Key Themes From the Agile Special Interest Group: Cloud, Hybrid, and MVPs

Key Themes From the Agile Special Interest Group: Cloud, Hybrid, and MVPsOn Tuesday, November 1st, I hosted the Insurance practice’s Agile Special Interest Group with my colleague, Aite-Novarica Group Senior Principal Martin Higgins. Special Interest Group sessions are exclusive opportunities for Aite-Novarica Group Insurance practice clients and Insurance Technology Research Council members to review recent trends and relevant research, share knowledge, and learn from peer experiences.

We started by spotlighting emerging trends in the industry, with a focus on how organizations are balancing remote work and return-to-office rules as well as the continued growth of cloud technology. Then we dove into a long discussion about organizations’ challenges and successes with rolling out minimum viable products (MVPs). I’ve compiled key takeaways from these two topics below.

Emerging Trends: Dramatic Shifts Impacting the Insurance Industry

Insurers are facing a great deal of change, including shake-ups in the economy, regulatory chaos, supply chain disruptions, and natural disasters. Organizations also continue to face challenges with resources as turnover rates remain high for the insurance industry. Many organizations are continuing to allow employees to work remotely or have transitioned to a hybrid work model. The feedback we received from Special Interest Group participants was that most organizations are allowing their employees to work from home at least a few days a week. Those with stricter return-to-office rules are finding employee turnover to be a challenge.

The technology environment continues to change, with the growth of third-party data sources and increasing security threats. Cloud technology continues to grow, and migration to the cloud is not slowing down at all. Platforms are becoming predominantly cloud-based; carriers and others continue to transition on-premises platforms to cloud and create new capabilities natively in the cloud. We haven’t heard of any new solutions created on-premises.

What all these shifts mean is that looking in the rearview mirror won’t prepare insurers for the future. These are unprecedented times, and insurance leadership that we have spoken to don’t have all the answers. This points to the need to be more agile, fail quickly and try something else quickly, and explore different strategies.

How to Execute the Minimum Viable Product

The second half of our meeting focused on challenges and successes with the MVP model. The MVP is about speed to value, which is one of the major benefits of Agile, but poor execution of this model has resulted in MVP getting a bad name. Our meeting attendees shared their experiences with the MVP.

One attendee shared, “We struggle with this concept. Our MVP conversations come as we are getting closer to our release date—we can’t get everything done by this date, so what’s our MVP? We should be having that conversation at the beginning, then make the decision if it is good enough to release. Business and IT still think for it to be done it has to be the full product. It’s a mindset shift.”

Introducing the concept of MVP when you’re getting close to release is the wrong time. Introduce it early on. Create an understanding of what an MVP is, with clear guidelines for how it is defined, and make sure the business stakeholders are at the table. The MVP works best when it is guided by the business team itself. However, setting expectations with the business brings about its own challenges.

As one attendee shared, “The MVP the business wants may be too large to deliver, but along the way there is discovery of smaller deliverables that get you to the longer-term product.” Having that open discussion with your stakeholders along the way, acknowledging the things you need to do to get to the final product, and discussing the improvements you can make at each step will result in a much more successful MVP rollout.

We appreciate everyone who joined our Special Interest Group meeting and shared their perspectives. For more information about future Aite-Novarica events, visit our Events page.

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