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Issue of February 2007

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Document Management

Document management at Sahara Life Insurance

Balaram Sarma

Life insurance revolves around documents that must be checked and verified. Sahara Life Insurance (SLI) deployed a document management system to expidite this process even before the insurer signed up its first customer.

Saving time

Balaram Sarma, Chief Operating Officer of SLI informs, “Paper validation for every transaction is time consuming.” Proposals from a potential insurance applicant need to be verified and underwritten before a policy is presented. Sometimes, there is also the need for additional documents adding to the time taken. The traditional process took 15 to 20 days for each application. SLI, being new in this segment could not afford to take this much time for processing.

In Perspective

SLI wanted everything in place before it launched its operations. To speed up the validation process it decided to send only the information to its primary location at Lucknow. “We realised that sending a scanned copy to the primary location would help save time,” recalls Sarma. Additional documents and secondary papers would be sent later by post. However, the primary papers still had to be sent according to the law.

The company also wanted a process by which it would be possible to record every incoming paper form received from a policyholder. The requirements were clear—the vendor had to be able to provide the right solution and do so in a short period of time. He remarks that Newgen Software Technologies, the chosen vendor, wanted to prove itself in the software arena, while SLI wanted to prove itself in the insurance sector.

The vendor provided SLI with a solution in three parts: OmniCapture for scanning documents, OmniDocs for document management, and OmniFlow to manage automated workflow which helped SLI reduce the processing time.

Less Intervention

According to Sarma, OmniCapture has helped them scan documents with less human intervention and fewer errors. On the other hand, OmniDocs has been useful for archival, helping them preserve important documents such as policies and claims granted. Finally, OmniFlow has acted as the spine of all information that comes into the organisation through policyholders.

  • The company intends to integrate AsiaLife with the system after April 2007.
  • It is getting a good response to the system which has been fine-tuned to meet its current requirements.

IT comes first

While most organisations start operations and then look to upgrade their infrastructure, Sahara Life Insurance decided to take a different route. Sarma explains that the company commenced operations in October 2004, but the IT implementation began around July 2004. There were no phases to the implementation. “The idea was to ensure that there was a system in place which would automate document validation and workflow throughout the organisation.”

Perceived hurdles

The only problem for them was that the users were new and they had a mental block related to dealing with information on a computer rather than paper. However, this block was soon cleared, and today the users at SLI are largely satisfied. The time needed to complete paperwork has dropped to three days. Sarma furhter disclosed that the next move is to align a software called AsiaLife with existing enterprise wide applications.

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