Antwerp, Belgium

Argenta Group, the holding company of Belgium’s fifth largest bank, was founded 65 years ago as a personal loan financing company, serving some 1.6 million customers in Belgium through a branch network with 428 outlets and in the Netherlands through 3,100 independent advisers. 

Fast and simplified insurance administration system

Argenta’s mission is to be a financial partner throughout the life of its customers by offering personal advice and simple products and services.

Life and non-life insurance products have been part of this offering for many years. In order to further diversify its revenues, Argenta decided to expand its services within home and car insurance. The company worked with DXC Technology to design and deploy a fast and simplified insurance administration system, ready for opti-channel services to customers.

Argenta, which manages assets worth €53 billion and employs nearly 2,700 people, had to cope with some challenges in launching the new solution. The company’s existing IT platform was too rigid to cope with customers’ demand for simple, affordable and personalized insurance. The branch network is at the heart of its commercial strategy, and is complemented with simple sales and self-service in its app.

“One of the key pillars in our value proposition is extreme personalized services. Our former platform couldn’t support this any longer.”

Ann Brands Chief Operating Officer, Argenta

Argenta’s existing insurance system was coded in Delphi, an aging programming language that is difficult to integrate with other platforms. In addition, Delphi programmers are hard to find.

Also, upgrading the system would have required a serious reengineering project, which the company was reluctant to undertake. Finally, the waterfall method within Argenta’s IT department was too inflexible to cope with the changing needs for new insurance offerings. 

“We needed to change our way of working,” says Ann Brands, Argenta’s chief operating officer. “One of the key pillars in our value proposition is extreme personalized services. Our former platform couldn’t support this any longer.”

Argenta’s executive committee therefore sought an alternative and set high requirements. The company determined the new system would need to be flexible, based on open technology including APIs, highly scalable, able to offer personalization and support opti-channel distribution, enabling customers to choose their preferred channels. And the new system had to easily integrate with existing systems such as accounting and document management.

On top of all that, the new system would also need to operationally excel, to be able to fulfill KPIs including 90% straight-through processing. 

End-to-end portfolio administration

DXC Technology fit that bill with DXC Assure Policy, a global insurance administration solution for life, pensions, health and general insurance, proven in the Belgian market.

DXC Assure Policy, formerly known as DXC GraphTalk™, provides a complete fulfillment process with features that include product templates, multichannel support and end-to-end portfolio administration. What’s more, these solutions have already been implemented over 100 times in 25 countries, so Argenta officers could count on its viability and performance.

“This partnership allows us to reduce costs through economies of scale and focus on this important pillar of our business. That means simple processes, simple products — and amazing our customers.”

Ann Brands Chief Operating Officer, Argenta

To ensure the flexibility Argenta needed, DXC proposed implementing the solution as a Software as a Service (SaaS) system of record hosted in the AWS cloud.

Under the plan, DXC manages and runs all DXC Assure Policy end-to-end services and updates. This includes systems for quotations, subscriptions, financials and more; the setup of backoffice screens; and front-office setups to help Argenta’s branches register and manage new client contracts and handle billing.

DXC manages IT infrastructure, storage and security on AWS with a consumption-based pricing model. The new system can scale along with market demand for insurance products.

Ultimately, Argenta decided to outsource the entire project to DXC.

“This partnership allows us to reduce costs through economies of scale and let us focus on what really matters, servicing our customers,” Brands explains. “That means simple processes, simple products — and amazing our customers.”

DXC adopted Agile methodologies in order to accelerate software development by replacing traditional waterfall processes with sprints, scrums and other iterative practices.

Brands adds, “When a company transfers an important function to a third party, it is crucial that the third party offers the same experience and values. That requires a lot of coordination, and in an agile way that makes it better and better.”

Value delivered

6 months
Launched first product line in front and back offices
12 months
Launched second product line including new product
Adoption of a consumption-based SaaS model resulting in cost reduction

Working together, working from home

Argenta approved DXC’s proposal and launched the project in early 2020, shortly before the global COVID-19 crisis. In March of that year, the two teams held what would be their last on-site meeting for some time. Just 2 weeks later, Belgium mandated a nationwide lockdown, and all local DXC and Argenta staff had to begin working from home.

“The most important thing was a motivated team on both sides,” Brands says. “They were in touch with each other day and night, even if it was via Skype or phone. Working together is like making a good mayonnaise. You can have all the ingredients, but if you don’t get the proportions right or don’t mix them properly, it doesn’t work. DXC and Argenta teams worked closely during those difficult times and we reached our goals together.”

Like millions of people around the world, the DXC and Argenta teams quickly adapted to meeting online. They decided that the two insurance programs, home and car, would be launched on separate timelines. In addition, they also divided each insurance program into two parts. First, the agile team would focus on implementing a minimum viable product (MVP) with an earlier launch date, while the non-MVP components were scheduled for later.

“In an unpredictable world, Argenta is doing something extraordinary in the financial sector: We take care about our customers and our employees in a thoroughly responsible way.”

Ann Brands Chief Operating Officer, Argenta

Fast implementation

Ultimately, the full home insurance system was up and running by July 2020, and the car insurance offering by January 2021. Argenta’s drive to complete the work in a short timeframe quickly led Didier Magry, the DXC delivery director for the project, to later call it “management by time constraint.” He said the time pressure required continuous discussions between the two parties, as well as a new way of working.

The two teams also implemented a new way of celebrating. Upon completing the project, the two teams held a remote party. All home-working team members received party packages including champagne, Belgian frites with good mayonnaise and sweet marzipan.

Not only does Argenta now have a new platform, it also offers highly differentiated insurance products in the market. In addition, customers can start the buying process at home by doing a simulation and then close the contract with additional advice from their local branch.

It’s too early to see the results already but customers and branches are very delighted with the products.

“The new system is now completely in line with our company purpose. In an unpredictable world, Argenta is doing something extraordinary in the financial sector: We take care about our customers and our employees in a thoroughly responsible way,” Brands says. 

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