REVIEWER: Frank Ammerman, vice president of business systems for IBSi, LLC.

BACKGROUND: In 1999, Educator's Mutual Life Insurance Company, a regional employee benefits company, formed Integrated Benefit Solutions (IBSi). IBSi created a new business model for the employee benefits market. We provide an e-assisted distribution model for independent insurance brokers. IBSi delivers an Internet-supported selling experience through the use of its YOUcentric-powered broker solutions network (BSN) platform. IBSi brokers can access a best-of-breed portfolio of insurance products. In addition to eCRM features, IBSi and YOUcentric developed a product configurator, pricing and fulfillment workbench that enables users to select, price, quote and sell from a constantly evolving inventory of benefits and insurance products. YOUrelate technology makes all of this possible.

PLATFORMS: IBSi runs the YOUrelate solution using the BEA WebLogic platform and an Oracle8i database in a multiserver NT environment.

PROBLEM SOLVED: We manage a complex distribution network which includes multiple insurance company suppliers and a multiple-entity chain of distributors (brokers, employers, employees). We needed to speed and simplify workflows via a commerce/rating engine for insurance quotes. Importantly, we used YOUcentric's technology to build a commerce/ rating META-engine. It is extensible over new product lines without server-side reprogramming. We looked at a variety of other CRM solutions, but YOUcentric was the only solution that could quickly meet our needs and support our high-touch, high-tech business model.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: The YOUcentric solution is used to support more than 4,000 independent brokers located across 20 states. IBSi saw a 50 percent increase in sales for the year 2000 and predicts tripled numbers for the next few years. YOUrelate's Web-based e-business relationship management software solution allowed IBSi to leverage its more than 110 components to create the exact fit we needed – sales force automation, workflow, fulfillment and commerce – as well as incorporate our own unique new object, the IBSi commerce/ratings engine. The engine interactively manages product configuration, pricing, fulfillment and tracking. Through YOUrelate, IBSi simplifies and adds value to each step in the lengthy and complex group benefits supply chain.

STRENGTHS: YOUcentric's software provides a wide array of functionality in a Web-based, easy-to-use, rapidly deployable solution. Additionally, YOUrelate's component-based approach met our unique needs and will grow with us as we change. IBSi META-engine users are now able to Web-launch new products quickly without any technology redeployment or coding. The YOUrelate solution effectively powers the new business model that we at IBSi have designed for our independent brokers.

WEAKNESSES: The scope of the META-engine development phase grew larger than originally planned. While this is understandable given the "rocket science" nature of this component, in hindsight, it should have been split into multiple-phase deliverables.

SELECTION CRITERIA: In selecting an e-business relationship management solution, IBSi recognized the importance of a Web-based application that was quickly customizable to our business model. Because the largest subset of our potential users is external, it was important that the solution be Java-based and accessible through any browser based on a security role model.

DELIVERABLES: Our key deliverable was the ratings engine that we designed using YOU-centric's component-based approach. The ratings engine allows users to quickly and easily generate quotes in a matter of minutes, instead of faxing in data and waiting days while disparate back- office systems performed the mathematical computations needed in pricing employee benefits.

VENDOR SUPPORT: YOUcentric was good to work with. They understood our needs, our complex business processes and enabled us to map them directly to "YOUrelate for IBSi," – the broker solutions network. They were able to provide the functionality that we needed from core CRM to workflow. Their component-based approach enabled us to apply principles of mass customization to how the users experience the BSN platform. No packaged out-of- the-box application would have met those requirements, and YOUcentric has been and remains committed to seeing us succeed.

DOCUMENTATION: YOUcentric provided both general documentation guides and specific documents based on our unique solution. Also valuable were the training sessions that we used in order to bring development capabilities in house.

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