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Extended Document Support in OpenUnderwriter 2.1 and the Benefits of Product Structure

Among the other new features and enhancements included in OpenUnderwriter 2.1 is support for an extended set of document types.

As well as quotation documents, which have been supported for some time, the system now generates certificates, wordings, and invoices. Like all product features, document definitions benefit from product inheritance - meaning that each product need only define the ways in which if differs and need not define common elements.

Product inheritance has been a key feature of OpenUnderwriter since its inception. Using it, a product analyst can significantly reduce the effort involved in creating new products and, probably more importantly, the cost of maintaining a product or a whole family of products that share common features. As an example, consider adding a common clause to a suite of professional indemnity products. Such products are frequently split by trade, meaning that the new clause needs to be applied to the accountant's product, the surveyor's product, the architects product, etc.

With product inheritance, the new clause need only be added once to the base product and all of the trade specific variants automatically inherit it. Without it, each product would need to be visited in turn introducing the possibility of inconsistency - not to mention additional cost.

Product inheritance isn't limited to clauses. It covers every element of a product's definition including rating, tax calculation, brokerage rules, the ordering of questions, the questions themselves and their validations, and the rules and services which a product might use.

In terms of documents, inheritance allows a comparatively widely used document, like an invoice, to be defined once and used by all products. Whereas documents that are more product specific, like a quotation document, will inherit common elements like addresses, logos, common questions, headers and footers, etc. and only need to define the specific elements that make them different, like product specific sections of text or references to the answers given by the proposer during the quotation process.

As well as supporting different document types, OpenUnderwriter also supports two different methods of document generation: Apache FOP is a hugely powerful and flexible document generation technology that gives document designers full control over the appearance of documents; while iText, by comparison, is more light weight but has the advantage of allowing documents to be designed using Microsoft Word.

Underlying all of this is OpenUnderwriter's fundamental aim: to provide the power that organisations need in order to get their products to market efficiently and effectively, without restricting their creativity or the ways in which they differentiate their offerings.

About the Author

OpenUnderwriter Founding Director

Richard Anderson

Richard is a founder of OpenUnderwriter and has over 20 years’ experience as a software architect and lead engineer, specialising in Insurance solutions. Prior to that he was working on real-time defence and civil aviation systems. He has delivered innovative insurance solutions for companies such as Catlin and Web-X. Richard has been the driving force behind the architecture of the OpenUnderwriter suite of products. Richard is a passionate advocate of open source software and is an active member of the open source community.



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