Do not underestimate the complexity, confusion, and inconvenience associated with selecting an agency management system.
…by working through a few simple thought experiments during the agency management system selection you might be able to avoid the majority of frustration normally associated with the process.
Watch The Inside 006 for a detailed breakdown of the thought experiments and selection process I’m using to choose my first agency management system.
Here are agency managements systems I’m considering at the time of creating this video:
How to Pick Your First Agency Management System
Every independent insurance agency is a unique snowflake. I believe this to be true without a doubt.
This means there is no one-size-fits-all process or solution when it comes to agency management systems.
However, the process below (and described in the video above) outlines a set of simple thought experiments you can walk through in order to pick your first (or next) agency management system (AMS).
1) Balance Now vs Future Need
This is the first thought experiment for a reason, it establishes the top-level guidelines for what you need your AMS to day-one versus what you’d like it to do when your agency is up to full speed.
As explained in the video, the delta between your need now and your need in the future is where the majority of friction in selecting an AMS is generated.
If you’re a scratch or start-up agency, heavily weight your needs now over future needs.
2) Open vs Closed System
There are bare-bone agency management systems built to connect with other products to add functionality (open systems) and AMS built to contain all functionality within their own solution (closed systems).
Neither system is wrong and both have pros and cons. What’s important is you understand how the differences translate to your needs.
If you’re a scratch or start-up agency, strongly consider an open system so you have the option to integrate lightweight, inexpensive tools.
3) Minimal vs Broad System
Minimal systems restrict your ability to customize how the system operates, while broad systems are wide open for customization.
If you’re a scratch or start-up agency, strongly consider minimalist systems. The last thing you want is to spend an exorbitant amount of time customizing your AMS when you need to be selling.
4) Price Matters
Obviously, every agency management system has a different cost structure. Cash management should always be a priority.
If you’re a scratch or start-up agency, strongly consider keeping expenses a low as possible with a system that still meets your (heavily weighted) short-term goals, while setting you up for long-term growth as much as possible.
5) Ask Who Else Is Using the AMS?
Workgroups are important to your success. This is an easy-to-overlook-aspect of choosing a technology solution like an agency management system.
Not all AMS have workgroups. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider choosing an AMS. Ask who else is using the system?
If you’re a scratch or start-up agency, consider choosing a system used by respected, peer agencies built in a fashion similar to your vision.
It’s important to remember that every agency will work through these thoughts experiments differently.
Do what is right for your agency. Not what is popular
Then make a decision and move forward. Don’t look back. Get to work.
You have many more decisions to make.
UPDATE: Below are additional questions to ask yourself when choosing an agency management system submitted by Patrick Kelahan on LinkedIn.
- Why do you need an agency management system? Once these many reasons are listed, will a respective AMS do (most) of those things?
- What do you expect an AMS will do? What’s the best thing a particular AMS does, and what doesn’t it do well?
- What interactions with other pros with whom you work will the AMS need to facilitate, e.g., accountant, financial products partner, marketing person?
- Does the AMS deal with internal or external audits well (how transparent are the AMS’ functions)?
- How adaptable to APIs (or future tech tools) is the AMS?
- Will new producers need to spend more time learning the AMS system than they do learning the insurance business?
- If the insurance admin world changes next year- how adaptable are the data in the AMS to future systems? Some thoughts for what they are worth.
Frank Sentner, who founded and developed the Sagitta AMS, added you should, “insist on being given reference agencies that are as similar to your firm as possible and physically visit those agencies to talk face-to-face to the folks on the front-line using that system.”