Universal Group

Universal Puerto Rico Adjusts to Changing Customer Expectations With Citizen Developers and OutSystems

Universal Puerto Rico (PR) has been serving the island of Puerto Rico for more than 30 years with products for insurance, investing, and policy financing. Situated in the infamous “Hurricane Alley,” Puerto Rico regularly deals with the threat of devastatingly bad weather. Wanting to be proactive, Universal Insurance used OutSystems to develop solutions that will enable them to serve their customers better during the next big natural disaster. Their timing was just right.


1 IT Dev. Manager + 3 Developers

1 IT Dev. Manager + 3 Developers

<20 hours of development time

<20 hours of development time

60/40: New ratio of innovation vs. maintenance

60/40: New ratio of innovation vs. maintenance

2x the team output with citizen developers

2x the team output with citizen developers

Low-Code Development Benefits: They’re Universal with OutSystems

Challenge - Universal PR is well versed in disaster recovery. For more than 30 years, they’ve served the insurance needs of Puerto Rico, including losses to vehicles, property, and homes. But the methods of servicing those customers and customer expectations for service have changed considerably over the years.

Before OutSystems, most of the company’s external-facing IT systems ran on WebSphere Portals, and any significant new development work or updates to existing code required heavy Java hand-coding and took anywhere from a year to 18 months to complete. While IT often ran concurrent projects, the length of the software development lifecycle and the in-depth knowledge required to work on existing code meant the team was consistently backlogged and mired in inefficiency.

Some of the benefits the company sought to improve the IT team’s efficiency included:

  • Reducing the “learning curve” for new projects.
  • Speeding up iterative updates to existing apps and software.
  • Significantly accelerating development of new customer-facing portals and applications.
  • Leveraging citizen developer resources through a more user-friendly development front-end.

An OutSystems sales executive who had worked with Raymond Sanchez, Assistant VP, IS&T at Universal PR previously, presented the OutSystems platform to the company. Soon after, several members of the IT team attended OutSystems training in Atlanta, where they built a demo product and, based on their experience using the platform, decided to implement OutSystems in their own environment.

Citizen Developer Bails Out a Call Center Under Water

Solution - Sanchez’s team was small and included an IT manager and three developers. Most of the team’s development work before OutSystems required hand-coding in Java and more than a passing knowledge of relational databases. According to Sanchez, “It took a couple of successful project implementations for our team to embrace the fact that OutSystems could do all of the things WebSphere does and do it in a fraction of the time.”

For an insurance company, managing customer expectations is the lifeblood of the business. Recognizing an opportunity to prove the value of OutSystems, Kelvin Salgado, a citizen developer and IT manager at Universal PR, designed a new system to collect and manage inbound callers, completely replacing a manual process involving spreadsheets and back-and-forth email.

"Kelvin had previously been OutSystems-certified using the online courses, but he had no professional development experience. Working during his off hours, he developed this new interface in less than 20 hours. Trying to do that with WebSphere would have taken our team at least a month."Raymond Sanchez, Assistant VP, IS&T at Universal PR

Disaster Strikes

Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, knocking out power and communication across the island. It was the worst natural disaster to befall the island in recorded history. To manage the immense load of inbound claims requests, Universal PR partnered with third-party, external field adjusters for claims evaluation and remediation. Without power and mobile communication, there was no way for field agents to get information from their mobile devices into the company’s claim center remotely, and the mobile app used by some of the third-party adjusters was incompatible with Universal PR’s front-end system back at headquarters.

With little time to spare, one of the team’s developers built an entirely new interface. This allowed field adjusters running different versions of claims software to upload claims information directly from their mobile device into the company’s front-end, using a standard CSV formatted file. The new system extrapolated the information from the file and reformatted it for use with Universal’s back-end claims software.

Thanks to OutSystems, Universal PR:

  • All but eliminated the learning curve required to create new applications that integrate into existing backend systems.
  • Significantly accelerated the rate of development for new application delivery from weeks to just days.
  • Supplemented professional developers with citizen developers, effectively doubling the team’s available output.
  • Integrated with Active Directory to securely manage third-party devices and software through roles management.

Dashboards Keep Tabs on Call Volume

Results - With the new OutSystems-developed inbound caller application in place, Universal PR was better prepared to manage the influx of claims calls after the hurricane. The call center’s new dashboards provide heads-up details about inbound call volume, routing, and abandonment rates, helping them better manage staffing and training needs during normal operating environments and in emergencies. And, the new interface for collecting claims data from mobile devices ensures that a future crisis won’t delay claims submissions.

Now able to turn its attention to the future, Universal PR has begun to address the challenges of servicing customers more directly. According to Sanchez, “Before OutSystems, we were mostly focused on the upkeep of our existing portals and systems. With OutSystems in place now, we expect we’ll be able to divide our time 60/40 between new solution delivery and maintenance.”

Using OutSystems, in less than 20 weeks, the IT team has already completed several new projects that will go live soon, including:

  • A single multi-function portal that customers can access via desktop or mobile, replacing multiple customer and agent-facing portals
  • A new CMS
  • OutSystems-designed, reusable integration service to integrate with Universal PR’s existing systems
"Despite their earlier concerns over the capabilities of the OutSystems low-code platform, the team now sees that it can do everything we could do with WebSphere Portals. In fact, they are now asking, ‘When can we sunset WebSphere?"Raymond Sanchez, Assistant VP, IS&T at Universal PR