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How Disruptive Technology Can Help Financial Institutions

As financial institutions race to improve operational efficiencies, robotic process automation (RPA) has emerged in recent years as a way to help financial institutions reach a new level of operational excellence.

RPA disrupts the existing business model by modifying existing systems to automate manual tasks, transactions, and business processes that are typically done manually. Another way of looking at RPA is that it’s a virtual employee.

RPA can help a financial institution realize its full potential and maximize its resources for peak operating performance. A Center Of Excellence develops the blueprint for the RPA strategy with deliverables, KPIs, and contingency plans for needed adjustments along the way.

In this report, we outline the ten tips for establishing an effective Center Of Excellence (COE).

Perform Testing And Initial Assessment

The initial phase will center around researching RPA benefits and the costs as it applies to your business. A cost/benefit analysis and the results one could expect in improvements in operational efficiencies should be performed. ROI reporting should include costs of implementation such as training, hiring consultants, technology upgrades, and ongoing monitoring. ROI should also clearly lay out process improvements, such as fewer errors from manual entries and any savings as a result of RPA implementation.

Seek External Assistance

Given the rapid technological advances in recent years, it’s unlikely your financial institution currently has all the necessary pieces for establishing an effective RPA strategy. Although IT will play a critical role, expect to bring in outside subject matter experts (SMEs) to provide a thorough assessment of how the technology could be implemented, the savings realized, and the costs you’re likely to incur.

Establish An RPA COE Advisory Council

Developing a COE RPA team or board can help financial executives see the forest from the trees. The team will include IT professionals and department SMEs as well as those who can view the process from a holistic level to determine how the RPA strategy impacts every division involved. It’s critical that improvement to one specific division is not at the expense of another. On a holistic level, the RPA process should be mutually beneficial, albeit perhaps not equally beneficial. The board is charged with monitoring the implementation and quantifying the results from each division on an enterprise-wide level.

Create A Blueprint Of The RPA Capacity Plan

With the cost/benefit analysis and the quantifiable results from the initial testing now available, actionable steps can be outlined for the integration strategy of RPA. However, any financial gains, operational improvements, and the associated costs of the RPA strategy for each division and the COE should be outlined as well.

For example, the blueprint should layout the divisions involved in the rollout, and how the process will unfold. What technological investments are needed, additional staff, outside consultants, and employee training are all just a few of the deliverables that should be spelled out in the blueprint. Employees should have clarity surrounding their role in the overall RPA strategy and the expected benefits. Since it’s often believed that technology replaces human beings, it’ll be critical to empower your employees by including them in the process and seeking their feedback.

Create Scalable Technology

Involve IT early on and coordinate their efforts with the outside consultants and SMEs to establish the robotic automation configuration needed to complete the project. Ensure your institution has the resources available to scale the automation process properly. Establish proper IT support and identify any connectivity issues at the onset.

Coordination between the COE leadership, the SMEs, and IT is crucial in preventing technology concerns later on. Also, defining roles and responsibilities will improve governance once the RPA strategy is expanded to the entire organization.

Pilot RPA With One Division Or Line Of Business

Communicate the RPA strategy with the LOB execs and their staff. The message should include an outline of the plan, the benefits to their operational processes, and their role in the implementation. Bring in consultants and SMEs to facilitate the process and overall execution of the RPA strategy for the test division. Provide detailed tracking and reporting of the successes and obstacles faced in execution of the strategy. From there, establish best practices and lessons learned before rolling out the automation plan enterprise-wide.

Scaling The RPA Strategy

Following the completion of the pilot program, the COE should have useful data and report on the efficacy of the program and any challenges that are likely to occur. Scaling the automation strategy while simultaneously monitoring its progress will be crucial to its success.

Governance

COE governance will include implementing the best practices from the pilot program and ongoing reporting of the results, challenges, and any necessary strategy adjustments. This will also involve prioritizing the rollout of automation, identifying and solving change-management issues that might arise during the process.

Progress reports via a management dashboard will demonstrate how each division is performing relative to the KPIs established at the onset. The dashboard might also include how each division is performing relative to others, the vendors involved, the challenges faced, and deliverables.

Integration framework will be needed containing a set of standards that connect legacy systems and RPA throughout the institution to measure the process from end-to-end. From there the COE can identify lessons learned, highlight areas of business improvement and process adjustments to be integrated seamlessly into all the divisions within the organization.

Robust Communication Strategy

Implementing and managing change can be difficult. And with any change on a corporate level, employees are likely to feel stress from the process. Open communication channels in an ongoing effort to keep everyone on the same page. Think of this as a sales pitch. You’re selling the RPA strategy to the board and shareholders to convince them of the savings from operational improvements, FTEs, etc. But also, you must sell it to your employees, so they too see the benefits to their division, reduce fear and empower them to be part of the revolutionary change happening within. Employees need to know that they’re an integral part of the implementation but also in helping identify improvements to the RPA strategy, once in place.

For example, sharing success stories about how two divisions worked together on an RPA solution to solve a problem with specific examples, and quantifiable results.

Be Adaptable

As technological advances come about in the future, your COE should be fluid, stay up to date on new trends, and stand ready to integrate any new technologies. The RPA strategy should reflect any new automation advances as well as be able to overcome any future obstacles.

Takeaways

There are a myriad of factors that go into creating a successful Center Of Excellence. With proper planning and partnering with outside SMEs, financial executives can develop customized solutions for their LOB’s. Measuring the various outcomes and performances allows you to allocate resources where needed to build an RPA strategy that benefits the entire organization.