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Growth Plans Lead SkyOne FCU to Hybrid-Cloud Robotic Process Automation As A Service

The $600+ million SkyOne Federal Credit Union is on a path to growth, but instead of forcing employees to work harder or hiring more staff, the recently installed executive team decided it was time to work smarter.

SkyOne Federal Credit Union CTO Michael Carlos joined the credit union about a year ago. Several processes the credit union was performing manually were monotonous for employees and time consuming for the credit union’s payroll. Installing digital assistants to perform redundant tasks in the card dispute and charge-offs processes has saved the credit union dozens of hours a month, potential compliance headaches and improved employee morale.

“I look at the organization, we’re not a huge organization, but we are growing very fast,” he acknowledged. “We’ve been very successful over the last two years, but it is evident that we need some help in terms of adding more efficiency because of our growth spurt.”

Carlos went through a complete RFP process after he’d determined robotic process automation seemed to be the direction to take SkyOne.

“After talking to folks who had worked with Digital Align and interviewing their current clients, gathering some very candid feedback, and talking to Rajesh [Patil, CEO of Digital Align] and understanding his approach in how they deal with customers, for the size of our organization for the things that we want to do for the pilot, Digital Align was the right fit for the hands-on involvement that we needed,” Carlos said.

RPA Pilot Program

Prior to employing automation, SkyOne Federal Credit Union processed all its credit card disputes and charge offs manually. “We had to go in, actually log each individual transaction on a spreadsheet, manually go in and post provisional credits on for each transaction as well,” SkyOne FCU Card Services Manager Randy May detailed. “With this automated bot, it does that for us and keeps us in compliance to ensure that the members are receiving their provisional credit in time.”

Robert Ceballos, operations support specialist, added on the charge-off side, “The old process was very tedious. Now all I do is I just monitor the Excel file. I spot check it a few times a week to make sure that the information is being transferred accurately over to FIS, but it allows me to use that extra time on something else. I’m an asset to the company, a resource, so anytime I’m able to save, I can apply it somewhere else.”

Partnering with Digital Align to automate the card-dispute and charge-off processes has made an incredibly positive impact on SkyOne’s productivity in these areas. Just one bot working on these two small areas have saved the credit union’s team a total of 32 hours each month, but at full capacity, that one bot could save the credit union around $16,000 per month in compensation expenses because SkyOne can activate the bot rather than hiring new employees.

“That’s what was so exciting about this opportunity is just seeing that time savings!” May said excitedly. “These are steps that we should not have to spend the time on. I don’t want to say these aren’t important, but we have other important items, like the investigation time on those disputes. Now we have more investigative time to spend in member service, time during which we can reach out to those members more often and provide better service to them because of that time savings.”

Regarding charge offs, Ceballos said, “I’ve always thought that there was a lot of time being spent on that process.” He added that he had never been part of a project like this before, and just seeing everything that was done on the back end was an amazing experience.

“I refer to the bot as my personal assistant,” Ceballos quipped, “because that’s what it’s doing: It’s assisting me. It’s been a great experience, and I know that as the volume increases, we’re going to see the rewards long term.”

Ceballos did note that the time-savings figures were pre-pandemic; the COVID-19 assistance has slowed the charge offs running through his department, “but once we go back to some type of normal operations, I’m sure that volume is going to go up, and that’s when we’re going to see the huge difference.”

Compliance efficiencies, particularly related to Reg E in May’s department is another time-saving benefit of automation. If Reg E isn’t followed or the Visa rules aren’t followed, credit unions can lose the authority to issue credit cards. SkyOne can now accomplish its Reg E compliance, while also avoiding human error and problems that may arise when people take sick leave and others fill in.

Additionally, negative shares are considered audit exceptions, Ceballos said, which falls within his purview. “There’s no reason why those audits shouldn’t be done on a daily basis. They must be processed on the same day. Also, reporting data to FIS has got to be done for accuracy for when members calling in, and they want to pay off whatever monies are owed to SkyOne, then that information is being reported timely and accurately daily using automation. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to reinstate an account.” It’s all about serving the members, he added.

May said, “We’re just going to see that time savings grow in the future.” He added that SkyOne is a big supporter of professional development and that the extra time can be dedicated to that and member service.

On top of the Digital Align team’s ability to diagnose inefficiencies and apply solutions, they’re very innovative, May said. “I think they’re very innovative at trying to figure out solutions, and tailoring it to SkyOne, because every system is different.”

May concluded, “Digital is one of our strategic priorities and improving our processes. We’re ready now; we’re getting prepared for the future through this Digital Align experience.”

Digital Align’s Patil said, “I’ve been working in credit unions for more than 10 years, and it’s exciting to see credit union leaders are looking to innovate to better serve their members, their staff and their credit unions. SkyOne has been excellent to work with as our first client to adopt the hybrid cloud-based PaaS model. I’m pleased the credit union is already experiencing positive results. I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

Carlos added Digital Align was the perfect fit, and there’s more RPA in SkyOne’s future. The credit union’s Center for Excellence is reviewing how to improve all its business processes. “This is just the tip of the iceberg,” SkyOne’s technology leader said.

About Digital Align

Digital Align is an experienced team of experts who streamline processes so financial institutions can do more with less. Our Digital Transformation and Solution experts understand how to deploy innovative solutions to enhance capabilities across all departments within financial institutions. We have decades of experience building digital strategy roadmaps, developing executable plans and implementing digital solutions to generate better ROIs for financial institutions.

About the Author:  
Sarah Snell Cooke is principal at Cooke Consulting Solutions, a communications strategy and business development firm serving business partners in the community financial institutions market. She has more than 20 years of experience in communications and credit unions. Most recently, Cooke served as publisher and editor-in-chief of Credit Union Times, leading the publication to two consecutive years of record readership, revenue and profitability. She is also the secretary of the board at $500M APL FCU and co-chair of the DC Sister Society of WOCCU’s Global Women’s Leadership Network. She was named to the 2015 Folio Top Women in Media and ALM Media’s 2015 Manager of the Year. Cooke holds an MBA and a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a minor in journalism.

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