Building a strategy for your automation initiative

 
September 22, 2021

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and hyper-automation have launched businesses into a new era of modernizing and evolving their processes.

The sentiment from analysts is consistent and clear. Automation is becoming a critical aspect of growth and modernization. With every investment in technology, strategy is paramount. Product Manager, Fintech, Digital Banking/Fintech Product Management at Celero, Ritesh Andley, and co-founder of Fidelity Factory, Sean Panter, discuss the importance of implementing RPA at your credit union in this blog. Keep reading to discover what Ritesh and Sean identify as important areas of consideration for organizations building automation strategies.

Ritesh Andley from Celero. Sean Panter from Fidelity Factory.

Why automate?

RPA is low-code technology that allows organizations to replicate human activities and reduce the need for human intervention in everyday tasks.

Manual execution of these processes can be expensive and error prone, ultimately causing inefficiencies.

Technical disruptions have become an everyday affair in all aspects of life, and financial services are no exception. These disruptions are re-aligning expectations from financial institutions (FIs) to deliver more value to their customers. The only way FIs can be more customer focused and reduce costs is to also reduce human intervention where it is not necessary, and instead use human resources to add more value to client-facing activities.

Hyperautomation has shifted from an option to a condition of survival

-Fabrizio Biscotti, research vice president at Gartner

It's Automation, not Robotics

Many people believe that RPA sounds like a high-end technology that is comparable to artificial intelligence. This misconception has led to the impression that RPA is a costly tool. However, since the tool isn’t cognitive and fairly low-code, the initial cost of ownership and the repetitive cost of expanding automation within an organization, isn’t as high as some people think it is.

RPA mimics human activity, so there is no skill upgrade required for the business users of financial institutions. Available human bandwidth can be used for higher value and client facing jobs, making RPA more about automation than robotics.

In the following sections, let's look at how a financial institution can get started with their automation journey.

Establish a Stable Foundation

Top-down support is imperative for technology initiatives that affect business processes. Ensure that you have secured support from the necessary stakeholders before engaging business units.

An organization’s technology team is going to be met with frustration if they try to promote automation without the support of top-level decision makers.

The job of administering, managing and owning the automation initiative should fall into the hands of a Center of Excellence team. This group of automation stakeholders will help shepherd the initiative from inception through to operation and sustainment.

Analyze your organization’s capacity to own this technology and identify where gaps exist. You may need to seek out a trusted partner to support the forward movement of the automation initiative. A good practice is to identify product champions who will proliferate the usage of the tool within the organization.

Educate

An important part of introducing any technology is understanding how it will affect your business. The obvious areas to consider first are the features and benefits. Knowing these aspects of a product’s value proposition will help you understand how a technology will add value to your organization and fit into your technology stack.

Educating yourself about the technology will help you avoid pitfalls you may have previously encountered with other technology adoptions. Reach out to business partners and industry peers to understand more about the impact a technology has had on their business. It is also important to consider the nuances of deployment, change management, adoption and training.

Think Return on Investment (ROI)

One of the fundamental equations of any investment is understanding the return that it will provide. An investment in automation is no exception.

There are fixed costs and up-front investment considerations to make when assessing your potential ROI. Costs relating to licensing, deployment, training, adoption, and change management are a few of the important scope items to consider here.

The returns will occur when you begin automating. Each automation will come with its own costs, such as the initial development, sustainment and licensing.

Create a simple ROI model that can be applied to automation candidates in a formulaic fashion. This will help you quickly identify the high-value automations (think low hanging-fruit) which can lead your early wins.

Identify Your Automation Objective

A good way of hitting the mark with your automation strategy is to define your automation objectives early on and then go about planning the execution around it.

Some of the common objective’s organizations apply RPA for are reduction of error, reduction of additional cost by reducing human intervention and upskilling human resources. A plug-and-play application of automation may not be the best way to implement RPA.

Idea/Opportunity Identification

After you have created understanding about the automation initiative throughout your organization and established your delivery capacity, one of the next critical steps is making it easy for everyone to contribute.

Communicate the sweet spot for automation. These can be manual processes such as data entry that are highly repetitive, with little variance and limited need for expert decision making.

After your business understands what makes for a strong automation opportunity, make it easy for them to submit their ideas. It could be as simple as an email inbox. This will help you mine hidden-gem opportunities and identify eager members of the business who may move on to become champions of the initiative.

Build Process Knowledge

Identify roles within your organization belonging to areas where you have strong leadership support and build knowledge and understanding about their day-to-day activities.

Your technology department likely already has a good idea of where opportunities for automation may exist, but spending some time on the front-line and observing a few iterations of highly repetitive manual process may be a great way to mine new opportunities.

RPA deployment will hugely benefit from close coordination between the technical teams and user groups. User groups will have a strong view on the repeatability of tasks, and the technical teams will understand the complexity of automation involved.

Another advantage is that together, the teams can zero in on if they would prefer a big-bang enterprise deployment or start small and scale as they gain confidence.

Track and Measure your Automations

As your track record of automation develops, be sure to track each automation after it has been deployed. Build evidence around the effectiveness of automation and the impacts that have been realized.

Understanding how many times an automation is executed daily and the related cost savings can help you essentially “ring the cash register” on your automation initiative. Through this analysis you will understand your actual ROI and identify learnings that can be brought forward into future automations.

After you have collected this information about your automations, provide insightful reporting to management and executives to help ensure their continued support. Most importantly, you need to celebrate your victories!

Want to learn about how RPA can enable credit union employees to improve their personal productivity through automation? Please contact us or talk to your Celero Account Executive to learn more, or to request a demo.

 

Related posts:

5 must-read Robotic Process Automation articles for credit union technology leaders

How every department in your credit union can utilize RPA

Microsoft RPA Webinar Recording

Celero and Fidelity Factory Collaborate to Extend Credit Unions’ Options for Robotic Process Automation

Microsoft Implementation Partner: Fidelity Factory

 

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Building a strategy for your automation initiative