RPA in Banking: Start Small for a Big Impact

Everyone in banking, even in small banks and lenders, is hearing about Robotic Process Automation (RPA). But what's the best way to integrate RPA into banking? Start small.

At first, automation seems like a massive endeavor, raising questions such as:

  • Is RPA suitable for small banks and lenders?
  • What can we automate?
  • Where should we start?
  • How do we prevent it from taking over our jobs?

One might try to automate every process, but that's not advisable. Instead, it is better to start small. It's about selecting the right tasks and processes for automation and examining existing processes to ensure that you're not automating a process that should ideally be replaced.

Don't get overwhelmed with all the possibilities. Start small, with a few targeted processes that offer quick ROI. Trying to tackle all processes simultaneously without a clear direction will not work. Starting small allows you to demonstrate the value of your RPA solution and show employees that RPA is a partner, not a threat. Also, it offers a few key advantages:

By improving security (fewer people handling sensitive data), reducing time spent on repetitive, manual tasks, and eliminating errors, you gain a competitive edge. As your employees no longer have to waste time on monotonous, manual, unnecessary tasks, they can focus on customers - which is why people prefer small banks and lenders; to be able to talk to people and know they are more than just a number.

One of the initial processes to automate can be audit reports. Every bank, no matter its size, needs to comply with multiple regulations and is audited accordingly. With RPA, you can generate tasks for audits, transaction reviews, compliance checks for loans and deposits, and other significant processes:

  • Onboarding processes
  • Security checks
  • Checks for expired contracts
  • Checks for inactive users
  • Event logs
  • Compliance reporting

While these types of reports are critical to a bank, they can be easily overlooked when they need to be manually created. And you don't want to be behind when an auditor comes knocking. Your first win with RPA not only saves you time but also ensures you are audit-ready; you can schedule regular reports without human intervention.

Every bank has a help desk or service desk for IT issues. Of course, the idea is not to automate all tickets, but implementing RPA for several common issues with predictable solutions reduces the number of emails sent to the IT department and helps solve user problems faster. For instance:

  • Password resets
  • Installing updates and patches
  • Restarting servers

Processes to check if email is working, to verify internet function, and to identify slow applications can also be automated. If these processes are run on a regular basis, problems can be identified and resolved before someone even has the chance to contact the help desk.

One of the best RPA use cases are repetitive processes, such as daily balance making. If you need to run specific processes several times a day or week and have to wait for one task to complete before you can proceed to the next step, that's a good process to automate.

For example, suppose you need to log in to a website twice a day, pull the totals from the page, download a file from the website, upload the file to a network folder, generate a report, and compare figures on the webpage and in the reports to ensure they match. You can eliminate all these manual steps by automating the entire process and setting up different contingencies within the RPA task in advance.

Automating processes with RPA not only reduces manual work but can also improve processes by using an API to directly connect to a data source – something humans can't do.

By starting with the automation of small, seemingly insignificant processes, you can gradually optimize other processes within your business. This gives you the momentum you need to continue improving.

When it's time to evaluate other processes, consider the following factors:

  • Time savings: How much time will your team save by not having to perform this task manually?
  • Importance: How crucial is this process for the business? Does it help save time and generate more revenue?
  • Errors: What's the likelihood of human errors within this process? What impact do errors have on the business?
  • Effort to automate: Does it take more effort to automate than to perform the task?
  • Urgency: How quickly does this task need to be automated to benefit?
  • Lifespan of automation: Can this task be reused? Can you benefit from it multiple times, or is it a one-time use?

Finally, when it comes to RPA in banking, starting small is the key to success. It's about having people do what only humans can do, and having software robots do what humans don't want to do (and can make mistakes in). Start with a few simple processes so your team can get used to working with robots. This way, your employees will see automation as a helpful tool, not as a threat.