Independence Blue Cross spends over U.S.$4 million yearly to produce, print, and mail policy booklets to its members. The company now provides its members with fast, reliable, searchable, and secure online access to booklets—and anticipates saving $2 million a year—in part due to Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007, which also is used as the enterprise content management and collaboration solution for other initiatives at the company.
As a major health insurance provider, Independence Blue Cross (IBC) spent over U.S.$4 million on creating, publishing, and mailing more than 5 million policy booklets each year for its 3.4 million members. Because of contract changes, customizations, and other issues such as lost booklets, the company would send duplicates and entire manuals with minor updates to members, a process that could take days or weeks due to reprinting and binding.
The company wanted to provide electronic versions of the booklets, but it faced the challenges of storing and retrieving documents, and managing security. IBC also faced challenges in providing access to information. It wanted to enable employees to search and retrieve current and previous versions of its booklets; this required a new document management approach for the business, which traditionally used file folders.
In parallel to the contracts and booklets project, the company’s Strategic Initiatives Group was also looking for a content management repository and collaboration solution as it geared up to support the coordination and capture of new multiyear strategic planning.
The company selected a solution based on Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007. One of the first projects to move to Office SharePoint Server was the contract and booklet publication program. Content for the booklets, including custom information about member’s coverage, is integrated with the UNIX-based DocSciences content-publishing system that the company was already using.
||Employee response to SharePoint Server 2007 is overwhelming; everyone wants to create a site for collaboration. And all the excitement is due to word of mouth—we haven’t actively promoted the technology yet.
Chief Architect, Enterprise Content, Independence Blue Cross
The system creates the booklets with enhanced rules and, instead of always printing every booklet on demand, as before, forwards them to a SharePoint site that serves as a highly searchable document repository. The SharePoint site tags the files according to custom metadata specified by IBC—including booklet version number—by which the files can be easily found and retrieved using the Office SharePoint Server search capability.
Members request their booklets through the members’ portal using their existing member security. Then, they can navigate to the SharePoint site repository and download the most current version of their booklets. Documents within the SharePoint site repository can be archived by IBC employees and retrieved for later use if needed. The result is a complete document life-cycle management system.
For its Strategic Initiatives Group project, the company used InfoPath® Forms Services capabilities in Office SharePoint Server to capture value propositions, return-on–investment calculations, cost-benefit analyses, five-year plans, and other supporting documents for each proposed initiative. Project teams use Office SharePoint Server and its content management capabilities to collaborate and save shared and related project collateral.
Independence Blue Cross estimates that the implementation of the Office SharePoint Server 2007 solution costs a fraction of alternative enterprise content management solutions such as Documentum, thanks in part to savings that IBC achieved through its Enterprise Agreement renewal with Microsoft. And the benefits only begin there.
While the company saves money, members get better service because they can download booklets immediately rather than waiting days or weeks for the booklets to arrive by mail. Updates to booklets can be implemented overnight.
IBC has also expedited and enhanced its strategic-planning processes, thanks to Office SharePoint Server 2007. Initial project assessments that formerly took weeks to complete because of the laborious nature of manual data capture and processing now take just days.
Because the initial program and project assessments are stored in a single repository, review and approvals can be automated by using the collaborative workflow capability built into Office SharePoint Server 2007.
“We’re doing a better job of capturing information, sharing information, and making it readily discoverable and available to the people who need it,” says Greg Barnowsky, Chief Architect of Enterprise Content at IBC. “That means the people in our Strategic Initiatives Group, and in our business and Information Services project teams, can focus on creating and refining the plans that will see us into the next decade, rather than spending their time chasing paper. For a major program like our 2010 Initiative, SharePoint Server 2007 made the difference—the technology was simple and easy to use, just like our existing office tools.”
By using automated workflows across documents created in the 2007 Microsoft Office system, the company can quickly capture new project ideas, make informed assessments, and report on project status. Being able to complete these steps quickly has helped reduce project turnaround time from months to weeks or even days.
InfoPath Forms Services also gives IBC the ability to capture information and initiate workflow and content management in a way that’s easy for business users and doesn’t require knowledge of programming languages.
Employees throughout IBC have taken note. “Employee response to SharePoint Server 2007 is overwhelming; everyone wants to create a site for collaboration,” says Barnowsky. “And all the excitement is due to word of mouth—we haven’t actively promoted the technology yet.”