Insurance group DELA aims to ensure that everyone can afford an honourable funeral. Founded in 1937, DELA has now grown into an organization with more than 4 million active members across the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. Over the years, the insurance group has made some great achievements: one of which is being named the ‘Best place to work’ in the Netherlands. Not only their employees are satisfied, but their customers are as well, as reflected in their Net Promotor Score. We interviewed Alfo Melisse, CIO at DELA and asked him what has led to DELA’s many successes.
DELA has scored well on the ‘Best place to work’ rankings in the Netherlands. What is your focus for the upcoming years?
"We think it is important to score high on employee satisfaction, but also on reputation” Alfo mentions. “The business model we have is based on profit distributions. We are currently entering a new strategic cycle which makes it difficult to share the exact vision for the upcoming years. We DO know that we want to optimize the customer journey around funerals and funeral insurance. This requires a
Just as we want to score well on employee satisfaction, we also want to score well on think reputation is an important aspect to score well on," says Alfo. The business model we have is based on profit distributions and we are currently on the eve of a new strategic cycle, which makes it difficult to tell the vision for the coming years. But we already know that we want to greatly improve the customer journey for funeral care and funeral insurance. This requires an impactful change, a transformation in the IT landscape to enable what we want to achieve in terms of customer journeys." When asked what challenges DELA faced with regard to the design of customer journeys, Alfo answers: "In the initial phase, we focused on the way in which we would shape the customer-oriented work program. To this end, we have drawn up a transformation plan with points for improvement and how to achieve them. That was actually the moment when Mavim came to mind."
"Mavim has helped us organize communication around the change in a transparent and more reliable way, also known as our 'single point of truth'."
"The role we intended for Mavim was to capture the transformation itself and the models to be used so that everyone could see at any time where we want to go, what the current situation is and how we should describe and specify the changes. With this we wanted to prevent information from getting hidden in the organization, in the minds of individuals or in a PowerPoint file of which you did not know what the latest version was. So it was actually organizing the communication around the change in a transparent and more reliable way, also called the 'single point of truth'."
What makes the transformation at DELA so complex?
Alfo puts his finger on the sore spot: "The transformation that we had at the time and the two new transformations bring with it a new complexity, because what has changed over the years is that the pressure from regulations has increased enormously and having so-called 'hygiene factors' demonstrably in order has brought an extra burden with it. This means that in recent years we have been working on a framework for integrated risk management, which is quite extensive. This involves 130 controls that you want to have continuous insight into in order to know how we are doing."
"In the meantime, we have created a framework that can be used in the execution of our daily activities. Soon we hope to take the step to generate our compliance reports almost automatically instead of the weeks of work that go into being demonstrably compliant every year before De Nederlandse Bank comes to visit." Alfo continues: "An important issue here is that people start behaving themselves according to the rules that we have drawn up. That is not an easy challenge because we are an organization where we attach great importance to involvement, but where we also demand a high degree of autonomy in the daily actions of employees. In addition, such a compliance framework provides a kind of framework where people can get the feeling that a piece of autonomy is being taken away from them. So on the one hand we find that freedom very valuable, but at the same time there is no choice in the follow-up and we have to become more normative in the implementation. Where we are, we also see that there is follow-up when people start to understand and see how it works. Then that will also gradually be followed as if it were an oil slick that spreads in the organization."
Alfo realizes that "spreading like an oil slick" sounds easy, but that a lot of energy will have to be put into making people perform permanently on hygiene factors.
"With the integrated risk framework in Mavim, we can achieve a serious reduction in the cost of compliance."
How does the DELA risk framework help to become and remain compliant?
"We have a valuable framework, but it would be even more valuable in the future if not all the manual work is needed to keep track of where we are on a daily basis. That this can take place automatically. In our landscape with everything we have done in terms of data management, we are very close to making automatic links there to achieve compliance. I hope we'll be there in some time."
Alfo thinks that this will yield efficiency gains that they can only dream of now. He continues: "If we have then created that situation where the control framework is actually automatically fed by the execution that takes place in the IT landscape, then we are only a small distance away from changes that occur compared to the standard to report it and address it to those responsible for it. The moment that is 'in place', we have already achieved a kind of continuous compliance."
DELA has focused strongly on continuous compliance. According to Alfo, the so-called 'cost of compliance' will decrease radically in the short term. At the moment, they still report to about seven reporting lines from parties that all want to know how IT is doing and what individual reports are made for. The moment - by sending a link - people can assess what is shown in the integral risk framework, a significant reduction in the cost of compliance can be realized.
DELA therefore uses the Mavim Platform for compliance issues. Are there any other challenges you use the Mavim Platform for?
Alfo replies that Mavim is also used to implement changes. “That's really where it started and this is still the most important aspect because this is where most of the costs are involved. Because of the formalism in specifying changes and by including these changes in a process, I am convinced that the change costs will also decrease.”
“The great thing is that in the combination of the risk framework and the specifications for the transformations, they reinforce each other. Ultimately, this results in better quality, which in turn leads to lower costs. “
“An important aspect here is how employees experience it, because if it is not 'bought' in the workplace, accepted, or people don't believe in it, it soon dies a silent death and, as is the case with many initiatives: if you cannot keep, then the dream dies.”
The involvement of employees plays an important role in this, Alfo knows. “We see employees who are working hard to realize and make changes. They strive for that every day. However, they do have difficulty taking the people around them into it. But we are gradually seeing more improvement in that: once they see and understand it, then acceptance and adoption will come.” Because of the conversations Alfo had with Mavim, he knew from the start that this could be a bottleneck, that the adoption of changes is primarily something that only sticks with the architects, that does not spread further in the organization and thus does not affect the creates leverage that you would like. “Our experience is that Mavim has been extremely helpful in this regard. A number of consultants have really helped us - with enormous motivation and lasting belief in their own product - to get this accepted and to give the first interpretation to start, give it a 'boost' and then take us further and further, and help when needed. Then when you have captured so much information in Mavim for managing compliance and transformations, you have actually created an environment where you also want to have a collaboration layer that allows people to collaborate effectively on specifications, process descriptions and risks .”
"The great thing about the combination of the risk framework and the specifications for the transformations is that they reinforce each other. Ultimately, this results in better quality, which in turn leads to lower costs."
“Those collaboration mechanisms are well represented in Mavim, which means that people automatically receive 'triggers' when it is time to do another check or when an action is required to execute a process and report back. Or with which feedback is obtained from an employee on a process step because they think this can be done smarter or better or to get corrected if something is not described properly. So collaboration is also one of the things that is well organized and that helps people on their way to also properly maintain this source of truth.”
Process mining is currently a 'hot' theme. Is DELA also involved in this?
Alfo confirms that Mavim has now added process mining as functionality to their toolset, but notes that DELA has been involved in process mining before. "Although this is a method that is not yet well understood by the entire organization, it is an excellent way to test - in addition to your compliance steps, which we record in the risk framework , - how we actually do the process execution as retrieved with information by process mining.
We have experienced that in recent years we deviated from the described processes; that people have started to do work differently. With process mining, we can see that those differences are there. How wonderful it is if you can follow an initiative for realizing one way of working with process mining, monitor it to see if we actually do that and if we deviate from that that we also get the trigger again. Because if there is a group of people structurally doing something else and that might be better, then you can adjust it. But if it's not better, you have to be able to whistle them back to follow the process as intended."
Alfo summarizes his argument with: "To make what I just described a bit more concrete, this for us actually means that we quickly see when we deviate from the customer journey as we intended and described it in the process. Or that we notice that the customer journey, which we believe provides excellent customer service, is not realized in practice, because we monitor whether that is actually the case."