Everything seems to be about optimisation at the moment. Across many different business sectors, and particularly in insurance, everywhere you go people are talking about workbenches.
For organisations undergoing big implementation programmes to migrate several different tools and platforms to a single, unified platform, workbenches undoubtedly have their uses. However, the reality is that a process which is likely to cost a lot of money, and which can throw up multiple challenges around data migration and security(adding further development costs) will ultimately just result in changing the front end of your organisation’s system in order to create a better user experience.
I would question, therefore, whether some of the workbenches that businesses are implementing are really worth the investment in time and money. To my mind, the glaring omission from most of these projects is the consideration of the user journey and the user experience at the start of the process.
Don’t forget UX/UI
The user experience/user interface (UX/UI) aspect of workflows often gets missed in implementation processes, typically because organisations balk at the cost at the front end of the project to address UX/UI.
Inevitably, as costs build over the lifetime of a big-budget project, by the time the product owners get their shiny new front end and workbench, there’s little appetite to add further costs for re-designing the UX/UI.
But consider the consequences for business adoption across a global organisation planning to implement a new workbench across multiple countries. If the organisation hasn’t got the pilot right in its home country and is now attempting to roll it out to other territories, it could experience pushback from teams in other locations who are struggling to see any benefit in the new system - precisely because the user experience and interface hasn’t improved.
That kind of internal conflict can be costly. The original sign-off on investment in the new process and platform would have relied on its benefits being realised only if the programme is carried out at scale, with optimisation and consolidation across all areas of the business. Instead, what the organisation could end up with is a costly white elephant that nobody wants to implement.
As business units from the front end to the back office increasingly become digitally enabled, the purpose of any optimisation programme is to give employees the right tools to do their jobs better. Making the user experience smoother and easier helps your workforce become more effective and enables different teams and offices to interact seamlessly.
However, our view is that if organisations allocate more upfront investment to assessing the user experience, improving the interface, and training users to use it, they will ultimately deliver something to users that not only genuinely works better, but also supports what the business is trying to do.
Before embarking on a global IT programme to consolidate systems at a cost of tens of millions of pounds, therefore, organisations would do well to take a step back, map their current systems, and assess what they currently use and how successful the interface is, before considering what they really need from the programme and how it will benefit the user experience.
Re-designing the front end
Spending more time focusing on the front end will involve more upfront investment. If organisations are not prepared to factor in those costs before launching into an implementation programme, they are likely to spend more money on the back end on remediation, testing and re-working.
The pay-off is that re-designing the front end should make users more effective, due to the improved UK/UI, meaning they can spend more time working on things that add real value. And if your front office is more efficient, and is using data more effectively, that flows through the entire organisation, potentially leading to better strategic decisions.