ResourcesCase StudiesHealthcare Insurance: Transforming with Custom Training

Healthcare Insurance: Transforming with Custom Training


A large healthcare insurance agency founded more than 150 years ago and known for being an industry innovator was facing a number of challenges.

The Affordable Care Act had changed the landscape of health insurance, and this company was one of several insurance companies that suffered significant losses with ACA-compliant products in 2016. While profitability improved in 2017, the organization realized it needed to transform from a health insurance company to a healthcare company.

The Challenge

The company had a massive portfolio of products that were hard for customers to understand and were not differentiated sufficiently from one another — or from competitive offerings. As with many companies, the organization’s Product Managers often built whatever Sales requested, adding plan options to an already extensive portfolio. Products weren’t developed to align with overall company goals or desired business outcomes. What’s more, products that required process or software changes would go through a lengthy review and development process that slowed down time to market. Even worse, there was no consistent process to follow to identify customer problems, market size and situation, or potential for profitability.

The lack of consistent processes was compounded by inconsistent skill levels across teams, and a lack of understanding about the roles and responsibilities of a Product Manager. The organization needed to incorporate more innovation into its product process, but the Product Managers lacked the expertise they
needed to move forward.

In support of becoming a healthcare company, the recently hired VP of Product Management set out to build a set of products aligned to achieve the company’s aggressive goals. To do this would require a dramatic change in product management.

Finding the Right Partner

The VP of Product Management formed a small team who’s goal was to build a world-class product management team that could better identify real customer needs. The team would use “whole product thinking” to build new products that solved customer problems, by providing not just health insurance but healthcare services. They were tasked with refining the product portfolio to reduce confusion and differentiate products from the competition.

To achieve those goals, the team needed a partner that would help them:

  • Refine the new product management process to incorporate more best practices and customize the process to work effectively.
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities for Product Managers and all of their stakeholder groups, so that everyone could work toward achieving common goals.
  • Establish a common language for how Product Managers and their cross-functional teams operate across the company’s many different groups and divisions for more efficiency and synergy.
  • Increase and up-level the skill sets of Product Managers, many of whom come from diverse backgrounds, such as business analysts, project managers, business develooment managers, IT services managers, and solution partners.
  • Increase the confidence of the company’s Product Managers in their ability to tackle current challenges and achieve their strategic goals.

After an extensive evaluation, the company chose Productside to deliver this training based on our ability to customize training to meet their needs, our deep product management expertise, and our commitment to become a long-term, trusted partner.

The Discovery Process

Productside assigned a strategic consultant to work with a subject matter expert (SME) and PM Excellence Champion at the client organization. This consultant took the time needed to understand the company’s needs, study its existing processes and tools, and research the state of its market challenges. Productside’s consultant worked closely with the client to review the course syllabus together, identify areas to expand or modify, and tailor the course to the organization’s specific needs.

Once a draft was completed, the organization was given the opportunity to review the new syllabus and the updated exercises and identify areas in which examples specific to the healthcare industry would be particularly important. The client was particularly happy with this customization process. “We’ve done lots of other training classes with other vendors, and none went as smoothly or were as effective as they have been with Productside,” said the Champion.

The Solution

The client organization brought its first 25 students to the course and were very happy with the results of the customized 2-day training. Based on course feedback, the client requested the course be expanded by another half day, to allow for better pacing and provide more time for exercises and team interaction. With a quick turn, Productside was able to expand the course to meet the client’s revised scope, and the next course was on its way the next month!

After more than 150 Product Managers were trained, the client identified a second need: training those team members around the Product Managers to make product core teams more effective. Following the same customization process, Productside developed a 1-day course to introduce team members from IT, project management, business development, and marketing to the new product management process. Students in this course learned the roles and responsibilities of a Product Manager, the tools and processes Product Managers follow, what to expect from a Product Manager, and how to support them in their work. This enabled core tearm members to work together more efficiently, using a common language and process.

The Results

Now in its fourth year, Productside’s partnership has helped the client achieve many of its goals:

  • Reduced preliminary development planning cycles by 60%, from over 10 weeks to under 4 weeks.
  • Deployed a new product management process that includes a Conceive phase for a more effective way to identify customer problems, and a Retire phase to end products that are no longer providing value.
  • A clear, consistent process for using data to advance high ROI opportunities and eliminate less profitable offerings from the company’s product portfolio.
  • Aligned more than 300 Product Managers and partners to the new product management process, with a clear understanding of product management roles and responsibilities.
  • Established experimental processes that offer the potential for faster, cheaper product concept testing.

In working with Productside, one team leader remarked:

“We found a real partnership — not just a vendor coming in and giving us a training class. We had many challenges to tackle, but Productside rolled up their sleeves and helped us move forward. Not only did we get the training we needed, but we received expert advice on areas we could improve in our processes. Productside went above and beyond to help us transform our product management teams, and we look forward to continuing to partner with them as we evolve our business for the 21st century.”

Do you want to achieve this kind of long-term success for your Product Management organization? Contact us to learn how.

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