Case Study: GAINSCO

Insurance: Optimizing a Self-Service Portal

GAINSCO, through its insurance subsidiary, MGA Insurance Company, Inc., and its insurance brand, GAINSCO Auto Insurance (collectively, “GAINSCO”), specializes in minimum-limits personal auto insurance coverage, which it sells through a network of thousands of independent agents in Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina and Texas. Established in 1978 and headquartered in Dallas, GAINSCO offers an online self-service portal, GAINSCOconnect.com, that allows its partner agents to quote, sell and manage GAINSCO policies.

Business Challenge: Online agent portal was timing out, putting policy sales and agent support at risk

GAINSCO is a company familiar with rapid growth and the IT challenges it brings. With annual sales increasing from $43 million to more than $200 million over the previous five years, the company frequently adjusts its business practices and infrastructure to manage growth. Foreseeing the next phase in the company’s evolution, GAINSCO undertook a major strategic effort in 2009 to re-architect its insurance sales portal, significantly upgrading systems and processes in order to manage transaction volume, improve security and position the company to react to changing market conditions.

“Our agents have a choice of insurance carriers. If we can’t provide timely online service, they’ll look for another carrier who can. SharePath helps provide a complete picture of how our applications are performing. Now we can quickly diagnose problems in real time, as they arise, and measure ourselves accurately against service level agreements. And the best part is that our agents can keep writing business.”
— Phil West, GAINSCO CIO and Senior Vice President

Because GAINSCO sells its insurance policies only through independent agents and not directly to consumers, the GAINSCOconnect.com portal is vital to company success. In mid-March 2010, as GAINSCO rolled out its new infrastructure platform across geographic territories, the portal began experiencing latencies and time-outs. The delays quickly became a hindrance, increasing the risk of losing agent business and loyalty.

GAINSCO could have used traditional methods to pinpoint the source of the problem, but with thousands of agents relying on the portal to conduct more than half a million transactions daily, there was little time to waste. “There was a risk to our production,” said GAINSCO CIO Phil West. “We knew that without a quick resolution our agents might begin to sell other carriers instead of us, or we might have to roll back to our previous platform.”

Solution: SharePath software for transaction management from Correlsense

GAINSCO looks to Correlsense to optimize performance of its self-service portal, GAINSCOconnect.com, and achieves results within days.

Once Correlsense deployed SharePath’s self-configuring collectors, GAINSCO was able to begin immediately aggregating transaction-level data from all tiers in the data center. By automatically mapping the data center’s topology across all tiers, GAINSCO quickly uncovered and addressed the causes of its transaction latencies.

SharePath displayed on plasma screens in GAINSCO’s data center.

According to West, GAINSCO considered many other solutions, eventually choosing SharePath because of its ease of installation. “We didn’t have to crack open any code to get this monitoring going,” said West. “Most tools require you to install something in the application. Other than the collectors, we didn’t have to change a single line of code with SharePath. We were up and running in hours and fully functional in a week. That’s practically unheard of.”

“The highlight of our relationship with Correlsense has been getting to the source of the problem very quickly, which helped us to protect a key platform for generating revenue.”
— Phil West, GAINSCO CIO and Senior VP

Results and Benefits: Isolating problems within minutes instead of days

Because SharePath traces every transaction from the end-user action all the way to the back end of the data center, GAINSCO’s IT team was able to find out exactly where the transaction latencies were originating. According to West, “A problem that the SharePath tool may be able to pinpoint right down to the SQL statement might have taken us days to isolate before.” Once that was completed, solutions were implemented to eliminate the hang-ups. Using SharePath, GAINSCO was able to quickly diagnose problems as they arose, allowing them to accurately measure their performance against service level agreements.

SharePath allowed GAINSCO to maintain focus on what really matters: servicing agents and selling insurance. This is an example of a problem that traditional monitoring tools are not able to identify. With SharePath, IT is able to not only pinpoint the problem right away, but also gains the ability to see IT issues in the context of the business. This results in clear communication to all parties and a significant reduction of time and effort to solve problems, ensuring predictable IT reliability and adherence to service level agreements.

GAINSCO’s experience with Correlsense was a positive one. “I’d like to see other vendors perform as well as Correlsense,” said West. “In terms of implementation and support, they have exceeded our expectations. The ease with which the software was deployed, its immediate effectiveness and the level of service offered by the Correlsense team all helped to take pressure off the IT team.” Because of the successful turnaround on the performance of GAINSCOconnect.com, GAINSCO is using SharePath to monitor additional applications in both its test and production environments.


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