Rugby and workflow software – similar strategies?

In the next few days, fans from all over the world will be watching the Rugby World Cup Finals. Among them, many of my insurance customers – who have traditionally been sponsors of major sporting events like the rugby finals – will be in attendance.

Personally, I am trying to learn more about the sport, so if I get the chance to go, I will be able to talk intelligently about the game with them. To prepare, I viewed my first rugby game and watched in fascination as the Kiwis beat Argentina. It was exciting, especially because I was with a couple of my New Zealand customers who were patiently teaching me aspects of the game as they cheered their team on to victory.

Flexibility: the key to success in rugby and insurance

“Unlike American football, rugby does not rely on pre-defined plays,” writes Angela Druckman. “A team may have a strategy they hope to use, but that can quickly be put aside by an interception or blocked kick. The ball stays in play much longer than a typical football play, so rugby teams must constantly be ready to adapt.”

Starting to understand the basics of the game, it made me draw a parallel to workflow software: configurable sets of rules and actions that can be put into play quickly to help insurers manage their business process today, but flexible and agile enough to be able to make changes to adapt to their ever-changing market environment – without disruption to the business or costly change management fees.

Also similar to the way that insurance companies operate, in rugby, teams must work as a unit and use their judgment on a moment-by-moment basis to weigh risks and opportunities in an effort to outmaneuver their opponents.

I continued to draw parallels with rugby and my work experience, noting how workflow provides the ability for parallel or simultaneous processing. As it gathers the required information, the solution can automatically ensure that all the information is current and available to the various business units that must cohesively work together to assess the risk to issue the policy or pay a claim. Just like rugby players!

Flexibility: the key to “the scrum”

I watched in fascination as I got to witness a “scrum,” which in this case is not the agile methodology that we use to deliver most of our projects to our insurance customers, but in fact where the term originated from. I learned that a scrum is how the play in rugby gets restarted after a minor infringement. It involves up to eight players from each team, known as the pack or forward pack, binding together in three rows and interlocking with the free opposing team’s forwards.

At this point, a referee feeds the ball into the gap between the two forward packs and they both compete for the ball to win possession. Many players have broken their necks during this process. I am glad that doesn’t happen at our daily scrum meetings for our customers’ projects!

I also learned that passing is allowed, but only in the form of a reverse lateral. The ball can never be passed forwards, but players can run forwards with the ball or kick the ball forward to chase it down. Facing penalty or losing yards could mean losing the game!

Similarly, insurers must tightly manage internal controls to ensure compliance, and often time face fines or worse for noncompliance. Great! I am starting to get the concepts of the game! It is like using ECM and workflow to manage the business process, ensuring that processes are followed. This  helps insurers reduce the risks associated with compliance and make sure that the right team has the right information at the right time.

This rugby stuff is a piece of cake! There are so many similarities to the strategies I help insurers build every day that I am confident I can remember the main aspects of the game when I am with customers to watch the semi-finals!

Ruth Fisk has more than 25 years of experience working within the insurance industry and is a foremost expert on the practical application of EDMS technology. In her role as Global Director for Insurance at Hyland, she has travelled to more than 90 countries helping insurance organizations to successfully reduce operating expenses, increase efficiency, and positively impact their bottom lines.

Ruth Fisk

Ruth Fisk has more than 25 years of experience working within the insurance industry and is a foremost expert on the practical application of EDMS technology. In her role as... read more about: Ruth Fisk