August 17, 2020 | Written by: Arsh Kaumi and Connie Yeung
Categorized: Digital Transformation | Insurance | SAP | Services
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At Generali Hong Kong, we knew it was time to transform our way of doing business.
We were growing fast in a market that was also evolving quickly. There has always been a need to reduce the complexity in the way insurance business is conducted without compromising the regulations, and with rising customer expectations it was natural for us to transform our business. By 2021, Generali Hong Kong wants to ensure a digital experience for all our customers.
Our ambition of “Innovation and Digital Transformation” is not just restricted to external customers; internally, our systems had to step up and Finance had to transform.
As part of our Finance transformation journey, we wanted to drive real-time data flow with automated controls; shift the focus from reporting and reconciliation to analysis; create transparent, concise and clear reports; reinforce robustness in reporting for business insights.
International Financial Reporting Standard 17 (IFRS 17) was another challenge looming on the business horizon. This is a huge endeavor that cannot be done in a single step. In order to be ready in advance we needed to transform our current financial system to a more flexible and efficient one.
We also made a strategic shift toward cloud and decided on a hosted SAP S/4HANA solution. This move will allow us to create a single source of truth for financial data, conduct instant data mining, use cloud-based analytics capabilities and access intelligent robotic process automation (iRPA) tools. With direct bank links and other features we can automate critical financial processes such as vendor payment and bank reconciliation.
We knew we needed a partner who can guide us on the additional features with their knowledge and experience to maximize our SAP S/4HANA investment. We also wanted ready access to industry experts who understood how insurance companies worked and the challenges they faced. This was why we engaged IBM Services.
Part of the team portfolio
IBM Services’ relentless focus on teamwork impressed us right from the onset. They engaged with our key project stakeholders and developed a sense of shared ownership. Together, they worked with us as part of a single team that was focused on project outcomes.
Strong project management using the IBM Ascend methodology for SAP S/4HANA migration was IBM Services’ key differentiator. The proven SAP implementation approach saw the IBM team inform us about the results at each stage of the project lifecycle which allowed us to provide feedback at every stage. The agile approach ensured that we met project expectations, delivered on expected functionalities and achieved tight timelines.
IBM Services also incorporated Generali Hong Kong’s business schedule into the detailed project task list. This offered everyone a clear direction with details on what to do next. As a result, both our teams were crystal clear on the next steps and worked collaboratively.
They were also flexible and adaptable to workplace arrangement during the social outbreak and COVID-19. They re-organized tasks with prioritization so that we continue to meet the deadline of the critical path during challenging times.
Maximizing the premium features
SAP offered various cloud-based benefits. While these addressed our short-term and long-term objectives, we needed a partner who understood the nuances.
It is where IBM Services’ partnership mattered the most. They helped us understand how we can take advantage of the various new features, while optimizing our current financial workflows further.
For us, the biggest benefit lay in the creation of a single source of truth with Enterprise Financial Data Hub for IFRS 17 running on the SAP BW4/HANA data platform. The iRPA and Multi-bank Connectivity Cloud simplified reporting further.
The Hub will play an important role as we prepare for IFRS 17. It offers features like real-time data transformation for meeting IFRS 17 CSM calculation engine, data flow traceability within the Hub, compatibility with the data format and definition for the IFRS 17 CSM calculation engine, and full integration with SAP Financial Product Subledger for IFRS 17 to eliminate duplications and reduce inconsistences.
During the entire implementation, IBM Services ensured communications was smooth between the various Generali and IBM teams. They also worked closely with SAP and our banking partners for platform integration and kept the project on an even keel.
Insuring for success
The six-month implementation was only the first phase, but the benefits were immediate.
We could now train our staff to take on more analytics-based roles and boost our accounting capabilities, not be bogged down with administrative tasks such as reconciliations. Bank connectivity and high-level of automation eliminated human errors and reduced financial workload further.
IBM Services’ consultative approach to arrange several rounds of training and conferences helped the finance and IT teams to become familiar with the new system. Their experience and track record in helping other insurance companies helped us to address challenges and hurdles while allaying any fears of the new system.
Preparing for the long journey
Our transformation journey has only just begun. It was important that we took the right steps forward and put in the right building blocks.
SAP S/4HANA offered the platform to drive this transformation. IBM Services helped us to maximize our investment and transform the way we do finance.
As we enter the next phase in our transformation where we look at a more holistic integration of our existing systems and streamline our data flow, their deep knowledge and reliable support gives us the confidence that we are on the right track and in the right company.