Mary Ann Erickson

Workflow Systems Engineer, Allianz Partners

Supernova Award Category: 

Digital Marketing Transformation and Sales Effectiveness

The Company: 

Allianz Partners is the worldwide leader in travel insurance and global assistance services. We consistently provide immediate assistance to our customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Allianz Partners is a full-service insurance company owned by financial services giant Allianz.  Our approach to servicing our customers anytime, anywhere also speaks to our culture and how we care about our employees and the communities we work in.

Across the globe, we have six global lines of business including Travel Insurance, Tuition Insurance, Event Protection, Assistance Services, Bankcard Services and Partner Services.  Our 19,000 global employees work out of 78 countries, creating a global family dedicated to servicing our partners and customers.

The Problem: 

We got started w/ one simple goal — a replacement system to manage tickets for requests of marketing communications and regulatory compliance approval of creative collateral.  We needed to replace a discontinued tool used by non-marketing departments to make work ticket requests of Creative and Compliance team members. With work coming from everywhere, small but growing teams sought to provide visibility into all requests, better manage deadlines, increase collaboration, and simplify communication. A workflow solution was needed by the end of 2014 to help prioritize the work to make it more manageable because the organization was growing in huge numbers and very quickly and that was driving this necessity for adjustment.

Each of our teams had been working independently for a long time, so they didn’t see a lot of need for change. Each team felt they were unique and independent of one another — a lot of our teams were made up of 1 to 3 people — so, at the time, they didn’t need detailed, documented processes — they all typically accomplished their work in what I term the “GSD” method — Get “Stuff” Done!  And we were successful, continuous profit and revenue growth year over year — but we were growing and growing fast, our teams having grown to 10 members or more — exponential growth in a short period of time. The GSD method just wasn’t going to work for us anymore.

The Solution: 

We learned, at the end of the day, we were much more alike than different.  Every team, every department had the same basic needs for improvement. We quickly designed and implemented a creative project request replacement solution in Workfront.

Soon after, other teams realized how expeditious and efficient the tool was and they wanted to use it for similar tasks such as: a request queue, a view for all work requests across teams and departments, and the ability to prioritize work to ensure production in the most timely and efficient manner.  It didn’t take long before individual team goals grew into enterprise-level realizations.  We found it necessary to identify not only what was needed in the moment but also for the future growth pattern — helping us level up as a team from GSD to strategic planners to high performance delivery — allowing for radical transparency and collaboration.

The Results: 

Enterprise application seems complex and it can be, but you can make the complicated simple.  We simplified our chaos and complexities by implementing Workfront and that implementation is continuing to evolve across the enterprise as a whole. Now more and more teams manage this way. It’s an ecosystem of people and process to combine with Workfront to enable consistent organizational performance and true competitive advantage.

  • We can now accept requests from 3 regions and 39 countries around the world
  • We can now produce, review, approve, manage and deliver work requests globally
  • We've returned 30+ hours per week back to teams to allow for more focus on strategy, creativity and innovation vs. day-to-day administrative research, execution and follow-up
  • Research and follow-up for sales collateral has improved significantly and the sales users can now service themselves to find collateral and pull audit materials
  • Reduced 15-day SLA for regulatory compliance review and approval to a 5-day SLA w/ 80% of work items returned within 1 day of submission.
  • We've achieved a 93% usage model and an 84% user satisfaction rate for our Workfront application
  • We saved approximately $20M in potential outside agency fees (completing more than 500+ projects through our in-house agency)
  • We passed our global market management audit in 2017 with the highest, ever recorded audit scores and major kudos from our CEO
The Technology: 


Disruptive Factor: 

One major disruptive factor was (and often still is) the initial ease and user comfort of communicating via email and creating simple spreadsheets or documents to fulfill work requests. The question that I continuously ask though, “Is it going to be that easy to go back and find that solution and/ or audit that information at a later date?” – and the answer is almost always no. Change can be difficult, yet we have learned that we must force ourselves to create new habits so that it becomes more of a business as usual process. Some teams are better than others at implementing this idea, but we are all making forward progress toward this goal. The other would be enterprise-level implementation of Agile and Lean methodologies. This has been quite a change from the traditional PMP/ Waterfall/ Traditional progressive type project management to which we are accustomed. We have had similar issues here in that it is often easier to revert back to what you are comfortable with, than to transition to the new way of doing things.

Shining Moment: 

We received the Workfront Judge’s Choice Lion Award at Leap 2018. We received top scores in each of the 3 categories Optimization Expert, Innovator and Change Leader. Workfront partnered with Fortune Magazine to "wrap" three consecutive issues with Workfront content for a targeted group of prospects. Our team was chosen to be featured in one of the issues. In August, I was awarded Finance Collaboration Employee of the Month.

About Allianz Partners

Allianz Partners is a leading consumer specialty insurance and assistance company. We provide insurance to 35 million customers annually and are best known for our Allianz Travel Insurance plans. In addition, Allianz Partners offers tuition insurance, event ticket protection, and unique travel assistance services such as international medical assistance and concierge services.