Speaking the Same Language

Tim Koenig

A solid team dynamic between business and information technology (IT) professionals is not formed overnight. We discovered this at Voya throughout our Actuarial Transformation project, as we built out our data dictionary. As actuaries, we use acronyms like CSV for cash surrender value and MGIR for minimum guaranteed interest rate more often than kids text LOL (laugh out loud) or YOLO (you only live once). We quickly discovered that other professionals, like IT, did not speak the same language.

For instance, if actuaries requested a monthly trending of CSV by product, we expected to receive accurate results. However, we quickly learned that no one had explained to IT what CSV meant to actuaries. In fact, based on their past experiences, IT initially interpreted CSV to mean “comma separated value.” Further amplifying the challenge, the field containing this data had different naming conventions depending on the data source. For example, CSV may have been called AV2 in one legacy admin system, CV in a second admin system and FV in our new cross-system solution. Thus, we had to work extensively with IT to develop a robust data dictionary where we were able to connect these dots and start speaking the same language. This foundational exercise was critical to obtaining accurate results and the overall success of our transformation project.

Tim Koenig, FSA, MAAA, is a senior actuarial associate at Voya Financial and a contributing editor for The Actuary magazine.

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