Consumers Credit Union, founded in 1951, is located in western Michigan. They now cover some of the most densely populated areas of Michigan’s lower peninsula. In May 2018, they reached $1 billion in assets and have nearly 100,000 members and 20 offices.
For the past 35 years, they’ve had what Jim McKee, core systems administrator at Consumers, calls “ridiculous growth,” with an annual average growth rate of 18%, uncommon among financial institutions. How do they do it? Member satisfaction. They have a 96% satisfied or highly satisfied rate and continue adding value for their members in order to maintain it.
The back-office IT team has about ten employees who manage the primary LOBS (line-of-business system) and core banking applications. Consumers partners with Finastra as they use Phoenix, one of Finastra’s U.S. retail core banking solutions and help with beta testing and development. They started using Automate, a robotic process automation solution from HelpSystems, through that partnership to automate the internal processes with their core banking software and eventually expanded to automate more processes.
Automating Back Office Processing with RPA
Every financial institution has a lot of processing to do. During the day, Consumers Credit Union’s retail offices churn out transactions, and the back offices make modifications to loans and other financial documents. So at night there’s a lot of processing that: wraps up changes, balances accounts, and calculates interest. Every night, robotic process automation (RPA) completes this processing in only three to five hours, and month-end processing is about an eight-hour processing event. But the time needed to process is no problem since Automate runs the entire back-office processing sequence end to end, including two SQL Server backups. The unattended process starts at 10:00 p.m., after their operations staff has gone home. Automate bots start the jobs, integrating with check processing software and financial modeling software in order to process all the transactions of the day.
If Consumers had to process all of these changes, updates, and balances manually, it would take far longer than the three to five hours Automate needs and require second and third shift staff to review and make sure that jobs don’t fail. They would also have to use downtime receipts to make sure that any transactions that occurred when the system wasn’t online would get processed manually. Beyond the convenience and cost savings of not needing to do this work manually, having robotic process automation run the processes unattended makes it consistent and accurate.
I don’t think we have enough time to expose the value of what I do with Automate.
Jim McKee, Core Systems Administrator, Consumers Credit Union
Expanding RPA Beyond Core Banking Applications
McKee has seen the potential to expand Consumers’ automated processes and started automating other manual tasks across his organization: data extraction, file transfers, SQL scripts to pull information out of SQL databases, and more. They’ve integrated Automate with Microsoft DTS as well. It all goes back to the Consumers mission to offer the best member experience. When employees don’t have time-consuming manual work to do, it “frees them up to do our member’s bidding,” McKee says, which improves the member experience and makes employees’ work more fulfilling.
McKee has set up hundreds of bots handling complicated tasks, utilizing Automate far beyond the initial reason.
“When you’re talking about automating a Windows app,” McKee explains, “it moves the mouse around. It clicks the buttons on the screen. It answers and clicks pop-up windows that asks questions about stuff you’re doing in the banking application. It triggers the next step from one set of steps in the sequential flow. I could go on and on about the use cases.”
He additionally sets up bots to perform intricate and complicated tasks, many which run overnight, unattended. “I don’t think we have enough time to expose the value of what I do with Automate.”
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