Cactus launched an online trading platform in New Zealand for commercial combined and contract works insurance covers based on Insly software.

Founded in 2012, Cactus is an innovative insurance wholesaler with the aim to provide brokers with effective online tools to quote and bind risks in a simple “no-fuss” manner. The vision of the company is to make insurance sales and understanding easier for both consumers and sellers alike. Cactus focuses on Property, Motor, and Liability insurance products and has an XY-strong broker network. Down the line, the company also intends to expand into direct-to-consumer sales.

To gain a conclusive competitive edge through technological superiority, Cactus needed a capable and flexible software platform. After a global search for the software provider, Insly came out on top. “Cactus chose to work with Insly as we had some key areas that were important for us (e.g. possibility to do web sales, readiness to allow for broker access, different automation and potential to tap into insurer rating engines and data sources) and it seemed after our initial discussions that Insly ticket many of the boxes,” says Nicholas Rolfe, Managing Director at Cactus.

End-to-end solution

The result after customizing the Insly platform and developing modules addressing Cactus’s specific use cases is a cloud-based system that accommodates full cycle sales and administration for brokers and has the online sales capacity, enriched by the certain novel, innovative components:

  • Simple quote forms with easy to use lookup services for home, vehicle and addresses;
  • Automated rating engine and referral system for all products;
  • E-sales process with e-offers, web-based declaration signing process, and document management;
  • Three online payment options: credit card, premium funding and bank transfer with synchronization between accounting software (Xero).

As of now, the first products with a local insurer Ando are launched with a limited number of local brokerages. The development focus has shifted to completing web sales capability and adding further products. As the next step, the Domestic Combined product will be launched by year’s end, with the next great things to follow Q1 2018.

Agile development process

Insly started the project with a thorough analysis of Cactus’s needs and aspirations, and New Zealand and business sector-specific requirements, yielding the scope, budget, and timeline.

“There was some common functionality that needed adjusting to match our requirements – how to put in place as much relevant automation as possible, how to make the process flow as intuitive and easy for the “user” as possible, how to make the documents as short as possible but not lose the critical information at the same time,”  explains Mr Rolfe. “However, we also had a lot of new functionality that we wanted to do differently compared to the classical approach which required some extra analyses and planning regarding how to configure the Insly platform accordingly.”

The full project was handed over with significant delays compared to the initially planned timeline, with an accompanying budget overrun. However, this was mainly caused by extra functionality and mid-term changes in scope and was approved and welcomed by Cactus.

“This is where our agile methodology comes into play,” comments Inlsy’s Product Owner Armido Hirvlaan. “It’s quite obvious that the best ideas come along when some progress is already made, enabling to experience first-hand how the solution works. Classical waterfall project often fails to accommodate such ongoing scope changes, making participants stubbornly following something that is already known to be inadequate.”

It is worth noting that the entire project was done from start to end in a remote mode using virtual meetings and calls + managing the difference in time zones while doing so.

Lessons learned

Definitely, some learning objectives that should be considered as well:

  • Communication, analyses, and planning. We had a lot of that but perhaps, even more, would have been needed.
  • If possible try to agree on the scope as much as possible in advance but leave room for improvements, changes and consider the potential effect on the budget also.
  • Focus on the minimum viable version instead of an all-included long-term vision which is something that you will keep on executing for the years to come.
  • Speak the same language, an MTA might mean something different in the UK than it does in New Zealand.
  • Testing is the most critical of all and demand test access rights from the beginning. Test yourself, find friends to test, use partners to test and when done then do it all again.’

Next steps

Stage 2 means the development of the web sales module + new products. Currently planning for Domestic Combined which should be up and running in the middle of 2018.