Lloyd's underwriter Chaucer begins move from spreadsheets to improve reporting

Growing complexity of business prompts move to new reporting system l Workflow-based system is expected to pay for itself within 12 months

Chaucer Syndicates, an underwriter in the Lloyd's of London insurance market, has begun parallel running on a project to replace hundreds of Excel spreadsheets it uses for budgeting and reporting with corporate performance management software.

The insurer said the growing complexity of its business had prompted it to find an alternative to using spreadsheets, as reconciliation and testing had become more complex and the risk of error had increased.

In the first phase of the project, four departments - finance, management information, actuarial and accounts - will transfer some of their processes to ALG's web-based Predictive Planning system by August.

However, Chaucer is taking things slowly and said the departments' processes would not be fully transferred before the third quarter of 2007.

The insurer, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, said that its quarterly reporting requirements meant it would only approach the changeover in discrete stages so as not to encroach on or jeopardise its core reporting requirements.

Fraser Young, projects manager at Chaucer, said replacing spreadsheets with the workflow-based performance management system should pay for itself within 12 months.

"Another driver was compliance," he said. "Spreadsheets are unwieldy to manage in that they cannot be ordered easily; the new system is much more flexible and should certainly cut the risk of human error creeping in."

Chaucer's data systems

Of the 230 staff in Chaucer's London office, there will be 22 development-level users and 89 end-users of the ALG corporate performance management system once it is fully operational.

Chaucer operates an exclusively Microsoft environment, with a SQL 2000 database and datawarehouse. It also uses a bespoke Windows-based underwriting system called Charisma.

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