This is the second part of a three-part series that we hope will prove helpful in the RMIS selection process. Part 1 explained how moving from spreadsheets to RMIS can be beneficial and included some suggestions for determining if the switch to a RMIS might be warranted. In Part 3, we’ll take a look at what many cite as a major concern or roadblock when considering the move to a RMIS–implementing a new system.
Whether you’ve decided that using spreadsheets to collect, analyze, and report on risk, claims, and insurance data no longer works for your organization or you’re faced with the need to replace an existing RMIS system, choosing the right RMIS takes research and careful consideration.
The suggestions that follow are intended to help you find a solution that meets your current needs and is ready for the new challenges that will emerge as your business grows.
Who else needs to be involved?
Many organizations have internal policies and procedures in place for procurement that require the involvement of stakeholders across several departments. Some initial investigation on this front can help to prevent delays down the line. Examples include the following:
- Does your IT department have a vendor assessment process?
- If an RFP is required, does Procurement need to be involved?
- Do you have a budget? Is there a formal process in place to budget for a software purchase?
- Does Legal have experience working with SaaS vendor? Would it be helpful to give them advanced notice?
Are there other problems a RMIS can help solve?
Today, vendors provide comprehensive solutions that extend well beyond the boundaries previously associated with RMIS. Expanded functionality includes audit tools, data collection portals, third-party software integrations, mobile forms, workflow automation, and more.
When put to use, these components have a track record of success in streamlining internal operations, improving communication and collaboration, and breaking down the silos of data that commonly exist between risk management and other departments.
Including key members of departments with whom you closely work–for example, safety team members, facility managers, HR representatives, etc.–can increase the likelihood of buy-in and contribute to the successful adoption of solutions rolled out in the future.
If you’ve been involved in the process of purchasing a RMIS before, then it’s likely you’ll have some ideas when it comes to putting together a list of vendors to include in the buying process. However, when faced with the choice of an unbundled or bundled system, the number of vendors in each of those categories, and the functionality and services offered by each vendor, doing so may seem daunting for first-time RMIS buyers.
Independent buyers’ guides are a good place to start your investigation. With scoring based on RFIs submitted by vendors and more than 1,000 user survey responses, the RMIS Report assesses system-wide functionality, system attributes, customer experience, and the implementation experience of users for each vendor. Advisen’s RMIS Guide provides an overview of vendors along with a break down of product offerings that includes a side-by-side, at a glance comparison of functionality and features present in each system.
As you research potential vendors, reviewing relevant case studies, white papers, and product videos available on vendor websites can provide a sense of both the usability of various features and the versatility of the system as a whole, as well as a vendor’s ability to successfully collaborate with clients to address challenges during system implementation and the development of new features.
If you’ll be attending upcoming trade conferences, such as RIMS, NWC, or PRIMA, representatives from the vendors on your list will likely be exhibiting. This is a good opportunity to see products first-hand and get direct responses to questions you may have. To ensure that you have time to speak to the representatives on your list, vendors typically provide a way to schedule a time that doesn’t conflict with sessions you plan to attend.
What should you be looking for?
“Purchasing a Risk Management Information System”, a Risk Management Monitor article published in 2014, suggests that buyers steer clear of a “rigid RFP process with a defined set of parameters and limited detail that might leave you with insufficient information.” Instead, you’ll likely be equipped to make better decisions when “starting out with a broader conversation about needs analysis versus capabilities.”
As you interview vendors and receive tailored demonstrations of their RMIS systems, it’s important that you keep your long-term risk management goals in mind. How might a vendor help you to accomplish them?
Be sure to ask questions about how a vendor plans to support you as your needs evolve, asking “what if” questions” with the goal of forming an understanding of “what might be involved in scaling, changing, or even reconfiguring a RMIS system.”
Based on technology alone, it’s more likely that there will not be the degree of separation between your first, second, and possibly, third choices that will make the choice clear. The article advises that you carefully consider your interactions with each vendor over the course of the buying process. Does the vendor attempt to learn about your business and its unique processes? How responsive are they to your requests? Are they problem solvers?
You are, after all, choosing more than a system. The level of attention you receive during the sales process is likely to be reflective of the service you’ll receive years from now.