Page 5: Identifying the problems
The technical team was responsible for ensuring the necessary computer hardware, software, systems and networks were in place for APACHE. The design and build team helped to build the system in readiness for the first users. Transferring from old processes to new technology was never going to be easy. It involved cleansing records and handling old data, as well as live and open records of information. It also meant that, for a time, the old and new systems would have to be run together.
Although the early problems encountered with using the new system were solvable, there was heavy dependence on the external experts. Some problems were not so obvious, such as the delay time for a file to appear on screen. This delay (of approximately 45 seconds) was, of course, an improvement on the old system when staff had to walk to a filing cabinet, find the appropriate file and then return to their desk. However, it was felt that a delay time of 45 seconds for the new technology was not acceptable.
The major problem of the new system was unforeseeable by those at Independent Insurance. The aim had been to allow 1,000 employees access to the system. The roll out plan was to increase the numbers of people using the system gradually until it reached 1,000. However, at 500 users, the system was unable to cope. The roll out plan, therefore, had to be delayed until the supplier was able to solve this problem and upgrade the hardware. The resulting seven month delay caused many problems with staff who began to question the project. This was a key stage in the process of implementing APACHE which caused Independent Insurance to re-evaluate the whole project. As a result, it was decided not to rely too heavily on external experts, but for Independent Insurance’s own staff to take more ownership of the system and its associated problems. This involved greater emphasis on retraining, communication and making the system more user-friendly.
Identifying the benefits
It was difficult to measure the benefits of the new system for Independent Insurance immediately after its implementation. It was important that the system not only served the needs of the users but that it would also be technically efficient and reliable. As users became familiar with the system, it was clear that there were many quantifiable benefits, such as improved efficiency and productivity. The system also freed staff from mundane administration tasks, allowing them to concentrate on more interesting aspects of work.