Your procurement process can actually be a competitive advantage. When done well, your organization adopts the right technology faster, implements it better, and drives a return on investment sooner. According to a recent procurement survey by Gartner, “improving the customer experience and operational excellence, not growth, is the driving force of a majority of insurance digitalization initiatives in 2023.” This means that companies need to evaluate an increasing number of vendors for the same problem. So, how can your company do this well?
After going through the 2023 BrokerTech Ventures cohort, The Partners Group selected ReFocus AI’s churn analytics platform for a pilot with their personal lines division. Their procurement process is a gold standard that reduced uncertainty, tied the pilot to tangible business goals, and quantified the value of the pilot for leadership.
Procurement processes are naturally complex because they involve multiple stakeholders. Competing priorities, unclear authority, and lack of budget inject uncertainty that can derail even the best procurements. The Partners Group reduced these elements by having a dedicated individual responsible for their presence at BTV Mania (BrokerTech’s two-day partner/startup conference). After qualifying the opportunities, the top ones were presented directly to the heads of the business units that would be impacted. The business units were prepared ahead of time and briefed on each startup. This was aided by having a budget already set aside for innovation. The business unit leaders then self-selected who they would work with.
- Have a pre-determined set of criteria to rate startups against (especially at BTV Mania). These objective criteria should also factor in current business needs.
- Allocate a small budget annually to test and pilot startups.
- Have business unit leaders agree ahead of time to evaluate the handful of startups you bring back to them. There should be an understanding that they will try at least one.
ReFocus AI was selected to move forward and present a Statement of Work (SoW). Not only was having a clear next step after presenting to business leaders helpful, but it also aligned both organization's sense of urgency. By presenting a SOW, The Partners Group was able to gain certainty that the pilot was aligned with their goals. It also answered crucial questions about resource needs, implementation time, and how end-users would interact with the product once it was live.
- Have a documented procurement process so everyone knows what ‘the next step’ is.
- Hash out as many knowable specifics as possible through an SoW, which reduces heartburn during implementation and production use.
- Document business goals. How can you expect startups to align themselves with your goals if you are unclear about what benefit you are trying to achieve?
To justify the budget expenditure, the head of the business unit put together a pro forma on the opportunity, the cost, and the expected benefit. This was presented to executive leadership, who were able to approve the pilot within the preauthorized budget quickly. Assembling a pro forma as an internal company document should be a standard practice. There are two chasms of innovation: 1) evaluating companies and creating a shortlist and 2) Engaging executive leadership for approval of the effort. The second occurs when the expected value cannot be quantified. The Partners Group eliminated that concern by tying the cost directly to the benefit. By determining that even a 0.5% improvement in retention would pay for the effort, the business made it easy for its executives to buy into the project.
- Document the cost and expected value. Use this to get executive buy-in.
- Understand the process to get the final ‘okay’ to move forward. If you don’t have one, make one.
- Be clear on the ROI needed to justify a change. This will support narrowing down the list of potential companies to work with.
Overall, ReFocus AI completed the procurement process with The Partners Group in under three months. Applying these key lessons will help your company get faster at procuring the right technology. Being more agile through technology is why BrokerTech Ventures exists; don’t let your procurement process hold you back.