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9/9/2009
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InformationWeek 500: 20 Great Ideas To Steal

InformationWeek 500 innovators reveal some of their top projects. Could something similar work at your company? Let the brainstorming begin.

A Component Approach To Software Testing

Every year, FedEx's IT group manages multiple large-scale, highly complex software deployments with aggressive launch dates. These mega-releases include dozens of intricate, global projects, involving numerous applications and various parts of the business, all with interdependencies.

FedEx breaks these complicated releases into components that can be decoupled if problems arise in any one area. Early in the development life cycle, IT builds a decoupling plan. Key dependencies and decision points are mapped for each major component of a project. If something goes wrong with a component, it's isolated and decoupled. The problem is solved separately, while the rest of the project is released on time.

This approach lets FedEx pursue high-risk, complex business initiatives, while maintaining acceptable levels of risk.


Some Risk Judgments Get Automated

Harleysville Insurance needed a better underwriting, policy issuance, and product administration system, instead of working with a dozen mainframe systems, some of them more than 20 years old. So the company, which provides insurance to small- and midsize businesses as well as individuals, developed accessHarleysville, an SOA-based system that revamped the way it works with its 1,400 independent insurance agencies.

Agents use a portal to submit policy applications, and the system validates required information--such as driver records and credit information --then integrates the data with automated risk models. Harleysville's predictive models delineate risks among similar businesses and a rules engine decides if a policy is low risk enough to be issued by an agent, or should be reviewed by an underwriter. AccessHarleysville has cut the time needed to issue a policy and increased self-service capabilities for agents. It has increased productivity and boosted premiums from small businesses.


Cigna Offers Hard Data For Care Choices

Cigna's Care Connections provides a central online source of information on the quality and costs of medical care. Now, instead of scrambling from site to site and puzzling over medical jargon, people with Cigna healthcare plans can type in symptoms, using common terms such as "earache" and "knee pain," to get information.

Care Connections also provides ratings for local specialists and hospitals, helps formulate questions to ask doctors, compares treatment options, estimates costs, and analyzes medication options and costs.

Since its launch in April 2008, the service has been visited 12 million times, and seven out of 10 users chose the highest-ranked doctors for both quality and cost efficiency. The pharmaceutical pricing tool alone will generate more than $177 million in estimated savings per year for Cigna customers, by encouraging lower-cost generic medicines.


Capital One's Single View Of Risk

Capital One has replaced a number of standalone risk management and compliance systems with a centralized, enterprise-wide system. Its new governance, risk management, and compliance system manages thousands of controls, validating more than 2,500 laws, regulations, and requirements. It unites risk and compliance into a single management system used by more than a thousand employees across all lines of business.

The system includes a workflow engine, process configuration, dashboard and reporting capabilities, document management, content management, surveys and assessments, security and access controls, and search and import/export capabilities. The underlying technology is comprised of governance, risk management, and compliance software running on Windows-based virtual machines across multiple environments in conjunction with an Oracle database.

The system automates key aspects of the controls process such as testing, validating, and reporting. It provides a holistic view of all risk, sending management reliable, actionable information. The system has improved Capital One's ability to respond to regulatory changes. Risk and compliance operations are performed more consistently, resulting in cost savings and scope, quality, and efficiency improvements.



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