Identify the Business Value of RPA with Real Banking Examples
What I will never forget from the time that I worked in the finance department is that when an organisation's operating margin is under pressure, by definition, improving the revenues by a certain amount will have a more significant impact than reducing the cost with that same amount.
Back to the essence of this blog now: RPA, Robotic Process Automation. UiPath recently shared a white paper on 'Identifying the Real Business Value of RPA', which started with "The benefits of RPA often focus on cost and time-savings".
Forget the cost-savings aspects. Creative brains that need to convince their organisation to implement RPA will look at this differently. As the author of the paper rightfully noted: "Organisations that have deployed automation report significant benefits in a wide range of business areas including cost reduction, process efficiency, business performance improvement and enhanced customer satisfaction".
Business growth and resilience
COVID-19 demonstrated the need for agility and continuous improvements. Because of its low-cost character and easy and fast deployment, RPA allows organisations to quickly adapt processes whenever needed. The example in the paper from ICON, a contract research company, was striking.
Tom Leary, CIO at ICON: "The cost of developing a new drug is around $2 billion. We saw that RPA could eliminate the need for manually transferring data from clinical sites to trial master files, reducing errors and delays and reducing data loss by detecting anomalies more quickly and reliably than manual review".
Another advantage they saw was "the ability to accommodate legacy systems and create seamless and secure data flow from previously siloed systems".
Financial services may not have the same processes, but the similarities are striking.
RPA will help organisations to automate mundane and repetitive tasks in a process. That is how healthcare insurer Fidelity achieved a 200% growth without adding new resources. For others, it is an opportunity to let people work on more value-creating tasks.
RPA will make a business more responsive in the way they deal with customers without additional staffing. On top of that, automating the process will improve data quality leading to better customer service.
Back in 2017, this triggered Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation to launch an RPA project with the ambition to save up to £810 million in the medium term. Key areas were compliance and risk, support, routine headquarter processes and information gathering processes to enhance sales and planning capabilities.
Every manual intervention that RPA can take away liberates time for employees to build deeper relationships. On top of that, automation processes generate much faster feedback, and in a more structured way. Necessary evil formalities are limited to a minimum, and improved reporting helps an organisation to understand customer needs better.
A good inspiration for financial services is NOS. NOS is a Portuguese Telecom and Entertainment Group which has a loyalty service based on discount cards. Through RPA, they reduced the approval process from two weeks to two days.
Another example is Fiserv, a global provider of financial technology and support services for the financial services industry, with 8K agents in contact centres. RPA made them reduce the average handle time by 20%, increasing the Net Promotor Score by 10%.
Perhaps the most quoted argument pro RPA is "taking mundane tasks away from staff to free them for more rewarding work". Financial services are complex and required skilled employees. With more regulation coming to the industry every day, each additional expert is welcome to assist banks in remaining compliant.
By taking away pure administrative tasks, these people can get the additional training to re-skill and up-skill them value-adding jobs instead of purely enter data in the system.
Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group expected to free more than 3 million hours within 3 years after going live, an equivalent to the workload of about 1.500 people.
To help their employees understand how RPA helps create more rewarding jobs, Fidelity Insurance came up with an unofficial project tagline: "drop the drudgery". It visualised the role of RPA in their day-to-day job, jobs that were not eliminated but augmented.
Agreed, RPA has the potential to cut costs, but in most organisations, this is not the fundamental reason to invest in it. By looking at top-line opportunities, project sponsors will much faster gain a positive business case, with a higher buy-in from the entire organisation.
The complete guide, with more inspirational stories, can be downloaded here. If you are more interested in the live stories, make sure you register for The Banking Scene Afterwork on March 25 or May 6 on Automation in Banking.