Fireman's Fund Insurance
Fireman's Fund DRIPs information
Through the 1990s, Fireman's Fund
Insurance had successfully built systems that provided electronic information
to its internal users. By the end of the decade, developers were working
hard to extend those capabilities to its extensive external network of
independent insurance agents, third-party vendors, re-insurers and others
that required fundamental data to do their jobs.
Risk Internet Project (DRIP)
provide customers with the ability to review and analyze claim information
from a variety of summary and detail perspectives.
the delivery of ad hoc reports to internal and external clients;
reduced monthly paper production by one-third within two months
"We wanted to extend the system
to provide customers [and partners] with a vehicle that would let them
read information online that they had to get on paper in the past," said
Dave Freese, business systems manager at Fireman's Fund's Novato, Calif.,
Commercial Division. "We wanted to do it without having to tie into our
network; therefore, we needed a Web-based system."
Thus were the plans laid for the
Diversified Risk Internet Project (DRIP), an intranet-based system that
allows external Fireman's Fund partners and employees to access, review
and analyze claim information from a variety of summary and detail perspectives.
The project was initiated as a proof of concept effort in late 1998, marking
this development team's entry into the world of Web development.
Freese said an early decision
by the development team and its managers to use a Web-based toolset from
SAS Institute Inc., Raleigh, N.C., was made quickly because the data to
be distributed was already stored in SAS data marts stored in SAS server
technologies. The data marts held information accessed from Fireman's
Fund corporate mainframes. He noted that the Fireman's Fund unit has been
using SAS since 1983, which kept developers very familiar with the base
technology. Following an evaluation of SAS data publishing tools, the
team decided to utilize the SAS/IntrNet technology for the project. The
team also settled on Microsoft's Web server, the Internet Information
Server (IIS), as the access point for external access. Developers utilized
SAS data libraries and SAS reporting logic that already existed within
the operation, saving significant development time and money, Freese said.
The biggest challenge facing the
team was ensuring that client data and Fireman's Fund data remained secure
during the interactions over the intranet, Freese said. The decision was
made to build a security system that used several new systems in addition
to the standard user ID and password requirements. For example, developers
used the SAS tools to design a customer profile management system that
can limit access to specific data, he said.
Microsoft Internet Information Server
(IIS), SAS/IntrNet data server
The decision to add Internet capabilities
to the DRIP project was well received by veteran developers at the unit,
who are looking to work with new technologies, Freese said. He noted that
just two years ago, this development unit did no Internet development.
Today, 30% to 40% of projects are Web-related, said Freese. The DRIP team
depended on training from SAS instructors and "a good portion of trial
and error" in building the intranet, he added.
Testing began on a beta version
of the product in November 1998, and the system moved into production
by July 1999. "The system started as a proof of concept," Freese said.
"We built it quickly and sought acceptance from users. We went from design
to [beta] delivery in six weeks."
Freese said the system
quickly proved its cost-cutting mettle in savings resulting from reduced
paper requirements. After just a month or six weeks on the new systems,
nearly half of the users requested that the distribution of paper reports
be stopped. "That cut the paper outlay by 40% just to these users," he
Michael W. Bucken