Every ten years or so, it seems like we are confronted with a set of circumstances that have a profound impact on our way of life. First, it was 9/11. Then it was the 2008 Financial Meltdown. Now it’s the Coronavirus Pandemic. As I have watched these events unfold, I am amazed at how resilient and adaptable we are as a species. We adjust to the circumstances and rise to the challenge each crisis presents. And as we gain experience, we become, in the words of Nassim Taleb, “antifragile”1 – we benefit from shock. In other words, that which does not kill us makes us stronger.
The Pandemic is no different. Our customers continue to conduct operations in the most challenging of circumstances. We have seen few outages and impacts across our customer base. From investments in automation and cloud infrastructure, our customers continue to provide their clients with the innovative products and services they are accustomed to and that have made them all market leaders. They are open for business.
At Instec, we are open for business as well. The Pandemic has not had any impact on our operations. In fact, I believe we have been better prepared for this crisis than most of the ones we have faced. There are three things that have helped us and our customers:
1. Cloud Leverage
We have invested heavily in cloud infrastructure. Our software has been cloud-ready since 2012. Leveraging Microsoft Azure, we have automated most of the management of our customer instances so we can manage more customers with fewer people.
In addition, we have invested heavily in allowing our employees to work remotely. We have always valued our employees, so in those cases where life led them to another state, we let them work remotely. We have now had over 12 years of experience doing this. And the model scales up quite nicely to the rest of the company using Microsoft® Teams and other technologies.
2. Short Implementations
Our delivery model is built for faster implementation times. We start from a fully working system with a comprehensive ISO library, so we simply need to build out customizations. (And we deliver the latest ISO updates 90 to 120 days ahead of effective date as a standard part of our product.) While normally we review filings with customers onsite, we are adept at doing the gap analysis remotely using Microsoft Teams. The heavy reuse of ISO and other bureau content drives down project development effort, shortens project schedules, and provides a lighter project footprint where less can go wrong. (It would be interesting to see how the large build-to-order projects of the “market leaders” are faring. To date, the anecdotal evidence I have heard is “not well”).
3. Shared Risk
The last but most important thing that has prepared us for this crisis is the mindset of serving our customers. Because of our GWP-based pricing, we have shared skin in the game. And we’re a 100% employee-owned company. We win when our clients win. This has translated into a mindset of going the extra mile for our customers to get the job done.
Currently, we are in the home stretch of bringing up multiple programs in ninety days or less. A challenging feat in normal times, doing this during a pandemic has been an extraordinary achievement that we share with our customer teams.
We also serve our customers by providing them assistance (some via partners) with filings, stat reporting, and state DOI calls. The bottom line is that we are focused on solving problems that would otherwise prevent our customers from writing premium. A pandemic is no different. It’s another set of challenges.
We will get through this pandemic. And we will emerge stronger than ever as a company, as an industry, and as a nation. In the meantime, Instec is open for business. If there is anything we can do to help, we would love to hear from you. Until then, please stay safe.
 Taleb, Nassim Nicholas. Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder. New York: Random House. Nov 27, 2012.
Kevin Mason has worked in many aspects of software development since 1981, including roles as product strategist, software development methodologist, project manager, and technology architect for companies such as Cincinnati Bell Information Systems, SHL Systemhouse (now part of EDS), AGENCY.COM, and GENECA. He joined Instec in 2008 and is responsible for development associated with all products. He holds a BA in Political Science, from the University of Iowa and an AS in Computer Science.