Kellie Uhlhorn

Our Favorite Epic Highlights from Applied Net 2021

Though attending Applied Net in person offers a much more interactive approach to the conference, the best part about it being virtual is the fact that it makes it easier to attend multiple sessions back-to-back and re-watch them to gain full understanding of the subject matter. This year, Applied Net was once again filled with fantastic sessions full of knowledgeable material to help enhance your Applied Epic experience. There were many new updates, features and capabilities being rolled out this year. Below we share some of the Epic highlights we’re most excited about and what you can expect from Epic with the recent updates that have been released:

1. Expanded Email Templates

One update that we were most excited to see was the enhanced functionality of the Email Templates. Prior to this latest release, this feature was very limited. Now you can create an email template directly from Outlook which attaches to the client file in Epic. There is also an option to add an email template with Marketing reports. You can set up these templates with your agency’s branding as well as configure templates based on certain workflows to streamline email messaging.

2. EZLynx – Applied Merger

It was announced earlier this year that Applied was acquiring EZLynx, which would bring greater automation in carrier rating and broaden marketing opportunities for agencies. This is integrated with Applied Epic, and it was announced at AppliedNet that by December, there will be 100 Carrier options. EZLynx is a popular rater especially for Personal Lines producers, so this further enhance the comparative rating experience.

3. Indio Submission Activities

Agencies using the Indio integration will now have a more seamless flow between Epic and Indio marketed submissions with the new activity update. You can now enable submissions created in Indio to be associated to Epic activities. When a submission in Indio is updated (for example: submitted, accepted, declined), you will be able to see this status on the activity screen. Viewing the status of a marketed account in Epic, and the ability to push information back and forth between the two platforms, streamlines discussion and workflows between Account Managers and Sales Personnel.

4. Applied Epic Benefits

Many exciting updates came to Applied Epic specifically for the Benefits Department. In the past, Epic was very limited to the type of Benefits-related information that you could put in an application. Now, there are Benefits-specific details in the Accounts Detail section that will then trickle down to the policy. You will also be able to enter $0 premium when reconciling Direct Bill commission statements – previously, you had to enter a non-zero amount in the premium field, which did not provide accurate reporting. 

Now, the reports generated will be much more accurate as you will not have a stand-in premium in those fields. Lastly, you will be able to turn on Direct Bill Download for Benefits/Life & Health policies, which will certainly save time by reducing the need to manually input commission statements and reducing your E&O exposure. You will need to contact the carriers you want to receive downloaded commission statements from and ensure you system is set up correctly to receive them.

5. Expanded Sales Automation

Sales Automation is a built-in Epic integration and a very helpful tool for managing your sales pipeline and set your goals for the year. But not every agency is set up for a standard calendar year. Now you can configure your Epic system by selecting Fiscal or non-calendar year if that is your agency’s preference. This will allow a more accurate picture of your sales goals and provides a further tailors Epic to your agency’s needs.

The wonderful thing about Applied Epic is that it’s always evolving and finding ways to improve and expand its capabilities to fit the needs of its agency user base. Applied Net this year once more offered opportunities to grow your knowledge and learn more features and unique ways to enable Applied Epic to meet the needs of your agency. At KiteTech, we always look forward to learning new processes and best practices that we can then pass on to our clients. If you would like to learn more about our Epic Consulting Services and how we can help you get the most from your Applied Epic system, contact us at consult@kitetechgroup.com to schedule a free consultation!

Kellie Uhlhorn

Kellie Uhlhorn

Agency Consultant

6 Ways an Applied Epic Consultant can Benefit your Insurance Agency

Insurance agencies have an abundance of daily responsibilities on their plates – those can include keeping up with renewals, making sure endorsements are processed promptly, getting policies checked and sent out to insured and keeping up with client relationships. Of course, an agency’s obligations do not stop there, so it can be challenging to delegate the time for crucial operational tasks such as updating and maintaining your agency management system. Because this is the primary component for operating your agency efficiently and avoiding E&O exposure, that is where an Applied Epic Consultant can provide value. Whether you are currently using Applied Epic or are migrating in the future, a consultant can handle those essential responsibilities that ensure you are maximizing the use of your Epic database.

Below are some examples of how working with a consultant can be beneficial to your agency:

1. Create or Update your Applied Epic Workflows

Workflows are how an agency uniquely uses Applied Epic to its advantage. Standardized workflows are vital to the agency’s operations and should assist in creating efficiency and accurate use of the system. Those workflows should also be maintained and updated routinely with the installation of regular updates received by Applied. An agency consultant can work with your agency to develop custom workflows and make sure they are updated as needed.

2. Custom Reports Management

Reports provide valuable information about your Epic data. When run regularly, they help identify data discrepancies, provide a list of policies upcoming for renewal, track your Book of Business, and more. Reports also assist with reducing your E&O risk when reviewed frequently, which is why they should be set up, scheduled to run, and delivered to the appropriate people within your agency. Leveraging the appropriate reports assists with auditing your agency by identifying missing or incorrect data, further reducing your E&O risk. Building custom reports is a great task to delegate to an Applied Epic  consultant as it can a time-consuming to set up. A consultant can also provide training on report setup and scheduling and perform audits for your agency.

3. Employee Training

The process of migrating to Applied Epic includes educating all current employees on using and navigating the new system. But what happens when you hire new employees who will then need training on your Epic system and workflows? Or what if current employees can benefit from additional coaching? An agency consultant can step in and provide training if you do not have the capacity or a dedicated trainer in your agency. A consultant can also provide additional training during the initial migration or when you implement new standardized workflows.

4. Epic Migration and Optimization Assistance

During the Epic conversion process, you will need to make numerous configuration decisions for the agency in a system that is all new to you. A consultant specializing in Applied Epic can provide valuable insight and guide you through options in configuration based on your agency’s needs. After migration, many agencies find that they could benefit from additional optimization assistance to further increase efficiency – an Applied Epic consultant can look at your Epic system to find inconsistencies and make suggestions on optimizing your use of Epic.

5. Accounting Assistance

Applied Epic has sophisticated accounting capabilities and procedures that can be challenging to fully utilize and understand. If you are not currently using these features in Epic and would like to but don’t know where to start, an Applied Epic consultant can assist with transitioning your accounting processes and provide training. Just as a consultant assists with training servicing staff, they can also train new accounting staff based on your agency’s unique workflows. Accurately entering accounting information is key to getting reliable reports from your database. If you are unsure about the accuracy of your accounting, working with a consultant can go a long way in improving your agency’s accounting processes.

5. Applied Epic Integrations

Numerous beneficial software integrations are available with unique features that can further boost your agency’s operations and efficiency. Learning more about these products and incorporating them within your agency is another example of how a consultant can work with your agency. To learn more about some of the more popular Applied Epic integrations, check out our previous article.

When implementing Applied Epic in your agency, it is crucial to ensure that you are not only getting the most out of your investment but are doing so correctly and efficiently. With all the daily responsibilities that agencies balance, it can be challenging to prioritize tasks like those mentioned above. An Applied Epic consultant can help guide you towards the best options for your agency and serve as an additional resource to ensure your Epic system is set up and maintained to your agency’s standards and needs. 

If you have questions about Kite Technology’s Agency Consulting Services or would like assistance regarding any of the engagements mentioned above, email us at consult@kitetechgroup.com to schedule a complimentary consultation today. We look forward to learning more about your agency’s needs and how we might be able to help. 

Applied Epic Integrations – Further Enhancing Your Agency’s Efficiency

One of the many benefits of being an Applied Epic user is the number of integrated platforms developed to enhance your Epic experience and boost your agency’s virtual efficiency. The insurance industry has become much more sophisticated through technology and online processes, so it is vital for your agency to keep up with this trend. Whether you are Management, an Account Manager, or a Producer, there are integrations that you can incorporate with your daily workload. But with so many now available, you may be asking, which one(s) is best for my agency?  Below, we’ll review a number of Applied Epic integrations that agencies can take advantage of to help them operate more efficiently and serve their clients better.

CSR24 & Applied MobileInsured

CSR24 and MobileInsured are no-brainers when it comes to Applied Epic integrations that your agency can benefit from. CSR24 brings convenience to Account Managers and clients by providing document and policy management in a portal that is accessible at any time. Clients can request changes to a policy, initiate and track claims, and request or even generate their own insurance certificates. MobileInsured furthers the accessibility by providing a personalized mobile app customizable for each client and your agency.  

Ensuring your clients are consistently receiving top-notch customer service is crucial for your agency’s continued success. If you want to be able to route calls faster, record those calls to ensure quality service, and reduce E&O risk, blueButler may be the solution for you. It gives you the ability to see client information from Epic when a call comes in. You can make notes and associate that call directly to a policy, contact, or activity within Epic. Management can create tags, scripts, and checklists for consistency in call workflows. It can also show you daily call activity and the recorded audio to ensure the service provided is always precise and meets agency standards.  

When it comes to renewals and remarketing policies, carriers often require their own separate application completed on top of other supplementals to provide a quote. Asking a client to fill out multiple applications can be time-consuming and frustrating, and trying to keep track of each application also comes with its challenges. Indio helps reduce the risk of E&O exposures while saving you time by automating data to populate across multiple carrier applications, custom forms, and questionnaires located in their 15,000+ application library. Within Indio, you can easily track changes in exposures or receive a notification when a client fills out or submits requested information. Clients can even flag questions that they need assistance with, which will notify the Account Manager directly. Agencies have found a higher return rate and faster turnaround time of applications from clients due to the ease of use of this product.  

Marketing your agency and the services you offer is a vital process for maintaining a strong book of business and ensures your clients and prospects are receiving up-to-date industry content. Marketing Automation allows you to create, send and track email campaigns to target a specific audience. You will have the ability to send a myriad of content found in the Marketing Automation library containing both PNC and benefits materials. You can pull contact information directly from Applied Epic and track your campaigns’ open and click rates. Marketing automation is a great way to regularly stay in front of your clients while also providing them with valuable information.  

For an agency to operate and provide exceptional service to its clients, it’s essential that sales and servicing staff work together efficiently. Applied Epic for Salesforce offers a seamless operation by allowing producers to sell and market on the CRM platform and transfer the data directly into Epic. The Account Manager can then track and keep up with the status of a client account. The dashboard within Salesforce allows you to keep track of sales and performance with detailed reports and enables you to remain up to date on your book of business and opportunities. Attachments, activities, opportunities, and more can be created in either Salesforce or Applied Epic and pushed to the other platform ensuring sales and service are working with current information. If Producers don’t have an Applied Epic license or use it often, having Salesforce is a great way to keep their Account Managers in the loop regarding where they are in the stages of selling and marketing for a specific client.  

Created to eliminate the traditional “spreadsheeting” process and reduce E&O risks, Benefits Designer allows you to build custom proposals and compare different benefits plans all within one system. Premiums and rates are calculated automatically for you, and you can update costs in real-time to present a side-by-side comparison of coverage based on client budget and needs. Relevant information can be transferred directly into the policy application within Epic, reducing manual entry even more. Numerous plans can be created based on client structure, whether they are self-funded, fully insured, or community rated.  

eSignature Solutions

Reduce the need for physical paperwork and decrease wait time by incorporating an eSignature platform into your agency’s operations. Programs like DocuSign and RightSignature help you manage agreements and contracts by providing the ability to prepare and sign them all online. Send and receive signed documents without sacrificing security compliance. These two specific products also transfer signed documents right into Epic, which will notify you via an Activity. 

No matter the role you play in your agency, there is an Applied Epic integration that can benefit you and your agency. With the bi-directional integration that each platform offers, you are reducing your E&O exposure and saving time by cutting out the need for manual and duplicate entry. Our KiteTech Consultants are here to help you optimize your Applied Epic system and assist you in deciding which platform(s) would benefit your agency the most. Contact us today at consult@kitetechgroup.com for a free consultation.

An Applied Epic Checklist to Start the Year Right

As you look ahead into 2021, you may be wondering if there are specific procedures you should be implementing to set your insurance agency up for success and optimize your Applied Epic system. Below we share a few recommendations on items that we feel are important to check off this time of year.

Run Expiration Reports

This is the time of year when many employees are taking time off, so it is imperative to make sure they are aware of all policies that are renewing this month or in early January. Even if employees regularly receive Expiration reports, sending out more frequent reminders during the holiday season will help ensure expiring policies are addressed, which will, in turn, help you avoid a possible E&O exposure.

Employee Performance Reviews

This is typically a great time to meet with your employees and review their performance over the past year. If you have implemented employee auditing practices, you should review the results and utilize them for performance reviews. Auditing reports can be a crucial tool in determining which employees are doing a great job or require more guidance and training.

Clean-up Outstanding Balances and Premium Payables

Insurance Companies and clients will also have limited staff this time of year due to the holidays. Run an Aged Outstanding Current Balances report to view all outstanding client balances and send out statements early to avoid trying to collect or pay multiple outstanding invoices after the new year. Apply Debits and Credits throughout the month to get those cleaned up for Year-End. Running the Balancing Current Premium Payables report will help clean up any manually reversed transactions and identify any transactions that may be outstanding to the carrier or return premium to the agency for the year. This accounting step is especially important if your fiscal year ends in December.

System Clean-Up and Workflow Review

If you have specific configurations and workflows set up for your agency, this may be a good time to review them to ensure they still make sense for your agency processes and procedures. Start a discussion with your employees or use the employee audits (if implementing) to see if there are any gaps in workflow procedures that you should amend to increase efficiency.

New Product Research

Now is also an excellent time to research new products that integrate with Applied Epic. Programs like Indio, DocuSign, blueButler, or Salesforce can be great software additions to increase your agency’s efficiency and productivity. If most of your employees work remotely, these products can make that operation more seamless by automating certain processes. Learn how these products could benefit your agency. For example, Indio has a great feature that will copy duplicate information across multiple carrier applications saving you or the client from re-writing the same information over and over.

Checking off these items will set your agency up for continued success going into the new year. It is important to run reports periodically this month to make sure you address upcoming renewals and handle any outstanding balances. Touching base with employees and reviewing workflows will ensure continued efficiency within Applied Epic. Finally, take some time to research new products that can prove beneficial for further automating practices that save time and keep remote work seamless. If you would like assistance or guidance with any of these recommendations or would like to learn how we can help your agency utilize Applied Epic more effectively, contact us at consult@kitetechgroup.com.

Applied Epic Post-Migration: Steps for Continued Success

Did your agency just migrate to Applied Epic, or is in the process of migrating now? Regardless of the platform you are migrating from, transitioning your team to an entirely new system can feel daunting. If you have already completed the training provided and finished transferring your data, you now may be asking yourself, ‘What should be my next step for success?’ We’d like to offer some recommendations on additional steps that you can take to help your staff be fully prepared to utilize Applied Epic effectively and help you experience a successful migration.

Configure Epic to Fit your Agency

Before your employees start navigating Applied Epic, it is essential to configure it properly to fit your agency’s needs. This includes setting up field defaults, required vs. desired fields, folder structures, activity codes and categories, system events, tasks on activities, etc. For example, you can configure specific activity codes to only be visible to a particular department, which reduces options and ensures employees choose the code that best fits that workflow. It is imperative to configure Epic properly as soon as possible because once your employees start to use the system, changing certain settings and functions will be more challenging.

Set up Reports

Reports are a great way to track information entered in Epic. Setting up various reports ahead of time can help you audit your data to make sure information is entered correctly and moved through the different workflow stages timely. Reports can also help employees stay up to date on upcoming renewals, track new and loss business, and help you determine if information is missing on accounts (e.g., Servicing Roles, Estimated Premium/Commission, Pr/Br, and Agency Commission). Once your reports are set up, you can automate delivery to your employees and departments at a specific time or make them available in their Reports Quick View. Expiration Reports, for example, would be a great report to send to your employees’ Reports Quick View as they can refer to this report at any time to see which accounts have policies coming up for renewal.

Create & Standardize Your Workflows

To ensure that your employees clearly understand how to utilize Epic, you must create and standardize your agency workflows. Standardized workflows serve as a valuable guide your employees can follow as they learn the Epic platform and provide a reference for when they need guidance on a particular function. To ensure your workflows will work for everyone within the agency, we recommend that you have a team that includes a member from each department work together to create them.

Provide Additional Training

It is important to remember that as your agency continues to learn and grow within Applied Epic, it will be essential to continue providing additional training to your employees to develop their skills. If a workflow needs to be updated or changed, or employees are struggling to follow workflows, additional training will ensure continued growth and efficiency. You can use reports and perform audits to find possible inconsistencies with workflows and areas where additional training is needed.

Be Patient with the Process

Migrating to a new system can be stressful for both management and employees. It may be tempting to take aspects of how you used your old system and try to apply them in Epic because that is what you are used to doing. Epic has its own unique functions that are different from your old system. Your agency’s workflows are also going to be different, so it is crucial to avoid copying how you navigated your old system in Epic as it will only cause frustration in the long run. Trust the learning process and know that while Epic is an entirely different system, eventually, the workflows and structure will ‘click,’ becoming easier and more comfortable to navigate. Be patient with the process, ask questions, and refer to your workflows every step of the way.

Configuring Epic, setting up reports, standardizing workflows, and providing continued training are essential tools to implement after migration and will set your agency up for success with the Applied Epic platform. It is important to remember that learning a new system takes time, but that daunting feeling will not last forever. By managing your team’s expectations, continuing to have patience, and trusting the process, your agency will be Applied Epic pros in no time.

For help applying these practices or to learn how to utilize Applied Epic more effectively in your agency, contact us at consult@kitetechgroup.com for a free consultation.

 

Automating Your Workflows: Tips on Optimizing the Use of Applied Epic Download

The Download feature in Applied Epic is one that can automate tasks and create efficiencies in multiple areas: policy applications, transactions, activities, attachments, for example. While it does require some time to properly configure how Download will influence each of these components, once set up, you will find that having certain functions automated for you saves time and creates efficiency in your daily workload. Here are some features of Download and how they can prove beneficial when implemented into your workflows:

Consider Instant Download Versus Scheduled Download

It is standard to schedule Download to occur one to two times per day, the most common being once in the morning and once in the evening after work hours. Alternatively, you can implement Instant Download, which will pull updates from carriers as they occur throughout the day. Instant Download is particularly useful when it comes to important events like claims or reinstatements. In these cases, it is more beneficial to the insured and you as the Account Manager if Download updates a change to the account in real-time versus at a scheduled time, as it keeps their account the most up to date. Instant Download also takes away the large batches that often come with a scheduled Download: when Downloads are only occurring once or twice a day, the system can get clogged and take longer to process; however, when using Instant Download, they are processing in smaller batches as changes or updates occur, which takes less time to process.

Create Separate Download Transaction Codes from Agency Bill Transaction Codes

To keep an account updated and accurate, consider setting up separate Download transaction codes. Most of the time with Agency Bill, you would be billing the full annualized premium amount, applied to the Annualized field at the Policy or Line levels. But with Direct Bill, it is often difficult to determine if the amounts listed on a statement is for a total annualized premium, an endorsement, an installment, or just commission received. You can configure Epic to have the “Policy” download update your Annualized Premium and have a separate set of Direct Bill transaction codes that do not affect your Annualized Premium. This is a great way to prevent issues with transactions downloaded that may be classified as a renewal but are actually an installment, for example.

Configure EDOCs With Your Agency’s Naming Conventions & Folder Structure

When using EDOCs to attach policy documents, most of the time, the description is ‘Downloaded Policy’ or something similar. You can override the attachment descriptions to match your agency’s naming conventions by pulling in field defaults for Policy type, Effective Date, Policy Number, etc. However, it is important to note that this would not work for endorsements, as EDOC cannot decipher which Service Summary Row to pull the description from. It is also beneficial to set EDOCs to attach documents to the appropriate folder and subfolder, saving you from re-routing the attachments to the correct locations.

For the Activities screen, setting up unique EDOC activity codes that further specify what that activity contains is an easy way to distinguish what is coming in through EDOCs, saving you from clicking through activities to figure out what each is. For example, you can set up an ECLA code for downloaded Claims, an EREN code for downloaded Renewals, or an EPOL code for downloaded policies. You can even put descriptions on these codes like ‘Claims Document Download,’ which provides even more detail about each activity before opening it. Utilizing unique codes and descriptions makes searching for a specific document or activity easier as well.

Implement the Use of Download Activities Instead of Communication Log

While you are most likely used to a printed or emailed PDF Communication Log of what Download has imported each day, you might want to consider using Activities instead. Download Activities is especially important if you utilize the Instant Download feature – a Communication Log generated multiple times throughout the day would not be efficient for the system or your Account Managers. While you can change the report to run at a specific time rather than after each time a Download occurs, Activities will ultimately prove to be easier to manage, and they mirror the same information on the Communication Log.

With most employees now working from home, Download Activities is more practical than printing a daily Communication Log. It is better to keep the information in the system rather than having each Account Manager have multiple printed pages or PDFs to sort through and manage. Activities are also a great way to schedule your time and workload – if you cannot get to a particular activity or account that day, you can easily change the follow-up date on your Home Screen.

Setup Tasks on Download Activities

Though Download does provide a streamlined way to get through your daily workload by processing changes and attaching documents for you, it is still essential that the Account Manager review certain activities Download generates before closing them. Setting tasks on Download Activities provides a checklist for the Account Managers to ensure what Download processed is accurate and complete with no further actions needed for that workflow. Setting tasks prevents any E&O exposures as, while Download is a fantastic feature, it is still important to double-check your work.

To accommodate these Download features, you may find that some workflows may need to be updated, or additional training is necessary. However, proper configuration of each of these tools will lead to more efficiency within Applied Epic. Implementing Download can help you attach documents to accounts faster, provide an improved view of your daily activities and workload, and can update accounts instantly as changes occur. For more information or help setting up Download for your agency, contact us at consult@kitetechgroup.com for a free consultation.

Auditing Your Data In Applied Epic- More Important Now Than Ever Before

Like most companies, your agency’s staff has probably been working from home or coming to the office intermittently for the past few months. Moving and relocating employees and equipment to home offices earlier in the year was, I know, nothing short of a challenge. While things may have calmed down enough now where a new ‘normal’ has set in, it is essential to know that your staff is still following your agency’s workflows and that nothing was missed during that stressful transitional period. With so many employees continuing to work remotely for the foreseeable future, you may need to amend your agency’s workflows to accommodate the necessary changes required to make this new structure feasible.

There are numerous benefits to implementing auditing within your agency. With employees working remotely, it is essential to ensure that your agency’s workflows are followed and that the data entered in Applied Epic is accurate. Auditing enables your agency to evaluate your current workflows and determine what changes are required. Auditing can also be useful in assessing and balancing the workload among your employees, providing training opportunities, and even conducting performance reviews.

There are three main ways that you can audit your data in Applied Epic:

  • Reports
  • Data Audits
  • Procedural Audits

Though conducted differently, each of these methods of auditing can prove beneficial at ensuring that your agency’s workflows are standardized and followed; that information is entered correctly and promptly, thus lessening the threat of Errors & Omissions claims.

Reports

Auditing with reports provides a higher-level overview of data and processes in Applied Epic. Reports can be crucial to preventing potential Errors & Omissions claims as they offer an accurate read on policies and information that may be inaccurate or missed. One report we find the most useful, for example, is the Missed Renewals report. This report can show a list of policies that are coming up for renewal but have not yet been started in Epic. It can also identify policies that have already expired but were never renewed. You can set this report to run and automatically deliver to management for a department to review and reach out to the Account Manager handling the missed policy.

Reports are also helpful with pinpointing and solving discrepancies in workflows. A common occurrence we often see are policies that are still In Process or Submitted after an extended period. Policies should move through the stages from In Process to Submitted to Issued, so if it has been sitting at In Process or Submitted for quite some time, it is crucial to find out why. We recommend reviewing this report monthly to identify discrepancies and ensure workflows are followed promptly.

Data Audits

Data audits are a review of information in Applied Epic applications, policy documents, binders, proposals, and more. Though you can obtain some of this information through reports, it is best to manually perform data audits to ensure you are getting as much detail as possible. Data audits focus on making sure that information entered in Applied Epic and all corresponding documents match. For example, does the proposed coverage match the issued policy and the application in Epic? Data audits are an excellent way to identify and correct possible discrepancies between Proposed versus Issued Policy versus the Epic application.

Procedural Audits

Procedural audits will help your agency determine if your staff are correctly following workflows. This type of audit can help you evaluate the accuracy of naming conventions, attachment placement, binders issued, policy checked, marketing module use, and more. It can also help you decide if additional training is needed or if changes to your workflows are necessary. If you find that a workflow is consistently not followed, auditing can gauge whether the issue is with the workflow itself or if additional staff training is required. Procedural audits must be manually conducted as you cannot capture this type of information through just running reports.

If you are interested in implementing auditing practices, there are a few procedures that should be in place before you can get started. First, if you already have standardized workflows in place, make sure that appropriate training is provided to your employees. Next, create a plan of action for the results of your audits – what will you do with that information when you have it? As mentioned previously, auditing can be useful for data integrity purposes, workflow changes, additional training, and employee reviews. To get the most value from the data collected, you need to have established a plan for how you will use the results. Finally, determine which type of audit makes the most sense to implement for your agency. You can choose between reports, data, or procedural audits, or incorporate all three for best results.

When considering implementing auditing in your agency, it is also important to determine if you have the resources and expertise to conduct the work internally or if it makes sense to engage an external source. It is often more efficient for an agency to outsource auditing services as it’s one less task assigned to someone’s already full workload. The added benefit of outsourcing auditing is that it eliminates the possible conflicts that could result when you have agency staff auditing their own or other employees’ work.

If you are ready to enhance your agency’s performance in Applied Epic through auditing, Kite Technology’s Agency Consulting Division is here to help. Our experienced consultants understand that every agency is unique, and we will help you develop a tailored plan that best addresses your agency’s needs. Contact us today to learn more.

Tips and Tricks for Improving Reporting in Applied Epic

Applied Epic’s advanced customization can be tricky for the everyday user to put into practice. Especially when you don’t have the time to sit through a training course to take a deep dive into all the possibilities Epic has to offer. Couple that with the fact that Applied Epic is updated yearly to incorporate improved functionality, integrations and expanded capabilities that users need to learn.

That’s why we put together these tips to help improve your reporting processes and provide you with some practical tools to make work easier. Read through the tips below and, if you’d like to get some more support or training, reach out to our expert insurance consultants.

Our Top Tips for a Greater Understanding of Applied Epic Reports

A greater understanding of Applied Epic Reports leads to a more organized and efficient workflow to help your business grow. Here are our top tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your system.

My Reports and Main Reports

With the number of report customizations available in Applied Epic, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Start with understanding the Main Reports sections.

Applied epic dashboard

The Main Reports section contains all the default reports. Each section of these default reports pulls from a different set of data fields in Epic, and those data fields cannot be combined. For example, you can’t get information from a Transaction to show up on an Activity report, because Transaction data fields are separate from Activity data fields.

When you’re ready to work with one of the Main Reports, always copy to the My Reports section first before making modifications to ensure the default reports are kept intact. Once you’ve customized a report for the agency, you can place a copy in the Main Reports section so anyone with reports access can run that report. You may have an expiration report that should be set up for all account managers. By placing a copy in the Main Reports section, others can access that when you have a new employee and set it up to be delivered to them. Just be sure to label your reports and add a description whenever you build a new custom report, so you never forget how it should be used.

Criteria and Layout in Epic Reports

It’s important to remember the difference between criteria and layout when examining reports.

Criteria are how you can filter the information you want to appear in the report.

Layout is the data fields and sort that are included in the final report.

You may want to filter a report by Producer. In that case, you can add the criteria to a report and the report will run just for that one producer. However, if you don’t add Producer as a field on the Layout, you won’t see the producer name/code listed on the report. There are also several shortcuts in Layout you can use to avoid moving sections manually. Just highlight one section and use the Shift or CTRL key to highlight any others you want to include. Then use the tools at the top for alignment, resizing, and spacing.

outputbuilder

Every layout field is format-table, and you can change font, color and alignment to keep your page organized. You can also use Major Sort for your primary sorting option and grouping. For example, Book of Business by CSR > Major Sort by Servicing Role 1. Minor Sort is for additional sorting options like the Lookup Code for alphabetical order of accounts. Once you’re done, add a label and update the title of the report so you can use it again.

major sorts

Delivery Options

There are various delivery options for Applied Epic reports. Get to know them so you can be sure you’re using the best option to meet your needs. You have options to generate reports via print, email, pdf, Excel, and csv.

You can also easily schedule reports to be delivered to others via email. Any time you are running a report on a regular basis, you should set it up to be delivered automatically to save time and increase efficiency. You can also copy the report straight into another user’s My Reports page or deliver the report as a Quick View. Just remember to give access to My Reports in the user’s Security Group so they have permission to use that area of Epic.

Want to Learn More about Applied Epic?

To ensure that Epic is working exactly the way you need it, schedule a free consultation with a member of Kite Technology’s expert consulting team. We’ll review how you’re currently using the system and provide immediate feedback on ways to improve your performance. We can help you make the most of Applied Epic’s robust reporting features. Get in touch with us today to schedule your free consultation

Optimizing Your Agency’s Use of SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams

You are probably already familiar with and using Microsoft Office applications like Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but what about SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams? Have you explored how useful these applications can be to your insurance agency? They each provide valuable features that can improve your agency’s efficiency and modernize how you manage your documents and collaborate with your colleagues. We’re going to review how agencies can take advantage of the many features within SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams to improve collaboration and maximize productivity.

sharePoint

SharePoint – Agency Intranet and Document Management

SharePoint can provide tremendous value to your agency when utilized as an intranet. It is entirely configurable and can serve as your agency's information 'hub' that all employees can access. A company intranet is a great place to store important agency information like employee handbooks, training schedules, calendars, events, and much more.

SharePoint can also be an incredibly helpful tool when used for document management. It allows you to store, edit, and collaborate on documents from Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, all within one place. Have you ever asked for a report and received three different versions? SharePoint enables teams to work more effectively by focusing their time on developing great content, rather than wasting time figuring out who has the latest version. Your agency staff can save time by:

  • Grouping documents in Folders and Sub-folders to improve organization and ease of finding information

  • Emailing documents directly from SharePoint

  • Editing and collaborating on the same document simultaneously. 

Last but not least, SharePoint has enhanced security features, allowing you to control who can read or edit specific documents.

cloud

OneDrive – Safer Than Saving to Your Computer

Maybe you are working on a document or project that you are not quite ready to share or distribute. We've all had it drilled into our heads to save your work frequently; however, only saving it to your Desktop or My Documents is not the most efficient, and you are taking a gamble on the safety of that file. Computers are great until they stop working, and they could decide to stop working at any time. If that occurs- what happens to that project you were working on? If you only saved it to your Desktop or My Documents, the odds of retrieving that file could be slim depending on the extent of the technical issue.

With OneDrive, you get personal cloud storage for all of your files, documents, and projects. By saving your work to OneDrive, you will always be able to retrieve it from any device, anywhere. Not only that but after initially saving your document, OneDrive will periodically save your progress automatically, so you no longer need to worry about remembering to hit Save.

teams

Teams – Agency Communication and Collaboration

Microsoft Teams has been gaining more traction among agencies, especially within the last few months, with everyone working remotely. Having the ability to stay in touch with your co-workers and clients is now more critical than ever, and Teams helps you accomplish just that! Here are a few ways you can use optimize Teams for seamless communication and collaboration with your remote colleagues and clients:

  • Video Conferencing- Stay safe and reduce travel expenses by scheduling video conferencing calls for renewal meetings. Share files within that meeting to those in attendance and record the session for those unable to attend. You can even view and edit documents in real-time with clients or colleagues.

  • Chat Functionality- Send fewer emails and save time by texting quick questions to your colleagues via Chat. With as many emails as most of us receive throughout the day, why send more when you can just as easily type a quick chat message to that person instead? Even if they are not available at the time, they are more likely to see your notification on Teams first rather than your message in Outlook, where it can get lost among so many other emails.

  • Team Organization- Create a Team for each department to organize conversations and save time. For example, Commercial Lines does not need to see Personal Lines topics and vice-versa. Invite employees in those departments to their specific Team so that they will only see messages within their department.

  • Employee Engagement- Microsoft Teams doesn’t have to be all work and no play. With so many of us working remotely, being intentional about creating opportunities for positive employee engagement is more critical than ever if you want a thriving culture. Create a ‘Fun’ Channel in Teams as a place for your employees to plan, chat, and participate in fun activities. Ideas for your Fun Channel can be anything from Fitness Challenges to Book Clubs to Recipe Sharing – make it something fun that can be an outlet for your employees in-between or after those long workdays.

These are just a few of the ways your agency can take advantage of features within SharePoint, OneDrive & Teams to modernize document management, improve collaboration with colleagues and clients, and maintain a healthy culture. At Kite Technology, we take pride in helping our clients get the most from their technology investment so they can operate more effectively. To learn more about our insurance focused Managed IT and Consulting Services, please visit our website or contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation. 

How to Leverage SharePoint in a Modern Insurance Agency

Many agencies we work with have questions about how to use SharePoint and their agency management system together to increase efficiency.

For example, during a recent technical review with a new independent insurance agency client, we uncovered some surprising confusion and redundancy. In a positive step, the agency’s previous Managed Service Provider (MSP) had migrated their on-premise file server to SharePoint. However, by doing it haphazardly, they lost the opportunity to:

  • Organize the data
  • Avoid duplication with files in their agency management system
  • Take advantage of SharePoint’s numerous storage and collaboration features

Unfortunately, that agency’s experience in moving their file server contents to SharePoint was akin to packing everything from your old house into one large box, then trying to restore the contents to the appropriate rooms at the new house.

We were happy to be able to reorganize their SharePoint data after the fact, but we want to share the lessons learned with other agencies about integration between their agency management system and SharePoint.

5 Lessons for Helping Agencies Improve Collaboration

Lesson 1: Know What Goes in SharePoint vs. Your Agency Management System

Your agency management system will always be the secure and appropriate repository for all insured entity-specific documents such as commission statements and carrier agreements. On the other hand, SharePoint is an ideal and complementary repository for all other documents that don’t specifically reference an insured entity. These document types include:

  • Forms, templates, and applications
  • Policy documents and workflow manuals
  • HR documentation, financial data, and marketing collateral

In addition to providing file storage, SharePoint integrates with all the essential Microsoft productivity apps and provides a secure, user-friendly portal for accessing files and collaborating.

The division of files and data between your agency management system and SharePoint[GD2] can be confusing and nuanced. Here at Kite, we know SharePoint, agency management systems, and the insurance compliance framework allowing you to leverage our knowledge to capitalize on the benefits and features of both SharePoint and your agency management system.

Lesson 2: SharePoint and OneDrive Work Together but Have Different Uses

SharePoint is a robust file storage and collaboration suite that brings together numerous productivity apps, including Word, Excel, and other Microsoft staples. OneDrive is one of these apps, and many users are understandably confused about the difference between OneDrive and SharePoint.

In the simplest terms, OneDrive is intended for individual users to store documents in the cloud. While SharePoint is a comprehensive storage and collaboration platform for multiple users.

For example, while an individual employee is in the process of drafting a new policy document, that document would reside in a OneDrive folder which is stored as identical copies on their device and in the OneDrive cloud. OneDrive enables the user to sync the document across multiple devices and share the draft document with others, even to the point of extending read-only and read-write permissions to various users.

That’s about where the collaboration features of OneDrive end. Once the document is ready to be deployed across a broader audience, such as a project team, department, or the entire organization, the wide-ranging functionality of SharePoint takes over.

Lesson 3: SharePoint Puts Collaboration Tools at Your Fingertips

In a recent teleconference with a new client, a project manager asked his teammates on the call to retrieve a particular checklist. Among the 5 attendees, 3 retrieved old versions of the checklist, and 1 claimed not to have access to it. SharePoint solves this problem and does much more.

Storage, Collaboration, and Communication

SharePoint is a cloud-based storage platform that provides all users access, at the same time, with version-tracking so users can see who made which changes to the files and when. This means every team member is always up-to-date and able to collaborate effectively. SharePoint also takes you way beyond the conventional file-cabinet-like collection of folders and subfolders. It organizes your documents within a secure, user-friendly portal that features personalized news bulletins and notifications allowing you to communicate efficiently with your team members.

Lesson 4: Make a Plan Before Migrating to SharePoint

Your business can deploy SharePoint in a variety of ways, but the keys to success are planning, preparing, and getting the support of a knowledgeable MSP partner. Here are three common approaches our clients follow:

  1. Maintain the traditional desktop experience for your employees while migrating documents to OneDrive and SharePoint using the OneDrive desktop app to sync and update files on the cloud.
  2. Select one department or a small group of users to migrate their documents to OneDrive and SharePoint. Then expand the adoption incrementally to other departments or teams. This approach leverages the desktop sync app and the mobile and web versions of OneDrive and SharePoint.
  3. Adopt SharePoint and OneDrive across the entire agency all at once. This approach is successful after you’ve developed a comprehensive strategy. The outcome is that the agency fully leverages the desktop sync app and both the mobile and web versions of OneDrive and SharePoint.

Remember that one box packed with all of your household goods for moving? The SharePoint migration approach you choose is a lot like how you decide to pack the things from your old house to move into a new one. There are a variety of ways to do it, and the best choice is the one that helps you feel organized and in control. What you certainly don’t want to do is wait until the last minute and throw everything together into one big box without labels, dividers, or bubble wrap.

Lesson 5: Get Migration Support from Trusted Experts

Making a transition always seems daunting at first, but, in the case of SharePoint, you’ll improve your collaboration and productivity with the right support and training. We have a library of onboarding and skills-development trainings – including both webinars and instructional videos. We also have a wide variety of additional media and methods which incorporate more advanced, personalized training that corresponds to your unique needs and SharePoint adoption strategy.

The way to determine which approach is right for your agency is to engage with a trusted, experienced MSP that works with independent insurance agencies and gets to know the details of your specific agency, workflow, and employees.

If you are interested in more information, a personalized consultation, or are raring to get started, drop us a line by email or call 855-290-5483. We’ll get you the answers, solutions, and support you need.

 

What’s New with Applied Epic 2020?

With the new release of Applied Epic 2020 coming your way soon, there are a multitude of new features and improvements that will better optimize your performance and make daily navigation through Applied Epic more seamless and efficient. Here are just a few features you can expect with the new update:

1. Contact clients directly from your home screen

Contact Name and Contact Via will now be Select Columns options, which populate contact information associated with an Activity or Opportunity. If a client’s preferred method of contact is Email or SMS a hyperlink will show up in that column, which you can click on and get in touch with that client all from your Home Screen.

2. Apply address changes to multiple areas of a client’s account

Another great feature with the new release will be the ability to apply address changes to multiple areas of a client’s account. A new Apply Address to Other Items button will now be an option on the client and contact detail screens, allowing you to copy an address over to different areas of an account. This will come with a new system event – @ADC – as well as an Excel Spreadsheet that will attach to the client account so you can track and confirm these changes.

3. Improved protection of client credit card information

With data security being of utmost importance now more than ever, Applied Epic is making sure client information is even more protected by removing the ability to enter or store credit card information. This will include all credit card information previously stored and payment authorization screens in policy application detail will no longer show this data.

These are some of the many great updates and additions that will be a part of the 2020 release – be sure to check back with us next month for more highlights and tips that will better improve your agency’s productivity and performance within Applied Epic.

adam atwell

Adam Atwell

Cloud solutions architect

Adam is passionate about consulting with organizations across the country to help them develop and execute a cloud adoption strategy that meets their business needs and future objectives. Adam oversees and manages our company strategy for Microsoft 365 adoption and is responsible for future growth and development inside Microsoft 365 and other cloud technologies.