How a customized software solution transformed a small business by consolidating four primary systems into one to improve functionality, efficiency and business growth.

 

Overview

Antares, a technology solutions company specializing in custom software development, undertook a 12-month-long project for the development of a custom, cohesive integrated insurance system for the Louisiana Insurance Pest Control Association (LIPCA), an insurance agency that was created and is operated by pest management professionals and their families. Prior to the project, LIPCA operated four different applications to run their business. Antares’ objective was to develop a single software package that allows users to:

  • Streamline activities
  • Eliminate human error
  • Automate insurance policy creation and binding workflow
  • Provide built-in, configurable business rules to eliminate errors in underwriting

Challenge

Using these various systems, each agent was spending an exorbitant amount of time to complete each task. Many manual jobs and work-arounds were necessary to get the job done. With limited automation and validation, reports produced were also prone to error. Commercially available software packages did not provide staff members with the ability to execute their key business functions efficiently. The challenge was to create a simpler way to create quotes, bind policies and issue forms. The goal was to provide a custom workflow solution allowing:

  • Underwriting
  • Claim tracking
  • Accounting
  • Reporting
  • Other insurance line-of-business functionality

Solution

Antares worked closely with LIPCA leadership to design and implement the Complete Insurance Rating Claims and Accounting (CIRCA) software as a custom solution to consolidate all needs. CIRCA integrates the four primary systems into one package. With CIRCA, LIPCA now has all the functionality needed to add any line of insurance or any carrier. CIRCA also allows internal company administrators to integrate Department of Insurance regulations as required. Included is a record retention and attachment system to aid in handling all document needs and functionality allowing administrators to create or modify forms, which previously required a programmer.

Results

Since the implementation of CIRCA, LIPCA has doubled their business without doubling their staff, and staff members no longer work on weekends. In addition to the core functionality of creating quotes, binding policies and issuing forms, CIRCA also promotes efficiency through these additional key features:

  • Issuing certificates of insurance
  • Processing all endorsements
  • Invoicing directly to issuers or agencies/brokers
  • Accepting multiple payment types, including checks, credit cards or financing
  • Including invoices and statements in monthly billing
  • Higher level of detail on invoices and reporting documents
  • Premiums, coverages and limits can be used in various capacities
  • Issuing policies
  • Filing taxes
  • Allowing administrators to complete regulatory changes
  • A built-in accounting module
  • Tracking loss ratios for claims for each insured person
  • Automatically creating renewal quotes

These features provide exactly what staff and administrators at LIPCA need to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently to better serve clients. Antares’ support and maintenance is ongoing for the project and will continue as LIPCA continues to enhance the system. The project was so successful that LIPCA was approached by Berkley Program Specialists about acquiring the CIRCA software package. Antares and LIPCA have been working to finalize various product offerings, which include competitive pricing, implementation packages and other ongoing maintenance and support programs.

Conclusion

A common trait for many companies is dealing with the software they already have in place, even though it’s not the most efficient. On the other hand, many other companies make significant investments into the best software, only to realize it doesn’t offer the specific features needed to help employees do their jobs efficiently and grow their business.

06/08

2018

The Software Development Dilemma: Project or Position?

As with most decisions, the decision to approach software development as a project or as a position comes down to two factors: time and money. If your business has the resources to hire on a full-stack developer and you see lots of app development in your company’s future, the expense of a new employee may be worthwhile. On the other hand, if your software development needs are limited, outsourcing projects to a qualified, competent software development company is the most time and cost efficient approach.

Time

Time is of the essence when it comes to putting software on the market. Whether you need an app to expedite customer service or a cloud-based intranet to improve your company workflow, you probably needed it “yesterday.” It can be a challenge for one developer to meet the deadlines of a company that’s ready to grow today.

In addition to handling all of the requests and requirements that come with any software development project, a new employee or contractor has to be onboarded in order to work effectively with your company’s key stakeholders and existing IT personnel. They’ll have to learn your existing systems and processes in order to ramp up for the project, and likely find themselves stalled by the challenges and problems that inevitably arise during the process of development.

On the other hand, professional software development firms provide a time guarantee with their quote to ensure projects are delivered on time and within your budget constraints. During our 30 years of service, the Antares team has developed foolproof processes and reliable workflows that allow us to rapidly develop and deploy software for companies in a variety of industries, including healthcare, oil & gas, finance, insurance, and commercial software product development. Our expansive knowledge of industries and technologies enables us to deliver cutting-edge tools in unparalleled time.

Consider these questions when you’re balancing the time benefits of hiring a software developer versus partnering with a company.

● How well will the developer interact with the rest of your existing team?
● Will a project manager be available to keep the developer on target and in touch with key stakeholders?
● How much time will be required to onboard the developer?
● How urgent is the completion of the project?
● What do you envision the developer working on after the project is completed?

Money

At the low end of the scale, a software developer earns around $69,000/year. If your business is going to be developing and maintaining several apps, hiring someone full-time may be your best approach.

You could also look at hiring a developer as a contractor solely for the length of one project. For many enterprises, one custom app is all that’s needed to improve operations, reduce overhead and connect with customers.

Depending on the scope, a custom software development project can take anywhere from four to nine months to complete with a team and a project manager, so we’ll give our contractor the full nine months since he’ll be going it alone. If the developer is working on the project full-time, you can expect to pay him around $3600/week. That’s nearly $100k for the project, not including any material costs.

Why subcontract with an individual when you can partner with a software development company? This gives you the advantage of a team of full stack developers with greater expertise; a team of seasoned project managers; and customer support representatives to execute custom software development with greater speed and agility.

Consider these questions when you’re balancing the cost benefits of hiring a software developer versus partnering with an company.

● Is there a large pool of quality tech talent in your area?
● Does the developer have a different skill set that could be of value to your team in the future?
● Will your company be in a position to retain the developer after the project is complete?
● Will the project require more ongoing maintenance and support than your existing staff can handle?
● Who can maintain the application if the developer leaves?

We have the process in place to deliver solutions that meet your schedule.

Antares has been developing pioneering technology solutions for thirty years. During that time, we’ve developed processes that expedite software development and ensure the rapid delivery of products that meet the precise requirements of our clients. Contact Antares today to learn more about how our development team can help you.

Map your app or software project

06/01

2018

Don’t Fall Victim to These Software Development Project Fails

Custom software has the potential to streamline your company’s operations and increase productivity. But first, you’ve got to get through the software development process. While there are dozens of ways that a project can fail, most fall into two overarching categories: failures of foresight and failures of oversight.

Asking an overtaxed IT department to tackle a technology that they’re not familiar with would fall into the failure of foresight category. Frequently moving the goalposts throughout the course of a project, on the other hand, is a failure of oversight. Both of these issues can result in a project that runs over budget, misses critical deadlines or collapses before it reaches the finish line.

Failure of foresight

When companies are over-eager to launch into a project, they often neglect to establish a firm foundation to build on. Like any other endeavor, custom software development is only as successful as the preparation that goes into it. A thorough discovery process ensures your software developers move forward with a clear understanding of your budget, time frame, expectations and goals.

To avoid falling into this trap, the Antares software development team takes time to get a clear picture of client needs, processes and desired outcomes. Below are some initial questions to be addressed before beginning a project:

❏ What are the project requirements?
❏ What are the project parameters in terms of time and budget?
❏ What are the client’s expectations in terms of the final product and the development process?
❏ What goal is the client attempting to accomplish through the software?
❏ How does the client define success?

Failure of oversight

Even the best laid plans can be laid to waste by poor project management. Without a knowledgeable guide navigating the project, the output will be mediocre at best. More likely, it will be over budget and past its deadline and a frustrating disappointment for everyone involved.
On the other hand, a savvy project manager makes sure all of the following pieces are in place for a finished product that everyone can be proud of:

❏ A team with talent, skills and relevant experience
❏ Clear understanding of desired software features and functional requirements
❏ Frequent progress updates and sustained communication
❏ Clear understanding of change requests and their implications
❏ Rapid adaptation to unanticipated challenges
A no-fail solution to software development projects

At Antares, we’ve spent thirty years successfully developing custom software for clients in healthcare, insurance, finance, oil & gas and the enterprise. Our experience in wide-ranging industries equips our skilled technical experts with relevant knowledge of critical content areas. Our project management is second to none, and our constant communication ensures all stakeholders stay informed and empowered from the first meeting to the final product launch.

Adopt a no-fail approach to your company’s software development. Get in touch with the agile, on-top-of-it team at Antares today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Map your app or software project

05/24

2018

Tech Trends That Are Changing the Healthcare Industry

Pioneering medical technologies enhance and extend the capacity of physicians, nurses and other healthcare practitioners. They streamline the collaboration among healthcare providers across different facilities and speed up patient access to treatment. They even have the ability to alert emergency responders to accidents in real time and offer predictive capabilities previously unimagined. Three healthcare technology trends are topping the charts in terms of industry impact.

Electronic Health Records

Equipped with Electronic Health Records (EHRs), medical practitioners are capable of providing patients with enhanced, efficient healthcare. Records are more easily accessed, updated, and shared among relevant doctors, nurses and specialists, reducing wait times for patients. They’re also more secure, and they encourage more complete documentation and more accurate coding and billing. The decreased paperwork, improved safety, and reduction of redundancy not only improve the overall state of healthcare but also reduce costs for patients and providers.

“The more connected the records are among different healthcare systems, the more helpful they are,” says Jennifer Blalock, RN, a medical professional with Atrium Health in Charlotte, NC. “They allow immediate access to diagnoses, labs, tests and prescriptions, greatly improving patient care and, critically, safety.”

Internet of Things

As broadband internet becomes more widespread and the cost of connecting decreases, more devices are being designed with WiFi capabilities and sensors built into them. This ability to connect any device to the Internet is having a profound impact on healthcare management. Fitness trackers and other mobile health apps empower consumers to maintain their health more effectively and with greater autonomy. As consumers become more health conscious through the use of these apps, they’ll take up less time in healthcare centers, giving providers greater bandwidth for more critical health issues.

Physicians and emergency responders are also empowered by the development of fall detection, temperature monitors and other wearables that give real time access to patients even when they’re at home. Prescriptions management, sleep cycles and even a patient’s heartbeat can be monitored remotely to ensure premium healthcare at any time and in any location.

“Remote trackers, also known as telemetry, enable patients to get more consistent care and doctors to get more consistent knowledge about patient compliance. Patients also receive more regular care based on the fact that they are required to come into the office for monitoring,” Blalock says, adding, “As a placebo effect, it also seems to provide many patients with just more peace of mind.”

Augmented Intelligence

Augmented Intelligence (AI) has the capacity to optimize the performance of healthcare providers by amplifying and extending diagnoses. With the enhancements offered by AI, healthcare providers are able to access results faster and even automate nonessential aspects of their workload. This reduces wait times and speeds up the referral process, ensuring patients with urgent medical issues receive more immediate care.

Through the rapid analysis of expansive stores of data, AI also equips healthcare providers with improved predictive analytics models. Data that may have been merely warehoused by healthcare facilities in the past now has the potential to be used in early detection of diseases and the streamlined implementation of preventative healthcare.

Blalock notes that there’s still some hesitation among both patients and more traditional physicians when it comes to the use of AI, often because patients don’t completely understand that practitioners are using the AI to supplement their own interpretation. Instead, they fear that AI may be actually taking the place of personalized diagnoses.

“I think it’s a good resource in regard to predictive information,” she says, “Which seems to be the best use of AI by healthcare and the direction in which it’s moving. I do still think there should always be caution included in its use. Large healthcare corporations are constantly looking to reduce cost, and too frequently, they do this by reducing direct patient care providers.”

Antares: Your partner in healthcare technology

At Antares, we’ve spent thirty years successfully developing custom software for clients in the healthcare industry, including the Louisiana Department of Health; the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center; McKesson Automated Prescription Systems and Amedisys, Inc., a leading provider of home health, hospice and personal care. Our experienced tech experts analyze your needs and design custom applications built to your exact specifications. Contact our team today to learn more about the technologies we’ve helped implement, and how we can help you achieve your business goals.

Map your app or software project

05/17

2018

Signs Your Internal Tech Team Needs Some Software Assistance

If you’re a small business making ends meet, commercial software is a great way to get tech advantages on a budget. As your business grows, however, you may discover that those standard, off-the-shelf business software solutions are a liability rather than an advantage to your internal tech team’s performance.

Standard software solutions don’t fit your workflow.

Your business offers unique benefits to your clients. It’s a safe bet that your extraordinary offerings are the result of proprietary processes you’ve developed to get the job done efficiently. Making those processes fit within the limitations of standard business software offerings can be tricky and time-consuming, stifling your tech team’s efficiency.

A custom software solution can be tailored to precisely align with your business goals, practices and processes. Your workflow will be more fluid and adaptable in an environment built to accommodate it, and your team won’t lose time trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Your team is losing time managing and maintaining commercial software.

Speaking of losing time, managing and maintaining commercial software can be a time waster for your tech team. When it comes to out-of-the-box software solutions, your team has minimal control over software-related issues. A lot of time is spent on phone calls to third-party software support and troubleshooting. When the software is updated, abandoned, or hijacked by hackers, your tech team has little to no control over the outcome.

When you outsource custom software development to build a more tailored solution, your tech team can head off potential problems by providing the exact specs that will best suit your business model. They’ll be able to exercise greater control over changes, updates, and development of future iterations, which ensures more productive time.

The whole team holds their breath whenever there’s an update.

Who hasn’t experienced the sudden crash of a system owing to an unexpected update? Standard business software solutions aren’t built for your convenience. They’re built for general convenience. It’s unlikely developers of a standard product are going to consult with your team before making updates, and those obligatory email notifications are too often lost in junk mail. Unanticipated updates and alterations can send your team scrambling for last minute solutions, leaving other daily business untended and your processes temporarily hobbled.

Custom software is developed specifically for you and your team. Updates are made based on your needs and schedule, giving your team time to prepare for transitions. Tailored solutions also allow you to plan ahead of necessary updates and schedule them advance, so your team isn’t at the mercy of a third-party’s whims.

Your existing software is restricting your company’s growth.

Growing beyond your standard software can be a challenge. Too many times, we ask internal tech teams to nip and tuck standard software to fit a burgeoning business model. Or worse, we attempt to keep a business squeezed into the boundaries set by commercial software. Both are surefire ways to stay stuck in second (or third or fourth) place forever. If your software can’t grow with your company, you need better software.

For thirty years, businesses have outsourced their custom software development to Antares because they want solutions that grows with them. We’ve worked with clients in healthcare, insurance, finance, oil & gas, and commercial product development to create tailored software applications that suit their unique needs.

What about your team? Is productivity down and frustration at an all time high? Are surprise updates and modifications disrupting your business flow? Get in touch with us today to develop a solution that optimizes your business operations and gives your tech team the software assistance they need.

Map your app or software project

05/10

2018

Does Your Employee Portal Align With Your Organization?

Alignment is always a critical component within any organization. Your employees have to be aligned with the values and mission of the company in order to create and maintain efficient processes. But first, employees have to be put in a position to succeed. One of the best ways to set them up for success is by optimizing your organization’s technology. Your employee portal is a valuable tool to help your employees work more efficiently, communicate more effectively and provide information to consumers quickly. Here’s how an effective employee portal can help align your company as a whole.

Streamline Business Communication

Without effective communication, no organization can operate efficiently. For many business owners, one of the most attractive attributes of portal development is providing a platform to allow employees within an organization to communicate easily. It may provide simple management of contact information, forms, announcements, access to discussion boards, etc. The better the communication tools are, the better the organization will operate as a whole.

Make Document Sharing Simple

Your employee portal should be a place where employees have easy access to all important documents. Of course, certain documents should only be seen by a limited number of eyes, so your software development services can place the proper restrictions on those as needed. Employees should be able to access documents quickly and easily in order to share them with other members of their organization, vendors or even customers. This is often a critical attribute of employee portals, especially for industries like healthcare and insurance.

Automate As Much As Possible

Gathering and reporting data can be a tedious and daunting process. However, an employee portal can automate these processes to make them more efficient. Business decisions can be more informed as a result of automation, since the information needed is readily available at all times. These automated processes have a trickle-down effect, as it makes the entire organization operate in the most efficient manner possible.

Product Information at Your Employees’ Fingertips

When clients request certain information, they expect to receive it right away. A portal solution will allow employees to access this information and deliver what the client needs. Providing the best service to your consumers should be a top priority.

Antares provides business technology solutions to companies in various industries, including healthcare, insurance, oil and gas, finance, product development and more. Our goal is to ensure your entire organization is aligned to solve any existing problems and eliminate future concerns. To learn how our solutions can benefit your company and clients, contact us today.

Map your app or software project

05/10

2018

Project Overview: DEMCO Web-based Budget Application

Dixie Electric Membership Corporation (DEMCO) is an electric cooperative serving more than 100,000 members in seven southeast Louisiana parishes. DEMCO engaged Antares to rewrite their 12-year-old legacy budgeting application and develop the new, more efficient web-based system. The DEMCO Budget Application supports their annual budget process, providing functionality for department managers, budget administrators and executive leadership to enter, review, revise and complete their budgets for the upcoming year. The app also imports historical data from DEMCO’s accounting system and helps them base future budgets on them.

The new system streamlined DEMCO’s budgeting process and allowed for more interactive reporting and easier updating of budget numbers. It automatically creates complex budgets for payroll and benefits based on a few simple factors they can adjust. It also interfaces with the cooperative’s General Ledger System to report actuals against budget values throughout the year. The General Ledger System is part of Southeastern Data Cooperative’s utility software package.