance system unique, Bakker says.
The Australian offices of IAG use an entirely different system, known as Huon, which runs on an IBM mainframe. ”Insurance is a national market,” says Bakker, and markets are different enough and separable enough to run IT systems that may not be compatible.
The organisation has, meanwhile, sorted out its new structure following consultation with staff. “New” roles have been defined and those whose job content has materially changed will be asked to reapply for one of those new roles. There will be some shrinkage in staff numbers as a result, but Rusby expects this hardly, if at all, to affect IT. “At the moment, we probably need more help [than under the old systems]. We’ll be providing support for the current systems, merging two processor and network infrastructures and developing and rolling out the new systems.”
Both merging organisations make considerable use of contractors, she says, and the number of those may be run down in the longer term.