Setting up DWH in an Insurance company from scratch

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   Exchange experiences:
 Starting an Insurance Data
Warehouse… from “scratch”

         P&V group
         - 01/10/2009 -
         Jan Strauven
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P&V group     – Background

  – P&V group
     • Belgian, cooperative insurance company
     • Philosophy
         A “different” insurance company
            with direct & personal contact
            and solidarity as its main purpose
     • Subsidiaries:

     • Some facts & figures:
         –   : ± 1.850 FTE
         – Premium Life 2008: 821.240 k€
         – Premium non-Life 2008: 656.356 k€
         – 2007: + ING Insurance = x2
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P&V group           – DWH/BI @ P&V

  – Why DWH/BI @ P&V group
     • Integration of back-office systems and reporting
          – due to take-overs
     • Information as
          – a competitive weapon
          – an answer to the crisis
     • More efficient production of information
     • Legal obligations
          – Solvency II, IFRS
  – Timeline (what have we done up ‘till now)
     •   Q4   ‘08   - SAS selected as target DWH/BI environment for the group
     •   Q2   ‘09   - Installation & set-up
     •   Q3   ‘09   - Roadmap en Scope
     •   Q4   ‘09   - First pilot project results
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Approach     - 10x Share our Thoughts (SoT)…

  – Competing truths
      • More or less a black and white approach
          – I apologize up front to those who cannot appreciate such an
  – Opinions
  – “Effective” solutions
      • …according to us (P&V situation, personal
        problem management approach (PPMA))
      • Based on “horse sense”
          – remember: our DWH/BI experience is quite low
      • Based on experience in other
  – Group discussion
      • if manageable and constructive/useful/positive
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SoT 1    - IT tech project or Business owned project?

  – Major benefit = Data → Information
        – Who should own the data (and thus who should own the
          Data Warehouse)?
           – One answer: Business!
  – But balance between:
        1. Group level (federation) vs. business unit level
        2. Technology
  – Split project into 2 distinct parts,
    technical and business part
        • Business lingo versus
          IT speech
        • Different viewpoints,
          different benefits
  – Market business project as the most important part, but
    make sure that technical setup, standards, methodology
    are setup upfront and vital guardian tasks are operational
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SoT 2    - Start from scratch or build from existing…

  – We did have some DWH history and
    experience, but started the project as if
    from “scratch”
        • Everybody’s project
        • Each viewpoint or department has equal
        • Try to minimize an “I’m better than you”
  – Avoid a patchwork approach trying to
    combine the best of all worlds
        • “Best of all worlds” approach tends to
          deliver “Worst of all worlds mix”
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SoT 3    - 2 project managers… can this work?

  – Yes!
  – But avoid polarization
        • Try to find Business PM with IT/PM experience
        • Try to find IT PM with Business feel
        • Try to find matching characters
  – In our case (Business driven project), create a 51/49
    voting system for conflicting decisions
        • Business: 51%, IT: 49%

             Source: Fitzgerald, Donna. “Q&A: Can a Project Succeed With Both a Business and an IT Project Manager?”
                                                                      Gartner Research G00155052, 1 February 2008
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SoT 3 continued
–   Diane Schellens                       –   Jan Strauven
            –               –
     • Programme Manager DWH                   • Integration Manager
     • Head of Accounting                      • IT upbringing, with a strong
     • Broad experience in both                  focus on Business/IT
       Business and IT                           alignment

         Business PM                                   IT PM
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SoT 4    - How to avoid garbage inheritance

  – Do not allow any non structured data or not agreed upon
    data/definitions in your DWH
  – We created 2 environments, one for the unstructured
    “garbage” data (copy/past of the current way-of-working)
    and the other to create the P&V DWH
        • Of course we did not call this the
          Garbage environment, but used
          the politically correct term “Sandbox”
        • Recurring/critical reports/analysis
          will be listed, obligation to move
          to the “real” DWH is already
          in place
        • Allow no easy link between “clean”
          DWH environment and “dirty”
          Sandbox environment
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SoT 5    - How to create buy-in for a project with a mainly qualitative
business case…
          • Especially in crisis time!

     – “Burning Platform” approach?
          • Make sure you’ll be able to extinguish
            the inflicted fire
     – “Silver Bullet” approach?
          • But for credibility’s sake…
            make sure your first shot hits
            the mark
     – We did both…
          • Result: high involvement & visibility
            but extremely high expectations
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SoT 6     - If starting small, how to guard the big picture... if starting big,
will you ever implement...?
     – Think large, start small
               – We stole this one from Laco (see SoT 10)!
     – Major advantages = realistic, digestible chunks; delivery
       every half year
     – Biggest challenge = avoid silos
          • Make sure to involve everyone
               – Also those who will not start before phase 8, 19, 105, …
          • Use a (preferably predefined) model as stepping stone &
            identifying mark
               – We will use the SAS Insurance Model for this
          • Install centralized discussion and decision forum for common
            definitions and structure from the very start
               – Powerful steering at group level to overrule if need be
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SoT 7    - For starters.. use very “visible” but “easy” projects

  – Visible = core business, important KPI’s
        • In our case non-Life insurance,
          Combined Loss/Expense ratio KPI
  – Easy = enthusiastic business partners, enough knowledge
    and capacity on systems, reporting needs, tools and such
    and NO political risks
        – In our case non-Life insurance and Commercial Reporting

                          Combined Loss/Expense ratio
                              measures claims losses
                  and operating expenses against premiums earned
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SoT 8    - Principles or Result

        • aka “be Intelligent or be Smart”
  – DWH/BI can become some sort of intellectual plaything
    for super analysts
        • If this is what drives your business, fine then, but else…
  – An extremely complete, fantastic, exemplary, beautiful,
    theoretically perfect DWH is worth nothing if it is not used
        • Again, think big but act small
            – Do not take hasty decisions
              that block future
            – Do not implement
              (or at least do not
              possibilities that have
              no clear added value
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SoT 9    - Do it yourself or use consultancy... the answer is “yes”

  – Why SAS?
        • In-house knowledge, Gartner's magical quadrant, already a
          long time relationship, features & functionality, great account
          manager, …

  – Why Laco? – Johan Vranckx
        • Great match with our own view on how to do it, pragmatic
          but still complete approach, Laco makes it possible for us to
          stay in control, great consultants (mix business knowledge
          and technical know-how), think along, …

  – Why Alfea? – Eddy Volcher
        • Very flexible, think along, propose alternatives, make it
          possible for us to stay in control, great consultants, have
          next to SAS experience also expertise in EDM and are Gold
          partner of Alfresco, can help us in linking DWH/BI with EDM,
          independent advice, …
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SoT 9   continued

Scope, Logical Model, Roles &   Infrastructure & Installation,
  Responsibilities,                Parameterization, Migration
  Methodology, Conventions, …      processes, Security setup, …

     Business support                    IT support
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SoT 10+      - Some final thoughts, pitfalls and other stuff

  – Communication is key
      • How to make sure everyone is on the same level?
  – Is everyone aligned? Are the goals common ones?
      • Hidden agendas
      • Protectionism
          • DWH can be too transparent…
  – Magical solution for mergers/application integration
  – What with SLA's
      • On availability, quality,
        speed, capacity, ...?
      • Externalization?
  – Data warehouse growth
      • Can you cap this without
        capping user satisfaction?

     Source: Moncla, Brenda. “DWH: Managing your Most Valued Asset.” Information Management Magazine,November 1998
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