A strategic approach to building your credit union’s automation initiative

September 27, 2022

A strategic approach to building your credit union’s automation initiative

September 27, 2022

Credit Union RPA

Credit unions like yours can launch themselves into a new era of modern and evolved processes through Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and hyper-automation. We partnered with Celero to dive deeper into this topic.

Sean is a member of MNP’s Digital Services team in Calgary. Delivering business-critical solutions for the past two decades, Sean is a strategic advisor delivering tailored solutions that create effective workflows. Sean helps his team deliver process modernization solutions with the Microsoft Power Platform across a broad range of business lines.

Analysts have shared consistent and clear sentiment that automation is becoming an essential aspect of business growth and modernization. Whenever you make an investment in technology, strategy is paramount.

What is the importance of implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) at your credit union? What are the most important areas to focus on as you build your automation strategies?

Why automate?

RPA is low-code technology that allows your credit union to replicate human activities and reduce the need for human intervention in everyday tasks. Its purpose is to improve efficiency by replacing manual execution of processes, which can be expensive and prone to errors.

Financial institutions cannot afford to overlook the technical disruptions that have penetrated all aspects of everyday life. These disruptions are already re-aligning your members’ expectations of how your credit union can, and should, deliver value to them. The only way your institution can be more customer focused and reduce costs is to also reduce unnecessary human interventions and instead use human resources to add more value to client-facing activities.

Teal quotation marks

Hyper-automation has shifted from an option to a condition of survival.

– Fabrizio Biscotti, Research Vice President at Gartner

It's automation, not robotics

To many people, RPA sounds like high-end technology comparable to artificial intelligence. This misconception can lead to the impression that RPA is a costly tool. In reality, the tools are fairly low-code and aren’t cognitive, making the initial cost of ownership and the repetitive cost of expanding automation within an organization lower than most believe it is.

RPA is more about automation than robotics. It mimics human activity, so no skill upgrade is required for the business users of your credit union. You can use your available human bandwidth for higher value and client-facing jobs, making it especially valuable in a labour market where high-performing staff are difficult to acquire and crucial to retain.

In the following sections, let’s look at how your credit union can get started with its automation journey.

Establish a stable foundation

Before you get your RPA initiatives off the ground, you need three foundational elements in place:

Support at all levels of the organization, beginning at the top, is imperative for technology initiatives that affect business processes. Ensure that you have buy-in from the necessary stakeholders before engaging business units. If your credit union’s technology team tries to promote automation without the support of top-level decision makers, they will only be met with frustration.

Administering, managing, and owning the automation initiative should fall into the hands of a Center of Excellence team. They act as the automation stakeholders that will help you shepherd the initiative from inception through to operation and sustainment.

Assess your credit union’s capacity to own this technology and identify your gaps. A trusted and unbiased external partner can help propel your automation initiative forward. A good practice is to identify product champions who will proliferate the usage of the tool within your organization.

Identify your automation objective

A good way to optimize your credit union’s automation strategy is to define your automation objectives early and then plan the execution around them.

Some of the common objectives that organizations apply RPA for include:

  • Reduction of error
  • Reduction of additional cost by reducing human intervention
  • Upskilling human resources

Once you know what your objectives are, you will be able to identify if a plug-and-play application may work for your organization, or if you will require a more customized approach to implement RPA that meets your requirements.

Identification of ideas and opportunities

After you’ve built an internal understanding of the automation initiative and established your delivery capacity, one of the next critical steps is to make contributing easy for everyone.

Communicate the sweet spot for automation. For example, it could include manual processes such as data entry — highly repetitive, with little variance or need for expert decision-making.

After your credit union understands what makes for a strong automation opportunity, make it easy for them to submit their ideas. Soliciting feedback with a solution as simple as an email inbox helps you mine hidden-gem opportunities and identify eager team members who may move on to become champions of the initiative.

Understand the tools and systems

Before introducing any new technology, take the time to understand how it will affect your business. The obvious areas you should consider first are the features and benefits. A clear understanding of the features and benefits will help you understand how a technology will add value to your credit union and fit into your technology stack.

Have you encountered pitfalls in previous adoptions of new technology? Educating yourself about the technology’s features will help you avoid those pitfalls and implement new tools smoothly. You can reach out to business partners and industry peers to understand more about how a technology has impacted their business. Considering the nuances of deployment, change management, adoption, and training is also important.

Focus on return on investment (ROI)

One of the fundamental equations of any investment is understanding the return that it will provide. This applies to an investment in automation as well.

Assessing the potential ROI of a new automation process requires you to look at fixed costs and up-front investment considerations. The costs you need to consider include licensing, deployment, training, adoption, and change management.

The returns will occur when you begin automating. Each automation will come with its own costs, such as the initial development, sustainment, and licensing.

Create a simple ROI model that you can apply to automation candidates in a formulaic fashion. This will help you quickly identify the high-value automations (the low-hanging fruit) which can lead you to early wins.

Build process knowledge

Identify roles within your organization in areas where you have strong leadership support, and then build an understanding of their day-to-day activities.

Most likely, your technology department already has a strong ability to spot opportunities for automation. But spending some time on the front line and observing a few iterations of highly repetitive manual processes can be a great way to identify new opportunities.

Your credit union’s RPA deployment will benefit immensely from close coordination between technical teams and user groups. User groups will have the best insights on the repeatability of tasks, and the technical teams will understand the complexity of automation involved.

Together, the teams can also determine if they would prefer a big-bang enterprise deployment or to start small and scale as they gain confidence.

Track and measure your automations

As you move further down the path of automation, be sure to track each automation tool after it has been deployed. Build evidence around the effectiveness of automation and the impacts each new tool has had.

For example, by understanding how many times an automation is executed daily, and the related cost savings, you essentially “ring the cash register” on your automation initiative. This analysis is what allows you to understand your actual ROI and identify learnings that can be implemented during future automations. After collecting this information about your automations, provide insightful reports to management and executives to help ensure their continued support.

Most importantly though, celebrate your victories! By making sure your team understands how they have contributed to a successful RPA program, it will inspire faster adoption in the future and enable your team to look for more opportunities.

Take the next steps

Our team can assist with selecting the proper platform for large language models, determining which ones to use, and how to implement, secure, and optimize your data and AI cloud services.

If you’re ready to put generative AI to work for you, contact MNP’s knowledgeable and experienced AI team to learn how to get started.