Milliman Improves Its Document ManagementBy William Atkinson
By William Atkinson
With revenues of $723 million in 2011, Milliman is one of the world's largest providers of actuarial and related products and services. It offers consulting practices in employee benefits, health-care, investment, life insurance and financial services, and sells property and casualty insurance. Based in Seattle, the company has 2,700 employees working in 60 offices, 12 of which are outside of the U.S.
As a financial consulting firm, Milliman regards the judicious handling of documents and the proper storage of records as vitally important.
The business units at Milliman are independent, but IT supports all of them. This structure makes it important for Milliman to standardize and automate its business processes in order to maximize efficiency and reduce overhead support costs. In addition, because "documents are the business" at Milliman, it is crucial that the company create an efficient document workflow that ensures the documents are properly reviewed, stored, documented and indexed for search.
"Our business depends on the ability to accurately and efficiently manage actuarial document workflow for clients," says Sid Siegel, director, corporate applications and finance IT. "So, judicious handling of documents and proper storage of records is a key business requirement."
As part of these processes, important documents need to be peer-reviewed according to a strict review process. At the end of the multistep review process, the documents are converted to records. After 60 days, the entire document trail is deleted. However, mandated metadata must be retained for auditing purposes.
In addition, because much of Milliman’s business is conducted via e-mail, it is important to be able to save e-mail messages for future potential retrieval. In addition, individual consultants want to be able to decide which of their emails are saved.
Milliman originally used a Notes infrastructure for e-mail and document management. More recently, it adopted SharePoint as its document management system. Since integration of e-mail and document management is core to the company's business, Milliman contracted a systems integrator to integrate Notes e-mail with SharePoint. However, the integrator’s solution was untenable.
Milliman next reviewed four vendors, and selected harmon.ie, particularly because of the e-mail and metadata capabilities that it provides. "Several factors led us to select harmon.ie over other vendors with similar offerings," says Siegel. "It met our business needs, it had a good value/price point, it offered great responsiveness from sales and technical teams, and it offered a great ability to control deployment and configuration of the tool as well as customize it if needed."
With harmon.ie, when a consultant completes a draft of a document, the consultant uses a "Send to Save" feature to automatically insert the document into a temporary repository. The consultant is prompted to supply the name of the next reviewer of the document from a pre-populated list of names. When the designated reviewer receives notification that a document is waiting for review, the reviewer opens the document and acknowledges receipt of the document. When the reviewer is completed with the review process and checks the document back in, it gets routed to the next reviewer in a similar fashion. Once the review process is complete, the last reviewer stores it in its final location, whereupon it becomes a record. The temporary document is deleted after 60 days, but its metadata are retained for audit purposes.
Improved E-mail Integration
Additional e-mail integration features of harmon.ie allow documents and e-mails to be saved in one location on Milliman's intranet, which reduces the amount of time required to search for paired documents, such as files and their related e-mails.
The manual process of storing and routing an e-mail message used to take five minutes. Now, the e-mail process is done instantaneously. In addition, the process is automated, so users don't need to think about or bother with it. "By making e-mail and document storage in SharePoint part of the regular work routine,” says Siegel, “harmon.ie has been a boon for our highly trained and experienced consultants, who need to focus on their jobs, not on document management."