The long long way with AXA.Jun 2, 2011
You may see from pTools website homepage that we’re still proud of the work we do for AXA. We first pitched for an AXA website CMS project some time around 2000. We got it and at the time I remember we celebrated the win as even then we felt it was something significant. Certainly in terms of revenue it was significant. Later the AXA project manager told me that another CMS firm had quoted them ten times what we had quoted. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. A recurring theme of these blogs!
Soon we were invited to pitch for the new AXA Solicitor Claims Extranet, which was called Atlas. We were told it was the most significant application the company had developed since the overhaul of its core image and workflow system, Solus. Solus we were told had been a major success. Atlas must follow the same path. We won the Atlas project in late 2001. It was, back then, the largest project we had ever undertaken. We learned a lot from the AXA team. We under spec’d then over spec’d, then finally found the right depth needed to hit the delivery deadline. Thankfully nobody had to walk the plank.
The first Atlas system went live in July 2002. The expectation was that up to 50% of solicitors on the AXA panel would adopt the new system within 12 months. The result was that almost 100% had adopted the Atlas system by that Christmas! This was good and bad. Good because the system had met and exceeded expectations bad because the shock to the business caused some significant ripples. Gone, overnight, was the fax room, with its 50 fax machines, dozens of staff, phones and filing cabinets all used to support the solicitors. Instead there was now a raft of online support queries with only a few people, mostly from IT, available to respond. If there was a lesson to be learned it was there from the beginning; that new systems can have business impact beyond IT scope. But the people at AXA solved those problems and the Atlas system has been a major success in terms of adoption, business efficiency, and cost savings.
Since then we’ve further developed and re-developed the system with two major releases in 2005 and 2009. We have gained immeasurably in our knowledge of enterprise applications and major CMS driven extranet solutions. If you are wondering if we would do anything differently now, the answer of course is yes. There are many things that would change. One major challenge was delivering metrics in real-time on a system of that scale. It took too long to realise we needed a separate indexing system to handle these queries. But then again we didn’t realise how compelling real-time metrics would be to insurance executives who had previously had to wait up to 18 months to get them. There’s lots more. The AXA Atlas story is part of our company history now. We’ve come a long long way together.
AXA Case Study
Tom Skinner is Managing Director / CEO of pTools Software. Before joining pTools he worked with LG Electronics and the Irish Board of Trade in product development. Tom's work with pTools ranges from business management to sales as well as working closely with the new product development team. He helped design, develop and deploy the very first pTools CMS solutions in 1997 and has worked on every phase of company and product development since. Married with two children he lives in Dublin.