THE PERFECT STORM

Most life insurance companies operate legacy COBOL programs. In many cases these systems date back several decades. They have been upgraded, updated, patched and changed to meet the needs of the business, customers, and changes in industry regulations. They have also been integrated and combined as life insurance companies merge and change ownership.

Problems arise when trying to understand, update, or modernise the system, as that requires good documentation. Very often that documentation is non-existent. Where it does exist it is usually patchy and incomplete.

Until recently this was manageable, or was a problem that was not recognised. This is because there were individuals in your team with knowledge of the systems, and skills in COBOL. That is a changing situation though, as the people involved in developing and managing your legacy COBOL systems are now nearing retirement, or already retired.

While it is a problem that has existed in organisations for many years, a combination of changing technologies and personnel means it is now a top priority. Without action, there may be no one in your organisation who knows exactly what your systems are doing.

This will result in a situation where the system is billing customers, making investment decisions, paying disability benefits, and paying death benefits, but there won’t be anyone who knows precisely how the algorithm is doing it. This reduces control in the present, and makes it even harder to upgrade or update the system in the future.

Take the example of a new regulation being introduced. The information is within your organisation, but it is locked inside the algorithm and your computers, and, without documentation, can’t be accessed. The risks caused by this lack of documentation are substantial:

  • Financial risk
  • Risk to your reputation
  • More difficult to respond to new regulations
  • Hampers modernisation efforts
  • Can quickly lead to a system that hasn’t kept pace with technology or consumer demands

The Solution

InsurCOBOL can solve the problem of lack of legacy system documentation in your company because we offer two crucial and uniquely-paired skills:

1.Extensive knowledge of the life insurance industry – we also have knowledge of the health insurance, pensions and annuities industries. Our key management personnel have worked in these industries for decades so understand them completely.

2. Deep knowledge of COBOL – in addition we also have extensive knowledge of many other computer languages, both procedural and object oriented. The same goes for operating systems, data bases, and other elements and structures that make up your system

We use this knowledge of the industry and relevant programming languages to read, interpret and analyse your system. Once we have a thorough understanding of your system and how it all integrates we document the algorithms. This easy to understand documentation will help you maintain the system, and make changes in the future.

Essentially we give you back control of the algorithms that are so crucial to the functioning of your business.