Management by Exception – Beyond the Buzzword.

Written at Sep 26, 2023 2:47:14 PM by Dave Connors

In one of my very first public appearances as CEO of distriBind back in 2019 – on a panel at a conference that didn’t survive the pandemic – I said “in a bordereaux world, you have to touch 100% of the data”. We still use this phrase. 

This has always been the raison d’etre for distriBind – eliminating friction and manual effort in delegated authority. And from the very first inkling of an idea, through design and prototypes, eliminating manual effort and low-value tasks was a key touchstone. I would think back to the things I had to do as an Insurance Technician and consider: if I had this X years ago, would this have been better to do that? If the answer was yes, it made it into the product design, if it didn’t, I kept thinking. 

I wasn’t much of a salesman in 2019. On that panel, it never even occurred to me to say “we enable Management by Exception”… since then, I’ve said that phrase so many times I began to hate it. I try not to say it anymore. 

What do I say instead, and what do I mean? What’s the benefit it brings, and what would – X years ago – have made my life better? What I say is “we eliminate manual touchpoints for valid data while giving complete visibility of the whole dataset”. But what does that mean? Well, it means a few things: 

  1. When the data is good, there is nothing to do. Our clients have no manual touchpoints for data that passes validations. Regardless of the initial data format or structure, the data is ingested and validated and the results presented. All data is ingested, decoupled, and presented. This is your position. This is what’s good. This is what’s bad. This needs attention. 

  2. Even when the data is bad, we can help. Our data ingestion layer can transform and enrich data, and even generate missing data based on what we do have. We help our clients handle different data structures and formats, allowing the sender to send what they can, and giving the receiver what they need. 

  3. Reversing is for cars. Our ingestion layer automatically recognises corrections – not only of data errors, but even out of sequence transactions. There’s no backing out of transactions or bordereaux: we recognise, correct and give you a full audit.  

Management by exception stops being a buzzword (buzzphrase?) when it’s true. When the thing that cannot be automatically resolved by transformation or enrichment or recourse to existing data is exceptional. When the need to manually interact with a transaction to resolve an error is not the daily grind, and doesn’t mean untying thousands of rows but does mean actually just dealing with the thing that’s wrong. 

If you find yourself “backing out” row after row of good data, month after month of bordereaux, because you’ve finally got that original risk on that cancellation but you can’t process out of sequence, or the broker has admitted there was an extra 0 in that sum insured… ask yourself if there might be a better way? 

What if it was easy to identify that error, and resolving it didn’t require any effort: the data comes in and self-corrected? Wouldn’t that be exceptional?   

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Dave Connors

CEO & Founder