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When insurance carriers undertake the process of upgrading critical IT systems, project timelines can drag on for years. Such a long project not only is disruptive and daunting, but also poses considerable risks. An analysis of a Gartner survey on the root cause of failed IT projects indicates, “[B]y ensuring that projects are kept small, and as a rule of thumb, not exceeding six months in duration, a much lower failure rate can be achieved.”

What contributes to longer implementations?

While every implementation faces a unique set of challenges, there are several common factors that can push out the go-live date.


A multi-vendor architecture, layered with isolated legacy systems and a patchwork approach to quick fixes, breeds a complex environment where any change may be difficult. The Cognizant white paper Reducing IT Complexity to Accelerate Digital Business notes, “IT complexity has become a critical imperative — requiring businesses to fundamentally rewire and simplify their IT estate.”

Unfortunately, in such an environment, individual units may try to push forward independently in an attempt to find some improved functionality. These rogue efforts can lead to conflicting goals and a lack of coordination that further increases the complexity of the project. “IT complexity is a multi-dimensional problem that cannot be addressed with isolated initiatives,” the white paper warns.

Looking backward

When timelines stretch past the 1-year mark, organizations often wrestle with extended periods during which employees must continue working in the old legacy system, while simultaneously using its replacement. These concurrent solution approaches, however, can lengthen timelines considerably. A TEAM Software white paper notes, “This practice can be detrimental to the effort, causing the implementation period to go on longer than initially planned.”

Additionally, when faced with long implementations, many organizations opt for cobbled together integrations and workarounds in an effort to minimize the potential disruption to clients. Instead of looking forward and focusing on the potential of the new solution, considerable resources are dedicated to single-use projects that incorporate the legacy system. Spending this type of effort on a “disposable” solution only adds to delayed timelines and longer periods of overlapping systems.

Efforts designed to increase this “dual life” phase, either by clinging to legacy systems or by trying to replicate, in the new system, a bad process from the old one, risk needlessly pushing out end dates. A dual-life period creates a chaotic and stressful environment for staff, threatens to tarnish the customer experience, and has the potential to impact the organization’s objectives. Minimizing exposure to this condition is a critical factor in reducing implementation risk.

Relying on customization instead of configuration

Customization and configuration are often used interchangeably; there are critical differences between them. Customization entails developers writing code to adapt a system to meet the needs of an individual customer. This approach is highly expensive, time-intensive (as every new addition needs to be thoroughly tested and adjusted), and prone to scope creep. Configuration, on the other hand, allows end-users to personalize a standard base system in a way that meets their organization’s needs.

Solutions that rely heavily on customizations create lengthier implementation cycles and often replicate the same complex, difficult-to-change environment that inspired the system switch in the first place.

Additional impacts of long implementations

While the risks associated with implementations lasting more than a year are cause for concern, the opportunity costs may be even greater. These costs include:

  • Dedicated resources trapped in projects
  • Strategic focus shifted to implementation challenges/progress monitoring
  • Continuing outdated processes/procedures because the “new” method is too far away

Your organization needs to focus on competing for the next client, and delivering the level of performance your existing clients demand. Every resource dedicated to implementation is one less focused on your core business. The longer this continues, the bigger the drain on your operations. This adds yet another level of issues on top of the challenges that complex system implementations can bring on their own.

The single platform alternative

Single platform solutions directly address many of the root causes that contribute to lengthy implementation. The integrated, modular approach of a single platform solution like Origami Risk centralizes data, simplifies procedures, and greatly reduces IT complexity. By shortening the steps required to reach the end goal, the system remains forward-looking and avoids unnecessary interim stages. Additionally, highly flexible and intuitive configuration options eliminate the need for resource-draining customization that requires a team of developers.

A proven approach that works by design

Origami Risk has a track record of producing shorter implementations than most vendors. The benefits of a single platform architecture combined with a process design that is battle tested, consistent, and efficient yields compact timelines. This approach also delivers:

  • Configurations and an implementation path designed around your organizational needs instead of the other way around
  • Fast, hands-on feedback, instead of waiting for endless customization cycles to finish
  • Critical insights that allows your organization to make informed, strategic choices about the best path forward

The keys to shortening implementations, and reducing the headaches associated with implementations that drag out longer than a year, are found in attacking complexity, avoiding the “dual life” phase as much as possible, and eliminating customization cycles. With its single-platform solution, Origami Risk can help streamline operations and design processes that better fit your organization’s unique environment.

Get in touch with us today to find out how a single platform approach could make your implementation far less risky.