While credit unions initially lagged behind their bank counterparts in adopting robotic process automation (RPA), RPA now appears to be making significant inroads as more and more credit unions recognize the advantages automation has to offer.
A new survey by Blueprint Software Systems indicates that, on average, credit unions and banks currently have 120 automated processes in production, while the average size of their spend on RPA is hovering near $500,000. Survey respondents also reported plans to substantially increase the size of their automation teams, with two departments – IT and Finance and Accounting, which currently own more than 70%n of all automations – expected to be the largest beneficiaries.
It’s not hard to understand why credit unions are making the shift to RPA. Because most of the data processing operations undertaken by credit unions are fairly straightforward, automating them is relatively easy and would result in significant time- and cost-savings. McKinsey estimates that 85% of organizations’ 900-plus processes can be automated, greatly reducing the potential for human error while dramatically improving data accuracy.
To date, credit unions have tended to use RPA to streamline a wide range of processes, including everything from processing daily wire credits and managing credit card billing to enrolling new members, onboarding new employees, and originating loans. The Blueprint survey, however, shows that there is a strong desire to automate more complex, end-to-end processes. This, in turn, would likely necessitate a transition from legacy RPA tools to a newer generation of cloud-based intelligent automation platforms.
As this shift occurs, credit unions seem most likely to favor one of the four major platforms that are continuing to dominate the RPA market – Microsoft Power Automate, Automation Anywhere, Blue Prism, and UiPath – according to the survey. Of these, Power Automate seems to have the edge, with users drawn by its ease of use, lower licensing fees, and ability to extend its capabilities to other parts of the Microsoft ecosystem.
Some credit unions also seem to be open to using multiple RPA platforms, despite the fact that such an approach would appear to be more expensive and less efficient. Forty percent of survey respondents reported that their organizations are using multiple automation platforms, primarily because these strategies offer better compatibility with their enterprise architecture and allow them to employ specialized tools for specific use cases.
Regardless of whether credit unions decide on a cloud-based RPA platform, multiple automation platforms, or the legacy platform they’ve been using all along, it makes sense for them to take stock of exactly what automations they already have in place and how well those automations are performing before doing anything else. Taking that initial step will allow them to identify which automations are working well and which ones are redundant or failing to deliver value, both of which represent an easily eliminated expense in terms of licensing fees and maintenance.
To provide just one example of how a problematic automation can impact an organization, one institution recently determined that one of its more than 300 automations was costing them $1million to maintain while simultaneously delivering less than $300,000 in business value. With that kind of cost-benefit analysis in hand, eliminating that costly automation was a simple decision.
An equally important part of this analysis is determining whether the process design documents for the existing automations still exist. While these documents served as the blueprints for the credit union’s current automation practices, all too often they are outdated or missing altogether, meaning these programs have no governance. (Governance, in fact, was one of three objectives – in addition to applying RPA across the entire organization and automating more complex processes – identified by survey respondents as critical to their future RPA planning.
With this vital information in hand, credit unions will be in a much better position to determine what automations should be re-platformed (and in what order), which should be done away with, and what remaining automations it makes sense from a business standpoint to redeploy. They may also recognize that modernizing their automation estates may not necessarily be the right fit for them at this time.
With artificial intelligence and machine learning looming on the horizon and RPA in the banking sector (including credit unions) expected to reach $1.12 billion by 2025, a transition to complete, end-to-end intelligent automation is likely inevitable for most credit unions. Given that, there is no time like the present for credit unions to begin assessing their automation estate, with an eye toward eventually moving beyond task-based automation to whatever the next frontier in the automation space holds for each institution.
Tony Higgins is the Chief Product Officer at Blueprint Software Systems and is responsible for the vision and evolution of Blueprint’s Business Transformation Platform, a powerful solution that helps large enterprises understand how work is getting done today, so that they can improve it as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Tony has a broad base of software delivery skills and experience ranging from start-ups to global enterprises, and is passionate about building technology that helps organizations consolidate all of their process information in one place, allowing them to optimize and automate their business processes. For more information, visit https://www.blueprintsys.com/