Opinions differ on what Activities on TAM are in essence but it is generally agreed that there are two key uses:
- Diary notes
- Event logging
Diary notes are reminders within the system and attached to client (or other) records to prompt the CSR or other person to do some other action at a future date.
Event logs are simply records that something has been done or taken place, for example, a meeting, a phone call, or a document created.
Both of these categories should be regarded as important for audit trails. How will an agency know what has happened on a client's history if events and actions are not recorded?
It should also be clear that recording such things on TAM enables an agency to go "paperless" if it wants to. The corollary of that is that CSRs and others need to ensure all actions and events are recorded because there is no paper file to refer to.
Each Activity on TAM is represented by a code of up to 4 characters. You don't have to use all 4. Some of these come with the system and cannot (normally) be deleted. Here are some suggestions as to coding:
Group codes by the initial letter to make the drop-down list logical for users, e.g. all Renewal activities begin with RE
If codes are to be used by one Department only, use the Department code letter or number as the first character
If you don't need the system codes, you can blank out the Description, or change it to "do not use".
How Many Codes Must a Man Walk Down?
Another debate to be had is how many codes to use. You need to balance the needs of the agency in terms of reporting and audit trails against the practicalities for users. A typical number of codes may be 150-180. Some agencies use up to 600, others cut this down to under 50. It's all in the detail.
Decide on what events and processes you want to monitor and set codes accordingly. Correspondence with insurers/carriers could for example be kept to two codes "stuff in" and "stuff out", or even just one "company stuff". Alternatively you may wish to have separate codes for emails, letters, memos, faxes, FedEx, hand deliveries etc ... It's always worth asking "Why do we need this information?" Remember you only have a limited amount of management time to dedicate to monitoring: make it simple as possible.
One code could also represent an entire process, e.g. visit prospect, complete fact find, enter details on TAM, submit application for quotations. Alternatively each step could have it's own code.
Do you have regulatory issues regarding audit trails? Then you may need specific codes to "prove" that something has been done.
So Now What?
You have devised your set of codes and what they represent. Decide now what happens next in terms of workflow.
- Does the Activity just represent an event being logged with no additional work needed? Then the Activity on TAM can be set to "Close Automatically". The system does this overnight during the Close Day routines so that the users no longer see the entries in the Homebase diary screen.
- Does the user expect something else to happen? If so you need a diary entry, so the Activity needs to remain open until the user manually closes it when work is complete. Decide on what default number of days will appear for each code you have devised. Decide also WHO is to action this diary at the due date (the "Follow Up" date). Options are the Operator, the CSR, the Producer or Other. Users usually will be allowed rights to amend these settings as appropriate to their working - all you are doing is setting the defaults.
Issues to Be Aware Of
1. Claims - there is no direct link between Activities and Claims, unlike for Policies. This makes reporting on claims activities more difficult than for policies. a work-around for this is to create specific Claims-only Activity codes. You could alternatively get claims users to enter the 6-digit TAM Claim reference into every claim activity, as the first part of the Description field. This option is helpful where clients have many claims, because the Descriptions can be seen in the List Screen, but it does not enable filtering.
2. Deleting - if you delete an Activity Code from Utility Manager, the client records will remain in place but the description will show as blank. You can still report on these, either by searching for all codes and looking for the "code not found" items, or by using extra criteria "Tfile.code="xxxx" where xxxx is the old deleted code.