Automation of monthly contribution process for financial services group

Sanlam is a leading South Africa-based financial services group, with various business clusters which provide financial solutions to individual and institutional clients across all market segments. The Employee Benefits (EB) division within Sanlam Corporate was lacking an automated web solution which started resulting in delays and inaccuracies in the important monthly processes of contributions, deductions and payroll. This placed the business under pressure to increase their efficiency and profitability, and therefore the automation of the monthly contribution process was an important part of Sanlam’s strategy.

The Solution

As a result of our track record in the financial services industry, we were invited by Sanlam to participate in the process of designing and developing a proof of concept (POC) solution, which would demonstrate to the Sanlam business users how their automation challenges could be overcome.

  • We facilitated an initial workshop with key stakeholders from Sanlam.
  • The main purpose of this workshop was to clearly define the business problem and ensure all stakeholders were in agreement.
  • Once achieved, it was now possible to decide on the broad terms of the solution, and to clearly scope the POC exercise, and the POC was developed within three months.
  • This was a functional system, demonstrating the front-end system and key interfaces that were crucial to address the business problem.
  • These key interfaces included the integration to the back-end administration system, and integration to the Sanlam BI system.
  • From a functional perspective, the system demonstrated that a simple client interface, which shielded the clients from the complexities that needed to be handled by the back-end administration system, was possible.

The POC further proved that it was possible to implement straight-through processes, effectively providing Sanlam clients with the ability to maintain their own contributions data. This also enabled Sanlam to collect the exact contribution amounts, from the client, via an automated payment process, thereby addressing one of the main business problems.

Following the successful completion and sign off of the POC, we were awarded the contract to build the full business solution (STeP system). This project was developed using Agile techniques, and the initial solution was implemented into production six months later. The initial solution has since been expanded considerably to handle a broader product set and further automation.

The Result

Our successful implementation of the STeP system has had a number of very significant, positive impacts for Sanlam Employee Benefits:

Enhanced Client Experience – a survey was run to evaluate the ‘new’ client experience. The feedback from this survey was overwhelmingly positive, with 100% of clients rating the new process as being superior to the previous manual process.

Efficiency Improvement – as clients now updated their own contribution data, and Sanlam was no longer required to perform this manual task, this increased Sanlam’s capacity to cope with new business growth without having to expand their cost base.

Risk Reduction – data updates were now performed directly by the client via the online administration system. This reduced the risk of Sanlam data errors, which could result in client-loss write-offs.

Downstream Benefits – as contributions are an upstream activity within the administration value chain, improvements in data accuracy and timeliness, through stringent validations implemented in the STeP system, significantly reduced the amount of downstream rework.

Partnering with Sanlam

Although the solution design and overall program management was provided by us, it was imperative for the success of the project to co-operate and collaborate with the internal Sanlam IT staff, and with MIP, the vendor who supplies and supports the back-office Sanlam EB administration platform.