HawkSoft 6 FAQ
- What's the point of this project? Why are we moving to HawkSoft Cloud or What is the HawkSoft 6 project?
- Does HawkSoft 6 mean a version of HawkSoft I can use in a web browser?
- Will HawkSoft 6 have the same features as the current version of HawkSoft?
- My agency uses HawkSoft Online. Am I already on HawkSoft 6? (Or, how is HawkSoft Online different from HawkSoft 6?)
- Once HawkSoft 6 is available for all HawkSoft customers, will I be able to stay on HawkSoft Online?
- Learn more about how HawkSoft 6 is different from HawkSoft Online
- My agency uses the Local installation of HawkSoft CMS and Data Sync enabled. Am I already on HawkSoft 6?
- Once HawkSoft 6 is available for all HawkSoft customers, are you going to take the Local installation away?
- Once I'm on HawkSoft 6, will we need our own on-premise server inside our agency?
- Learn more about how HawkSoft 6 is different from local installation
- Will my monthly bill change with HawkSoft 6?
- Will HawkSoft 6 look different from how HawkSoft CMS looks today?
- Who owns my data if I use HawkSoft 6?
- Where will my agency data be stored if I use HawkSoft 6?
- Will we still need to do our own backups?
- Will HawkSoft 6 require an internet connection?
- Will HawkSoft 6 be available from any device (computer, tablet, smartphone) like HawkSoft Online is today?
- Will HawkSoft 6 work on a Mac?
- When will HawkSoft 6 be available?
- Why did HawkSoft choose a phased release for Hawksoft 6?
- Why did HawkSoft choose Microsoft Azure?
- What will the migration process to HawkSoft 6 be like?
- How will my agency know when we will be migrated to HawkSoft 6?
- Will we need training on HawkSoft 6?
- Why doesn't HawkSoft simply add more resources in order to move all agencies to HawkSoft 6 more quickly?
- What can agencies do to prepare to migrate to HawkSoft 6?
This is a long, comprehensive FAQ. The following terms are used often and are presented here to ensure clarity on their meaning.
- “HawkSoft”: in this FAQ, HawkSoft (by itself) refers to the company.
- “HawkSoft CMS”: when we are talking about the agency management system made by HawkSoft (the company), we will write out HawkSoft CMS.
- “Local Installation”: the on-premise version of HawkSoft CMS that is installed on a PC or network owned and operated by the agency.
- “HawkSoft Online”: a newer installation method where HawkSoft CMS is installed on a remote Windows environment hosted by a third-party online hosting partner, and accessed by the agency through Remote Application Server (RAS) technology. Important – HawkSoft Online is not the same as HawkSoft Cloud and the terms are not interchangeable.
- “HawkSoft Platform”: as HawkSoft CMS grows to work with more third-party integrations and add-on services, it is evolving into a platform of interconnected systems instead of a single software system. The HawkSoft Platform encompasses all services and software under this umbrella, including HawkSoft CMS, HawkSoft Text Messaging, HawkSoft E-Signature, Agent Portal, HawkLink for Google Chrome, and third-party integrations.
- “Marketplace”: our centralized “app store” for add-on features (that are no additional cost, like Agent Portal), add-on services (like HawkSoft E-Signature that do carry an additional cost), and for third-party integrations powered by HawkSoft’s Partner API. License management has also been moved to Marketplace.
- “Microsoft Azure”: one of the leading cloud service providers in the world, Microsoft offers a robust, secure, and powerful environment for running cloud-based services. This will be the backbone for HawkSoft’s future development, where all agency data will ultimately be stored and delivered.
- “HawkSoft Cloud”: a data storage and delivery platform, and a cornerstone of HawkSoft’s future. We have chosen Microsoft Azure as our cloud service provider. HawkSoft Cloud stores your agency’s client and policy data, settings, and attachments for use in the HawkSoft Platform and ecosystem of integrated partners.
- “Data Sync”: a utility that facilitates moving data from your desktop HawkSoft CMS app to HawkSoft Cloud. This utility is currently an opt-in feature in HawkSoft CMS, allowing an agency to choose if they want to send data to HawkSoft Cloud or not. Data Sync is required to enable certain features like HawkSoft Text Messaging and API integrations that require your data to be stored in HawkSoft Cloud.
Frequently Asked Questions
Big Picture Questions
- Move to a modern cloud platform where data can be delivered any time to any device. This flexibility will allow us to deliver customized experiences that are optimized for desktop, laptop, mobile devices, and other form factors that may be in use in the future. Essentially, we are untethering the HawkSoft Platform from being just a desktop PC experience.
- A modern cloud platform allows faster innovation of capabilities and features. This will result in more innovation being delivered to you at a faster pace.
- Eliminate the need for a middleware service provider to facilitate use of HawkSoft CMS online. We currently use Parallels RAS and our third-party online hosting providers serve the HawkSoft CMS desktop experience online. With HawkSoft 6, you will not need Parallels nor our third-party hosting partners because your data will be delivered from HawkSoft’s cloud servers.
OK, but what’s in it for my agency?
- Improved latency (how quickly you can access data and run reports)
- Increased uptime (fewer service disruptions)
- Faster pace of feature updates and enhancements
- Updates delivered automatically with relying on every user to update software
This may be the most important question answered in the FAQ. Please read the following closely.
No – HawkSoft 6 is not a 100% web-based management system.
HawkSoft 6 is not a management system in a web browser. The purpose of HawkSoft 6 is to store data in the cloud, which will in turn allow you to access certain data and use features in a web browser in the future. Many aspects of HawkSoft 6, such as Cloud Accounting, Cloud Reporting, Text Messaging, and User Management are already being redesigned to run in a web browser in the future.
Yes – HawkSoft 6 will include some features accessible in a web browser.
To explain this, let’s use an analogy that many people using Microsoft Office will understand. HawkSoft 6 behaves similarly to Microsoft Outlook. The desktop app that you use on your PC is called Microsoft Outlook. It receives data from an email server in the cloud (Office 365, Exchange, Gmail, etc). The Outlook desktop app’s role is to display your email that it received from the cloud. Microsoft has made Outlook available as a desktop app, a mobile app on iOS and Android, and a version that can be accessed via a web browser. Each of those apps are called “native apps” because they are designed to be run on those devices – PCs, mobile devices, and web browsers, respectively. Each of those native apps uses the same data source (the cloud email server) to retrieve data. Functionality varies depending on which native app is being used. For example, the Outlook desktop app has more features while the mobile app may have only the 70% of the features of the desktop app that mobile device users really need when they are on the go.
Similar to the Microsoft Outlook model, HawkSoft 6 is a desktop app that will run on your office PC. HawkSoft 6 receives data stored in HawkSoft Cloud (in the analogy above, HawkSoft Cloud is like the email server feeding data to Microsoft Outlook). HawkSoft Cloud, however, is not tethered to just delivering data to the HawkSoft 6 desktop app. Data stored in HawkSoft Cloud will also be accessible in a variety of native apps across desktop, mobile, and web browsers. Many features in HawkSoft 6 will include browser-accessible elements, including tasks, reporting, carrier downloads, trust accounting, agency and carrier setup, and more (see all here).
We plan to make more and more features accessible by web browser as time goes on, but the desktop app will continue to be a necessary part of HawkSoft for the near future. There are still some significant benefits of desktop apps like a more robust interface, availability to more localized computing power, flexibility with keyboard shortcuts and custom mappings, drag-and-drop abilities for attachments, possibility for an “offline” mode in the future, and more. See our blog on cloud applications for info about advantages to desktop-based vs. browser-based cloud applications. We believe this approach will be a successful route to addressing user needs without abandoning the full power of a desktop PC that most agency staff use for the majority of their workweek.
While HawkSoft 6 will be released with the majority of the features and workflows that most agencies use in HawkSoft today, a few less-used features and services will initially be excluded, based on development complexity and agency utilization. This approach allows our product development team to get HawkSoft 6 into the hands of most agencies faster and collect feedback from real user activity.
Consequently, the agencies that qualify for HawkSoft 6 during Phase 1 and 2 will be those that do not require these less-used features of the management system. For further information on the features included in each phase and the agencies that qualify, see our details on HawkSoft 6 availability.
By Phase 3, HawkSoft 6 will have a feature set virtually equivalent to what can be done in HawkSoft today, with enhancements and improvements that utilize our new cloud infrastructure. Although some features will function differently than they do in the current version, the workflows will be familiar and there will be many welcome upgrades that increase efficiency, including better task management, easier accounting workflows, simplified reporting, and much more. See highlights on features that are new, enhanced, or reimagined in HawkSoft 6 here.
For HawkSoft Online Agencies
No, HawkSoft Online and HawkSoft 6 are not the same. Agencies that currently use HawkSoft Online are using Parallels and our third-party online hosting partners to log in to Windows PCs that are running the desktop HawkSoft CMS app. With HawkSoft 6, you will only need your local office PC with an internet connection. You will not need Parallels or our third-party online hosting partners. We wrote a detailed blog article about this and encourage you to read it here.
HawkSoft will support HawkSoft Online for a period of time after HawkSoft 6 is made available to existing customers. Due to our term-based contracts with the different online hosting partners that support HawkSoft Online (which will no longer be needed for HawkSoft 6), some agencies on HawkSoft Online may need to have earlier migration dates than others. The migration team will work with each agency to resolve any concerns about the timing of their migration.
Most agencies that use HawkSoft Online today do so because it offers access to their HawkSoft data from any device. As HawkSoft 6 provides this benefit with superior cloud performance and many feature enhancements, we expect there will be very few reasons that a HawkSoft Online agency would not wish to move to HawkSoft 6.
For Local HawkSoft Agencies
No, HawkSoft CMS with Data Sync and HawkSoft 6 are not the same. Agencies with a Local installation of HawkSoft CMS that use Data Sync are only sending a copy of some HawkSoft data to HawkSoft Cloud (specifically: agency information like offices and users, and client and policy information). Agencies that use HawkSoft 6 will sync all HawkSoft data to HawkSoft Cloud. Data Sync is not optional for HawkSoft 6 – it is active and built into the entire system.
HawkSoft 6 will also eliminate the need for a local server within an agency for running HawkSoft. While an agency may wish to retain a simple file sharing server for storing or sharing documents, all the data necessary for running the HawkSoft agency management system will be stored in HawkSoft Cloud. This will save many agencies the cost of storing terabytes of data.
When HawkSoft 6 is made available to all HawkSoft customers, HawkSoft will allow agencies to remain on their current HawkSoft deployment while they evaluate whether or not they should transition to HawkSoft 6. HawkSoft will also continue to support those deployment options for a period of time after the full release of HawkSoft 6.
It is important to note, however, that all new “marquee” (read: major) features (think features like HawkSoft Text Messaging or Agent Portal or Cloud Reporting) will only be released to HawkSoft 6. HawkSoft 6 is the future of HawkSoft and will be our sole management system focus. Agencies who elect to stay on an older version of HawkSoft CMS will eventually reach a final version of HawkSoft CMS to which no future updates will be released. Some features may also require using the latest or a newer version of HawkSoft, such as Data Sync and HawkSoft Cloud which have minimum required versions. It is our plan to ensure HawkSoft 6 is exciting and useful enough to motivate everyone to use it.
(This is a good time to remind everyone to read our blog on why it is important to keep your management system up to data here).
An agency on HawkSoft 6 will not need a server or networked computers to run the HawkSoft CMS desktop app. All data and attachments used in HawkSoft CMS will be stored and accessible on HawkSoft Cloud.
That said, an agency may still want their own server for other purposes or software. An agency should consult with their IT personnel to determine if they still need an in-house server for other business needs. This also presents the opportunity to consider transitioning to hosted solutions like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Drive for Business. These are options that allow an agency to discontinue an internal server in favor of a cloud-based solution for other business outside of HawkSoft.
Changes Coming With HawkSoft 6
For HawkSoft Online agencies, the pricing for HawkSoft 6 will be similar to or less than their current pricing. Agencies will no longer need to pay for additional licenses for Microsoft products specifically for HawkSoft, like they did in the past.
For local agencies, there will be a flat increase per user to cover the host of new benefits offered by the cloud platform (similar to the increase an agency would experience today if moving from a local installation to HawkSoft Online). However, keep in mind that this increase will likely be offset by lower IT and operational costs, as a local server will no longer be needed for HawkSoft 6.
The focus of the initial version of HawkSoft 6 is on functionality, not design. We did not want to delay the release of HawkSoft 6 further by making significant changes to the user interface (UI). We also wanted to keep things looking familiar to our tens of thousands of current customers to reduce the amount of training needed for HawkSoft 6.
However, you will notice some subtle changes to the look of the menus, client view, logs, etc. Reimagined features (those with significant functionality changes) and features accessible by web browser may have a more noticeably different look because they required a new UI, while other features could simply be recreated in HawkSoft 6 as-is.
HawkSoft 6 leverages cutting edge web development programming languages and a much more visibly flexible UI, allowing us to make changes quickly and more easily in the future. We will continue to prioritize function over form as we do so, holding to our conviction that it doesn’t matter how good a system looks if it doesn’t work efficiently.
HawkSoft remains firm on our stance that the agency always owns their data. HawkSoft is a custodian for your data while it is in our system. Learn more about our stance on data ownership here.
For agencies using HawkSoft 6, data will be stored in HawkSoft Cloud. HawkSoft Cloud runs on Microsoft Azure, meaning that the agency, client, policy data, and attachments will be stored in one of the world’s most secure and robust cloud environments powered by Microsoft. Learn more about how HawkSoft stores and secures data in Azure here.
Program files necessary for running the HawkSoft 6 desktop app and related services will be installed on each user’s PC workstation or laptop. This will eliminate the need for a third-party online hosting provider that runs Parallels RAS (currently called HawkSoft Online) or an on-premise server (Local Installation).
With agency data stored on Microsoft Azure in HawkSoft 6, HawkSoft employs multi-tiered data retention and recovery strategies that mitigate any reasonable risk of data loss. Agency data in HawkSoft 6 is fundamentally more secure and protected from all types of data loss than data on manual backups created by the agency. Subsequently, agencies will no longer need to create their own backups of data. See our Data Security & Retention resource page for more info on how HawkSoft 6 is protected from different types of data loss.
That said, it is the responsibility of an agency to understand and comply with their state’s regulations regarding the long-term storage of insurance documentation (states may require keeping documents and data for several years).
We wrote a detailed answer to this in our blog on Answering Questions on HawkSoft Cloud. You can find it here, and here is a summary with added context for HawkSoft 6:.
- As most agency, client, and policy data powering HawkSoft 6 (including attachments) will live in HawkSoft Cloud, HawkSoft 6 will require an internet connect to work at full power / functionality.
- Please note two points about this fact: 1) The bandwidth (internet speed and data capacity) requirements for HawkSoft Cloud and HawkSoft 6 will be lower than HawkSoft Online’s are today; 2) You will not be tethered to your in-house workstation for accessing HawkSoft 6 (see more on this below).
The future of HawkSoft will require the ability to access the internet. The internet is also required to do most insurance-related business today.
HawkSoft 6 will be available for computers running supported Windows operating systems. HawkSoft 6 can be run on MacOS with the help of virtual machine hosting technology (see more here). Certain features in HawkSoft 6 are designed to be mobile-responsive and accessible through a web browser (such as Cloud Accounting), with more and more web-accessible features coming as we update HawkSoft 6. While the entirety of HawkSoft 6 may not be available at launch for any device, key features will be.
HawkSoft 6 marks a key moment for HawkSoft and our grand plans for HawkSoft Cloud. The overall goal for HawkSoft Cloud is to free agency data so that it can be used in the right place and at the right time. Most insurance professionals using HawkSoft 6 will do so from the agency office or their home office, seated in front of a computer. They will need and be able to leverage the full range of features in the desktop HawkSoft 6 to accomplish their tasks. For outside sales staff or a contract accountant, they may be outside of the office and/or have little need for all that HawkSoft 6 can do. Those roles need specific tools or specific information. For the sales staff, they can access client and policy data from the field using Agent Portal. For that accountant, they can use Cloud Accounting tools within a web browser (completely independent of HawkSoft 6).
Your agency data will be accessible when and where you need it. Eventually, the “where” might be entirely in a web browser. But HawkSoft 6 isn’t quite that version of HawkSoft.
Yes, but it will require the help of other solutions. Like the prior versions of HawkSoft, HawkSoft 6 is developed for computers running supported Windows operating systems (see system requirements here). HawkSoft does not currently have plans to build a native app for MacOS.
Users of the current HawkSoft Online platform are able to access HawkSoft on Mac computers because it is hosted on a virtual Windows machine. As HawkSoft 6 eliminates the need for this hosted environment, Mac users will now be responsible for configuring and supporting their own Mac-accessible Windows environment where HawkSoft 6 can be run. There are several ways this can be achieved. Please see our HawkSoft hosting page for details on each method. HawkSoft will provide support only for the HawkSoft system, not the configuration or maintenance of the Windows environment, on Mac computers.
In addition, keep in mind that many HawkSoft 6 features will be available via web browser, meaning they can be accessed on any device with an internet browser (PC, Mac, and mobile devices). While you will not have access to the full HawkSoft platform, many features include browser-accessible elements (see details here), and more features will continue to be made accessible via browser in future.
Moving to HawkSoft 6
HawkSoft 6 will be rolled out gradually to different groups of agencies in several phases. At each stage, HawkSoft will monitor the performance of the platform and make necessary adjustments.
The initial phase (0) will be released to HawkSoft employees for internal operational use and rigorous testing before the product is released. Phase 1 will release the platform to new HawkSoft agencies that meet certain requirements, such as not needing data conversions from a prior system. These agencies will be included in the release before existing agencies in order to allow us to optimize, refine, and test scalability with a small group before moving thousands of terabytes of data from existing customers onto the platform.
Phase 2 will release the platform to a larger number of new agencies, as well as most existing agencies, with some limitations to who qualifies. We will add users gradually in this phase to ensure all agency databases are moved in a safe manner and in a way that doesn’t overburden our cloud services, leading to a poor user experience for all. In Phase 3 the platform will be in wide release to all new and existing agencies.
For the timing of each phase and more details on the groups included in each, see our information on HawkSoft 6 Availability, which is kept updated with the most recent timelines. The provided timeframes for each phase mean that we expect the start date of the phase to occur at some point within that timeframe, not necessarily at the beginning of that timeframe. Please keep in mind that in each phase, we will start with smaller numbers of less-complex agencies that meet the eligibility requirements, and gradually add more agencies with higher complexity. Finally, please remember that these timeframes are rough estimates and that they are subject to change.
HawkSoft 6 is different from previous versions of HawkSoft in that it will require the migration of agency data into a new database format in order to support HawkSoft Cloud. With thousands of existing agencies running HawkSoft CMS and terabytes of data that must be converted under finite resources at our disposal, it’s a task that must be done gradually rather than all at once. We cannot afford to lose data or overburden our systems, which would bring everyone’s technology experience to a crawl.
Think of all that data as passengers and luggage that need to be moved from the ground into the air. Building an aircraft large enough to carry everyone at once would take a long time, and we’d have no idea how well the aircraft would work until the whole thing was constructed.
Instead, we plan to build smaller prototypes that will allow us to get a few passengers with lighter luggage (new agencies) into the air quickly. This approach lets us learn as much as possible about the cloud environment so that we can understand how to develop a larger aircraft in a way that can transport more passengers and their luggage safely, comfortably, and perhaps faster.
Microsoft Azure is one of the leading cloud infrastructures in the world. Using Azure as our backbone also gives HawkSoft direct control over the digital cloud HawkSoft 6 and HawkSoft Cloud lives on. If something goes wrong, HawkSoft’s Product Support and Development teams will have direct access to repair or correct the issue without having to rely on outside parties. It lets us be in control and responsible of our own platform if something goes wrong.
HawkSoft also gravitated towards Microsoft Azure because of our familiarity and affinity for the Microsoft ecosystem. HawkSoft CMS has been built on a Microsoft stack (programming languages and tools ideal for the Windows operating systems) since our last major platform change from DOS to Windows. See more information on how data works on HawkSoft 6 with Microsoft Azure on our Data Retention & Security page.
Existing customers will need to have their existing HawkSoft database migrated to HawkSoft 6. Data is structured in a completely different way in HawkSoft 6 to make it available in the cloud. Subsequently, each agency’s current HawkSoft data (including client and policy data, settings, attachments, etc.) will need to be migrated to HawkSoft 6.
HawkSoft will have a dedicated migration team to help existing customers through the process of moving onto the new platform. Agencies will have access to a HawkSoft 6 sandbox (test database) for a time in tandem with their current database, allowing them to familiarize themselves with new and updated features before moving to the new platform. Downtime is expected to be minimal during the final migration of agency data to HawkSoft 6. Please see our migration resource page for more detail about what the migration process will be like.
Agencies will migrate to HawkSoft 6 in groups in a measured and phased approach, depending on feature needs and migration complexity. There are many factors that may impact when your agency will be eligible to migrate to HawkSoft 6 (see a list of top factors here). Because more features will be added to HawkSoft 6 throughout the release phases, agencies with the least migration complexity and feature needs will be migrated first.
The HawkSoft migration team will reach out to agencies proactively in groups to schedule their migrations, based on the eligibility requirements for each phase. Agencies do not need to apply or join a queue in order to be migrated to HawkSoft 6. They will receive communications from the migration team when it is nearing the time for their agency to transition.
HawkSoft is taking great care to maintain a familiarity and continuity in workflows in HawkSoft 6. You should be able to sit down at HawkSoft 6 and use the same knowledge of HawkSoft CMS to be immediately comfortable in HawkSoft 6.
HawkSoft will create new training videos and help articles to cover HawkSoft 6, in addition to training webinars or feature spotlight webinars that cover key enhancements made to HawkSoft 6. For example, the Cloud Accounting team took great care to fix a lot of the pain points in HawkSoft’s Trust Accounting workflows – and they definitely want to share it with our customers. HawkSoft will email our customers when it is time to register for these HawkSoft 6 webinars.
It will be the agency’s responsibility to ensure that their staff is adequately trained on HawkSoft 6, using the provided training materials. Training before and during the sandbox period will be vital to the agency’s success in HawkSoft 6.
We have. HawkSoft has doubled our development team, specifically our cloud-focused team, over the last four years. However, applying money to solve a problem leads to diminishing returns beyond a certain threshold. Also, HawkSoft is proud to be a privately owned business. Consequently, we don’t have resources from outside investors to draw upon. This is a conscious decision made by HawkSoft’s leadership team to allow the company the freedom to be answerable only to our customers and employees, not stakeholders looking to make a quick profit. Learn more about our commitment to private ownership here.
The agency will have a significant role to play before, during, and after the migration of their agency data to HawkSoft 6. There are items the agency can clean up in their current HawkSoft database beforehand to make the migration as easy as possible, and there will be some items and settings the agency will need to configure again once their data has been migrated to HawkSoft 6.
You can see a preliminary checklist of agency action items on our migration resource page, but the migration team will provide more detailed guidelines and resources to each agency during the migration process.