Continuous improvement, innovation, exploration and collaboration. We caught up with Laura Simpson, Kirsten Britland and Isabelle Hirst from our Pricing team to hear about a recent project they worked on together, which turned an observation into a business changing innovation that benefits both our colleagues and members.

How did this project come about?
Laura and I both work in the Pricing team, and we're constantly looking at ways to drive efficiency and growth through technological improvement. One of the areas Laura focused on recently involved an assessment of the way we approach pricing for large claims. What we were doing was good, but it involved a dependency on particular software skills, which weren’t necessarily readily available in the wider team. Sharing responsibility and knowledge was an opportunity to significantly improve what we do, whilst at the same time reducing the time it takes to do it.

So, it's an invention designed to make some key business decisions easier?
That’s exactly right, it's an interactive dashboard that deals with the statistical techniques in the background enabling users at varying experience levels, to make quick and educated decisions. This means users can gather the information they need more quickly, allowing them to arrive at the right pricing model faster. Saving time for everyone.

Can you tell us how you got the project started?
Well, firstly I spoke to my team. I’m surrounded by a group of innovative women who have the complementary skills I needed to see the project through. Once they’d seen my proposal, we agreed a plan for accelerating the project. Isabelle is fantastic at supporting with technical advice, Kirsten is my manager and supported the work by prioritising it in the team plans and promoting the work within the department.

Kirsten: We connected with colleagues across the business to understand the appetite for the project and to learn how they work so I could help to improve the process. Laura also discussed this work with Amy Shields, who is an actuary in the Financial Risk team. We wanted to find out the techniques they use and to make sure that we were taking the best approach in this piece of work.

Has the project been a success?
Yes. In many ways. Cross-team networking has been a huge success and as I'll be using the tool in my own team, I can see so many benefits to it. I think it's also been valuable in terms of personal development for me and Laura, and we've spoken a lot about feeling the benefit of such exposure to different ideas, different people and different ways of working. As for the improvement, we've created an interactive and time-saving dashboard that improves the way we price large claims, which we believe will make things so much easier for everyone. Early testing is showing that it's performing exactly how we expected it to. And of course, increasing our accuracy and efficiency can only benefit our members.

It sounds like a project to be proud of?
That’s a great question, I am proud of the work we have done and grateful that NFU Mutual sees the importance and the benefit of innovative pieces of work like this. Kirsten: The product is statistically complex in the background, but brilliantly simple for the user. I think that’s the mark of great innovation. And I’m proud of the wider team. There are always challenges in every project, but the autonomy and the support provided when it's needed has been outstanding.

Laura: I’m proud of the difference this is making to the fast-paced environment that is pricing. This interactive dashboard is giving more people more time back to focus on other areas of their work that needs as much attention as pricing for large claims.

What’s the secret to delivering projects like this?
It’s two things really. Freedom and team. My work is all about seeing opportunities to improve the way we operate. This autonomy to explore and discover is something that I really value in my role. Having a like-minded team that motivate and support each other is vital to our success.

Isabelle: Together, we’re only as good as the relationships we build with the wider business. This involvement at all levels and with different departments emphasises the culture of continuous improvement we have as a business.

What impact has the project had on your personal development?
The project has been valuable for the development of both my technical and planning skills throughout the three-month project life cycle. The regular check-ins, the meetings with people from other departments, the support from every team member I work with, and the knowledge gained, have all had a huge impact on how I feel about my role, my team and my work.

What’s next on your innovation list?
Well, I’m still involved in the dashboard. Measuring and monitoring how it performs and fine-tuning the details to make it the best it can be. As for the next innovation, I have recently submitted a business case through our departments annual 'Innovation Showcase'. This scheme is a great opportunity for people to propose changes to the way we work and be provided with support and time to implement business improvements.

Want to join a pricing team where innovation is at the centre of everything we do? Take a look at our current vacancies.