Increasing application functionality requirements and the need to simplify complex policy processing screens
New Era Life’s claim processing solution was acquired in 2005 from Central States Health and Life of Omaha (CSO). CSO’s application was developed and deployed in a mainframe environment in the mid-1980s. The difficulty in finding and retaining developers trained in the proprietary CA-IDEAL language and CA-Datacom database was a key reason for moving the solution to a Windows environment with Micro Focus Net Express, leveraging Micro Focus COBOL. CSO already maintained many other COBOL applications and had in-house development skills it wanted to use.
Today, the claims processing solution manages three to four million claims each year, amounting to over $300 million. Doug Nelson, Senior Systems Analyst at New Era Life, comments on the evolution of the system: “The solution is constantly under revision and we add new functionality all the time. Some of our programs have grown extremely large; up to 50,000 LOC (Lines of Code) and we’ve enhanced the system to take full advantage of the many features Micro Focus COBOL has to offer. Although we were very happy with Net Express, we are conscious that we need to future-proof a business-critical solution such as this, and align to current platforms and technologies. Micro Focus Visual COBOL looked like it might give us some additional advantages, and we were happy to support the move from Net Express to Visual COBOL.”
New Era also hoped to resolve a restriction in the number of fields per screen. In the mainframe environment this was very limiting, causing staff to switch between many screens to process a claim which was time-consuming and unproductive. Although this was vastly improved with Net Express, user requirements were becoming more sophisticated, and Nelson and his team looked to Visual COBOL to provide further enhancements in this area.