RPA in Banking: How to Start Small for Big Impact

RPA Banking

Intro

Everyone in banking, even in small banks and credit unions, has heard people talk about robotic process automation (RPA). At first glance, automation looks like a huge undertaking, bringing up questions like:

  • Is RPA for small banks and credit unions?
  • What could we automate?
  • Where would we start?
  • How do we keep it from taking over our jobs?

You could try to automate everything at your bank or credit union, but it’s not smart to automate every process. Starting small is about picking the right tasks and processes to automate. And checking over existing processes to be sure you aren’t automating a bad process that should just be replaced.

Instead of being overwhelmed by all the possibilities, start small, with a few targeted processes that will give you a quick ROI. Trying to tackle all the processes at once without clear direction leads to RPA failure. Starting small will help prove the value of your RPA solution, show employees that RPA is a partner rather than a threat, and give you some major wins:

  • Keeps you competitive by increasing security (fewer people handle sensitive data), reducing time spent on repetitive, manual tasks, and eliminating errors  
  • Also, if your people aren’t heads down on manual, redundant tasks that make them feel like their heads are turning to mush, they can be focusing on customers—and that’s why customers go to small banks and credit unions, to talk to a human and feel like they aren’t just a number.

Audit Report Automation

Every bank, regardless of size, has to comply with various regulations and be audited. One of the first processes to automate may be audit reports. With RPA, you can create tasks for BSA/AML audits, ACH transaction reviews, loan and deposit compliance audits, and other key processes:

  • User onboarding
  • Security audits
  • Expired user audits
  • Inactive user audits
  • Event log audits
  • Compliance report generation

Though these reports are essential, it can be easy to forget to run them when they’re manual. You don’t want to be caught lagging behind when an auditor shows up. Your first quick win comes with time savings and audits at the ready since you can schedule reports to run on a regular basis without human intervention.

Help Desk and Service Desk Automation

Every bank has a help desk or service desk for IT issues. And while not every ticket should be automated, implementing RPA for a few common issues with a predictable fix can both cut down on the emails sent to personnel and solve user problems faster:

  • Password resets
  • Install updates and patches
  • Server restarts

In addition, you can automate processes to check if email is working, make sure internet is up, and identify application slowdowns. If these processes run on a regular basis, you might find the problems and resolve them before anyone has a chance to contact the help desk.

Manual Daily Balancing Process

The best use case for RPA is repetitive processes, like daily balancing processes. When you need to run specific processes multiple times per day or per week and have to wait for one task to complete before moving on to the next step, you’ve identified a great process to automate.

For example, say you need to log into a website every 3 hours, extract totals from the page, download a file from the website, upload the file to a network folder, process and generate a report, then compare the webpage and report totals to make sure they match. You can eliminate all those manual steps by automating the process, setting up contingencies within the RPA task.

Creating Process Improvement with RPA

Not only does automating processes with RPA take manual work off your plate, but it can improve your processes by using an API to connect directly to a data source, something humans can’t do.

Take Aldergrove Financial for example. They had to extract data from https data every day for loan origination and had written their own script to do it. The script was unreliable, and the IT team frequently had to finish the process manually with no error recovery.

Within 5 minutes of a free trial of an RPA solution, they had a task running for the loan origination task. With that success, they realized they could improve other processes throughout the company as well, which gave them momentum to keep tackling other processes.

How to Identify Processes to Automate

The three processes mentioned above are a great place to start with RPA in banking. When it’s time to evaluate other processes, consider the following factors:

  • Time savings: How much time will your team save when they don’t have to perform this task manually?
  • Criticality: How essential is this process to the business? Will you save time and see revenue growth?
  • Error: What’s the potential for human error for this process? What impact does error have on the business?
  • Effort to automate: Will this take more effort to automate than to just perform the task?
  • Urgency: How quickly does this task need to be set up to provide benefit?
  • Lifetime of automation: Will you get to reuse this task? Will it continue to provide value to the business rather than be used once?

How to Document and Set Up a Task for Automation

Use the following chart to help you document the automation process. Documentation keeps all parties involved on the same page and helps you to evaluate ROI and effectiveness once you’ve been using RPA for a while.  

Use Case Automate
Date XX/XX/XXXX
Company/Contact Name  
Contact Phone and Email Address

Phone:

Email:

Process Department

 

Current Process Overview

(Current As-Is State)

 

Desired New Process Overview

(To-Be State)

 
Step 1  
Step 2  
Step 3  
Step 4  
How many users doing this manual work process each day?  
How many total hours spent each day on this work?  

Starting small with RPA in banking is about having people do what only people can do and software robots do what no person wants to do (and what they typically make mistakes doing). Set up a few processes to help your team get used to partnering with robots. This will establish automation as a help to your human staff rather than a threat to their jobs and help you to get quick wins.

How can you start small at your organization?