For the SunLife agents to be successful the accumulated experience and knowledge in the company need to be captured, and applied to the sales cycles and ongoing customer relationships. This is another major gap that is in the approach the company is taking with the implementation of Maestro today as well. SunLife is not taking into account the deep expertise and knowledge within the company to streamline and make more efficient the selling process, and as a result the resistance to change on the part of agents just increases over time. They fail to see the value of making any significant shift in how they view new technologies to help them sell more effectively or continually be trusted advisors over time.
SunLife has an exceptionally strong grasp of technologies and their contributions to each aspect of the insurance sales, account management and risk management aspects of the insurance industry. Several times in the case study the point is made that SunLife Canada senior management sees IT as a strategic weapon. This commitment to technology is exemplified in the extensive level of investment in high-end mainframe computers including the IBM 3093 in corporate headquarters, and the investment in IBM System 36 minicomputers throughout the branches. There is also evident in the millions of dollars spent on the Advanced Life Insurance Systems (ALIS) mainframe-based core record-keeping system and the Agent Micro Systems (AMS) is the low-end CRM application running on agent's PCs. The investment in Maestro further shows a willingness on the part of senior management to continually seek the competitive advantages of IT in their business.
Analyzing Maestro Using the Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC)
The Systems Development Lifecycle (SDLC) is comprised of the phases of systems initiation, system requirements analysis, system design, system construction, system acceptance and systems implementation (Worthington, 2001). The underlying concept of the SDLC is to continually seek to align user needs and requirements with the current state of technologies and systems an organization is attempting to transform into a competitive advantage (Levasseur, 2011). The Maestro initiative however is being launched more as an IT accomplishment, less as a means to assist the sales team in being more effective. The lukewarm response IT is getting from the sales force emanates from the fact that their core process areas including quoting, policy creation, policy maintenance and the sales of more complex services are still not automated or streamline to their requirements and needs. Further, the SFDLC components of Voice of the Customer (VoC) have been completely bypassed as the company rushes to get the benefits of Maestro yet does not take into account the needs of the sales teams. It's as if the senior management at SunLife is pushing to gain the advantages of the technology without focusing on what matters most, which is making sure the systems will be usable and actually improve sales performance over the long-term. These aspects of the System Design, System Construction, and System Acceptance stages of the SDLC have been completely overlooked as a result. Due to these shortcomings the company will continue to only see lukewarm response from its sales teams.
The SunLife Canada case illustrates just how critical change management is in the context of new technology adoption and the implementation of systems using the SDLC process. The need for continually creating systems that align to how people work is by far more important than just purchasing software for the sake of increasing productivity. Too much attention on software and not enough on productivity leads companies to inevitably automate mediocrity over time instead of getting the productivity gains they are looking for. SunLife needs to re-evaluate how they are managing this process and bring in the user's needs first and foremost in order to see better results. .
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