December 1, 2010 – The information technology equivalent of drudgework, data conversion is nonetheless an increasingly important skill as insurers move from legacy to modern systems.

A new report from Boston-based Celent says insurers need to account for data conversion in their strategic planning. "Innovation in business processes is a key area for many insurance companies, and data conversion is almost always part of the transition," says Mike Fitzgerald, senior analyst with Celent's Insurance Group, who authored the report with analyst Craig Beattie.

The authors say one common problem is that carriers fail to recognize and source the specific project management skills required for successful data conversion.

“A repeated error identified by both vendors and insurers is applying an application development project management approach to a data conversion effort,” the report stated. “In reality, the skill sets are different and require separate abilities.”

Another misstep the authors cite is the failure by project leads to familiarize with the data they intend to convert. “Frequently, the complexity and cost of a data migration project relates to the effort required to mine and document the fine details of how data is used in an organization,” according to the report. “This is also an area in which the work effort is traditionally underestimated.”

In addition to having the requisite human capital in place, there are also many technology options that can smooth the conversion process. “The good news for insurers is that many vendors and service providers have experience and tooling for data conversion projects,” the report stated. “In many cases the tools can be rented for the time they’re required, and training is offered for internal staff.”

This originally appeared on Insurance Networking News.

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