When two longstanding family-owned brokers came together in 2013 to form LHK Insurance, there was, as with many new merged businesses, a natural period of time for the merger to settle down. Once both businesses became established on a solid footing, the newly combined management team was keen to get a regular and accurate high-level overview of the business.
That’s easy to say but not so easy to do. Brokers have traditionally struggled to achieve that kind of accurate and timely reporting of key management information [MI]. Graham Hohn, Director at LHK, explained the situation at the time. “Like most brokers, we found it difficult to accurately and regularly compare, analyse, disseminate and act on current figures. We needed to get the required reports at the click of a button to know where we are as a business month by month, year on year against budgets,” he said.
Before joining forces, the firms LHW General Insurance and M J Kelleher Insurance of Dublin and Drogheda respectively had been using two separate software systems to manage their businesses.
When LHK Insurance was formed over four years ago, the directors decided to change their respective broker software systems to a brand new single system. Over the following months, both offices transferred policy and customer information. “We had to build a reliable and accurate MI platform in order to drive the merged business forward starting from a solid base,” explained Hohn.
However, although the new software had achieved many advantages – including saving administrative time – it was proving cumbersome to get accurate management information to provide the high-level view of the business in a timely manner. The new system is capable of generating reports, but it took too long to extrapolate the necessary information.
LHK engaged with SureSkills, an Irish-owned provider of technology, knowledge and learning solutions, to harness the necessary data to produce visual reports that would drive a better view of the business. SureSkills recommended PowerBI, a business analytics service from Microsoft that enables businesses to customise reports to get at the key information they need to run their business. “This turns your statistics into a living, breathing, organic view of your business,” said Greg Meagher, Business Intelligence Consultant and project leader for SureSkills’ Consulting and Solutions division.
With PowerBI, brokers can decide on the presentation style of the report, and how the information is displayed in a dashboard format. “There’s no need to manually redesign the reports every month,” said Meagher. “The key to a successful BI solution is how you map, model and streamline your reporting data structures and processes. Reporting should be an exercise in refresh, not redesign.”
This has reduced the time needed to compile reports, from two days of effort to a minute and a half – all achieved with a few clicks of a mouse.
LHK Insurance plans to continue expanding its business. With regular monthly reports, the company’s management has the information at hand to drive business decisions. “We wanted to know more about the business every month, as opposed to every quarter. PowerBI is a valuable business tool to have because it gives us information at our fingertips, which is key if you want to know where your business is in real time” said Hohn.
Using PowerBI, LHK can quickly see figures from many different angles. Figures can be split into new business, growth in existing business, and cancellations. Furthermore, it can accurately split the figures between the various insurers which also include classes of business and types of policies by gross written premium and commission. Having this kind of detail in an easily digestible format has changed the relationship with insurers. “I can talk to them about our business, as distinct from waiting for them to come and talk to me. It drives a different conversation with insurers; we can see how much and what type of business our firm is giving that company, what we are earning from them, and how it compares to other providers,” said Hohn.
Faster access to information also drives different conversations within the LHK team. Because the reports are much more frequent, the firm can quickly spot any trends, both good and bad. This creates opportunities to deliver staff training along with monthly catch-up discussions. “We can be more proactive in our decision making and actions,” said Hohn.
Ros Scally, Operations Executive at LHK Insurance, praised SureSkills for its approach to the project. “SureSkills served as terrific partners in this project which has immensely improved our financial reporting efficiencies. The project leader demonstrated a high standard of professionalism and technical competence,” she said.