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FAST: Delivering Future-Proof Insurance Software

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The insurance industry has historically been characterized as 'risk-averse' when it comes to adopting technology, and the widespread reluctance is understandable. Keeping pace with the digital-induced disruptions in a highly complex regulatory landscape is not easy for insurers, who often find themselves in a tight spot while upping their technology game. On the other hand, with legacy systems, insurers are faced with the risk of irrelevance in the ever-evolving digital economy and an inability to achieve their business goals—be it to quickly launch new products, sell via new channels, or engage with customers digitally. The hard truth is, virtually all life insurers today are in a distressing situation: the legacy technology and even the "modern legacy" platforms that they have built over the years have become an impediment rather than an enabler. Why? Modern legacy platforms, while offering some configurability, are still predominantly code-driven systems with a vast majority of their functions supported via compiled logic. They require programmers, with skills in specific development languages/ tools, to make changes, and are often the result of vendor acquisitions, which are cobbled together with disparate technologies.

And the dust is far from settling. Code-driven platforms require a traditional waterfall approach or Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC), which makes it challenging to deliver new capabilities in rapid fashion. Besides, they can result in a one-off code base, which, with each change and subsequent release, can create a platform version deviating further from the vendor base system. This makes it nearly impossible to upgrade and remain current with new releases, and it drastically reduces the platform's value to the insurer. Against this challenging backdrop framed by legacy systems, what insurers need is a modern and essentially 'future-proof' technology platform that can evolve with the dynamic needs of today's insurance industry. A proven formula to help insurers achieve this transformation is exactly what FAST—Flexible Architecture, Simplified Technology—can deliver.

So how exactly is FAST, a Verisk business, doing that? Staying true to its name, the company offers a fusion of robust software solution and deep expertise in technology and insurance processing to redefine the traditional insurance norms and practices, helping insurers prepare for the future. "With our breakthrough technology framework and pre-built insurance software components, we dramatically reduce the time, cost, and risk associated with major system initiatives," says Tom Famularo, the Co-Founder and Managing Director at FAST.

An Innovative and Fully Configurable Platform

At the center of FAST's solution is its powerful software. To explain its architecture, Famularo breaks it down into three essential layers. The bottom layer constitutes the FAST technology platform, which allows configuration of products, business processes, rules and calculations, and everything that goes into building the business logic. The second layer comprises the Insurance Components, which is an alternative to traditional large monolithic packaged systems to solve legacy core challenges. All the pre-built processes—policy management, claims, billing, and transactions—are managed through this interface. FAST's Insurance Components are the industry's first complete suite of business process-driven software components that are pre-configured and pre-integrated "out-of-the-box" for full policy lifecycle with true straight-through-processing. The topmost layer houses FAST's cloud services that enable companies to build new products from scratch or manage complex product structures and innovate easily.

Unlike the older, code-driven systems, FAST's innovative and fully configurable platform leverages a single technology framework and uses a common set of rules and calculations. The platform helps ensure that the existing capabilities are maintained, and new capabilities are created via configuration. It allows users to define new functionalities entirely, without having to rely on programmers or specific development tools. These capabilities can be quickly defined, utilizing agile concepts for rapid delivery.

Finally, because of the high platform configurability, FAST's customers have their environment upgraded every 18-24 months as part of their subscription, such that they remain very current without worrying about the platform becoming antiquated.

Cost-Effective and Seamless

While the FAST platform is often deployed as multiple components to create a policy administration system (PAS), it would be an oversimplification to call the system a "PAS." The ultra-configurable FAST platform enables customers to practically perform all tasks—be it to add a product, change a product, automate a process, integrate with another sub-system or troubleshoot an issue—usually more quickly and less expensively than with modern legacy systems. The FAST platform has been proven to be far more cost-effective and efficient in terms of growing with an insurer's needs and enabling them to achieve their business goals.


Because we are able to deliver capabilities and de-risk engagements quickly, FAST's customers can readily see the benefits of their work

According to Famularo, there are four primary areas where the FAST platform excels in helping its customers.

• Configurability: The FAST platform delivers configurable logic and calculations which includes even the functional areas and calculations traditionally deemed "sacred" and never to be changed, such as TAMRA/ DEFRA functionality.

• BPM: The platform is exceptionally responsive as it utilizes an event-driven Business Process Management (BPM) framework. This makes it capable of readily accommodating the changing needs of today's insurers.

• Integration: Various integrations are supported by the platform via a set of intuitive, documented, and configurable micro-services as well as automated testing. Recently, one of FAST's customers was able to create 200 integrations across 37 different sub-systems (34 of which were real-time integrations) during a six-month engagement.

• Testing Automation: The FAST platform supports automated testing through which insurers can identify, triage, and quickly deploy changes to ensure that it's accurate and up-to-date.

Built-in Software Governance Model

FAST employs a distinctive permutation of a scaled agile framework and lean processing to come up with a quick incremental build model. Famularo explains, "Most insurance companies are unclear about their digital transformation journey. So, we collate pre-configured modules to offer a system that looks and feels like it is custom-made for the client." Alongside, FAST also uses its built-in software governance model to track and trace different rules and configurability parameters of the software. As the clients continue using the software, they start understanding and prioritizing future requirements, which are then incrementally added to the software. Making use of this development and delivery approach, FAST maintains a record of deploying software 10 to 15 times faster than traditional insurance solution vendors.

With an SOA-based development model that supports rapid integration, FAST is best-suited to offer flexible and limitless product structure. In one customer engagement, FAST helped an insurance carrier achieve their overall business objectives and primed them for all of their future needs through its robust technology platform. In a unique situation allowing for specific metrics, FAST was able to meet the client's business requirements with about 16 times less effort—comprised of 25 percent of the time using 25 percent of the people—compared to another market-relevant solution. "The client approached us with the need for enterprise agility to transform how technology supports digital strategy and future innovations. Besides, they wanted to create a great experience for the end-users while anticipating their needs, and that's exactly what we delivered," informs Famularo.

"With our breakthrough technology framework and pre-built insurance software components, we dramatically reduce the time, cost, and risk associated with major system initiatives"

FAST deployed its state-of-the-art platform for the client to optimize the flow of value from concept to customer benefit. Apart from continuous upgradation to FAST's latest software, the platform supported seamless delivery and deployments and real-time integration at scale ("batch" supported with materialized views), accomplishing the client's short- and long-term business objectives. The end-results were outstanding, and the customer was able to roll out four new products and add a new IMO distribution channel in the first three months after going live.

A Culture Steeped in Innovation

Apart from its proven and time-tested formula for insurers, what differentiates FAST is its innovative and empowering work culture. "Because we are able to deliver capabilities and de-risk engagements quickly, FAST's customers can readily see the benefits of their work," mentions Famularo. Instead of working with traditional platforms, where significant time and effort are spent discussing hypothetical needs, defining and documenting requirements, and other elements, FAST's teams (including FAST's resources and those of customers) collaborate to quickly amend processes directly on the platform itself. As the clients' functional needs evolve and business volumes increase, FAST's team is readily able to adjust the platform to support clients' business optimally.

Further, the founders and many of the employees at FAST hold extensive combined experience in working with modern legacy platforms. "We have seen first-hand how the limitations of older systems have contributed to the disjointed environments prevalent in most insurers' ecosystems today," mentions Famularo.

Over the past several years, with its advanced platform and proprietary, agile-based implementation methodology, FAST has evolved into a true market leader. Having carved a unique niche in the insurance industry, the company is continuing to build on its wide acceptance and footprint in the life insurance and annuity PAS market. With its recent acquisition by Verisk (NASDAQ: VRSK), FAST is embarking on a new initiative to develop a premier data analytics offering for life insurers and annuity providers. This solution will combine FAST's platform and its teams' industry expertise with the best-of-breed skills of Verisk, along with an impressive wealth of contextual data to create an unparalleled, insightful offering for insurers. "FAST has gained tremendous momentum in the industry over the past decade, and we're excited to continue on the success path into the future," concludes Famularo.

- Aaron Pierce
    March 19, 2020
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FAST

Company
FAST

Headquarters
Iselin, NJ

Management
Tom Famularo, Co-Founder and Managing Director

Description
FAST, a Verisk business, offers a unique combination of software and expertise to insurance companies to modernize their environments or completely replace legacy systems