Most financial institutions and enterprises begin their digital transformation journey to improve efficiencies, digitize operations and improve their consumer experience. Automating processes is one way to accomplish those goals.
The pandemic and accompanying disruption accelerated that trajectory significantly. In addition to a backlog of tasks, there is increasing pressure to lower costs, do more with less, and support a remote consumer base and workforce. That affects all aspects of an operation, from front-office and administrative staff to back-office operations.
Robotic Process Automation
Companies are dealing with those pressures largely through process automation, and specifically, robotic process automation (RPA), which handles repetitive processes and replaces manual tasks with digital workers. RPA uses low-code software to automate repetitive tasks, resulting in improved efficiency and allowing companies to shift staff towards more value-added and complex activities that machines can't handle.
And the technology's use is growing. According to a 2020 Forrester survey, 48 percent of businesses said they planned to increase their RPA spend in the next 12 months by 5 percent or more.
If your organization is implementing RPA, there are three best practices to consider.
RPA has grown from nice-to-have technology to a necessary, must-have capability.
1. Start Small, Develop a Roadmap and Expand Quickly
Developing a strong plan and roadmap is the first important step. Companies often begin with a relatively straightforward process, which is repeated often to establish initial success and create a recurring framework for RPA deployment. It's important to accurately define the process to be automated, establish clear and defined ownership for the stakeholders, develop a plan for RPA deployment and management, and engage a trusted partner to help with the deployment.
Going through an end-to-end implementation for a single process or small set of processes will help ensure additional, more complex processes will go smoothly based on the deployment framework.
2. Leverage Prebuilt Bots to Rapidly Automate Common Use Cases Faster
Many processes are common across organizations, and vendors often have a library of prebuilt bots. For financial institutions, common use cases include loan processing, deposits, cards, risk, compliance consumer services – any of which may need to interface with core banking or digital banking applications. Other use cases, including human resources, accounts receivable and payable, finance and expense management, are common for all organizations. Leveraging prebuilt assets can accelerate time to market and lower initial investments. Because they are production ready and deliver tangible value faster to organizations and their customers, prebuilt bots can also reduce implementation risks.
3. Enlist a Knowledgeable Partner
Partnering with a vendor with expertise in RPA technology and business process domain knowledge can prove invaluable. While many vendors develop bots, it's important to select a partner that can advise you on the processes to automate to yield the greatest benefits in volume, frequency and definition. A partner with a variety of tools can best help you achieve your roadmap and process demand goals.
An optimal development approach balances speed and flexibility with the need for structure and a smooth delivery. It's important for RPA solutions to operate efficiently in your ecosystem to ensure availability and the ability to be tuned over time.
Nearing universal adoption, the global RPA market is expected to grow at double-digit rates through 2024, according to a 2020 report from Gartner. The next innovations to complement RPA will be AI in addition to speech and image recognition that leverages machine learning. Those innovations will take automation to the next level, from cognitive capabilities to rule-based process automation. Use cases, such as detection of suspicious account activity, removal of false positives, onboarding new customers and fraud reporting, will also be supported.
RPA has grown from nice-to-have technology to a necessary, must-have capability. Organizations that take steps to properly implement and fully integrate RPA will be well-positioned to continue the automation journey and win in an increasingly competitive marketplace.