Financial service providers are nowadays under firm pressure to deliver high-quality, scalable solutions at record speed. Moreover, they must do so preferably at low cost, as the financial sector’s margins are being squeezed. Meanwhile, today’s consumers expect their financial service providers to take on the role of advisors who offer value added insights. As a result, more and more organisations are opting for Robotic Process Automation to help them overcome today’s challenges as well as tomorrow’s.
A small impact on IT, a huge effect on business
Robotic process automation (RPA) has long been a hot topic in the financial industry, not in the least because of the many opportunities it offers organizations who want to differentiate themselves in the market. RPA is software, a robot if you will, that simulates the human execution of tasks. The robot is able to interpret existing applications, manipulate data and interact with other systems.
Arguably the biggest advantage of this technology is that it can easily be used for existing applications, without compromising the current IT landscape. While in some cases specific functionalities must be implemented to guarantee a stable solution, RPA implementation requires a relatively small effort compared to extensive IT platform updates. The software speeds up routine tasks, enabling organizations to manage larger volumes. Robotization also allows skilled human resources to focus more on valuable and personalized customer interactions that ultimately make all the difference.
AE and RPA in the financial sector
RPA is the perfect solution for the financial sector to become more agile without relying on outsourcing. AE is currently tasked with multiple RPA assignments for various financial partners. AE consultants Toon Herremans as a business analyst and Maxim Verbiest as a functional analyst focus mainly on mapping the specific processes that could be carried out by robots. In addition, Maxim helped to determine how the robot would effectively optimize certain parts of the automated process.
Toon Herremans: “I was called in by a Belgian bank to draw up a business case for adapting investment rules.” Until recently, this process happened entirely manually when it was initiated in a physical office. Toon explains: “Whenever an end customer wanted to make a change to his investment-related insurances, the office manager created a PDF file which was then sent to a general back office. There, a colleague copied the data manually by typing them into another application.”
Robotization: a comprehensive analysis is half the work
In order to minimize this repetitive process, Toon helped to build a business case; the blueprint that will ultimately control the robot – something he certainly didn’t do overnight. “I kept a close watch on things to ensure quality remained a priority. It meant I had to weigh in on decisions from time to time, and sometimes even put my foot down to make sure everything was done right.” The Robotic Process Automation also came at an excellent time, Toon explains: “The system was ready just in time to handle an exponential increase in requests. It allowed our client to deploy their resources strategically, while the robot significantly increased the bank’s speed of response to this type of adjustment requests. In the future, the bank wants to robotize even more processes within its internal services.
Maxim Verbiest played an active role in piloting robotization within an insurance company: “My first AE assignment brought me in an environment where various processes called for robotization.” One of these processes focused on the creation of tax certificates for pension and long-term savings which are sent to the tax authorities. Maxim is pleased with the experience he gained: “I was granted plenty of freedom to go and talk to the company’s business experts and to map everything out. I can proudly say that I now have a thorough understanding of all manual tasks that will soon be automated.”
Challenges for Robotic Process Automation
Nevertheless, running an RPA project is not without challenges: “The processes that need to be automated can seem very simple at first glance. But looks can be deceiving, and exceptions can easily make processes more complicated. Whenever this is the case, decisions must be made: will exceptions continue to go through a manual flow? Just how complex do we want the RPA tasks to be in the end?”
There is also a difference in how the robot functions, compared to its human counterpart, Maxim continues: “Whenever I talk to business units, they tend to answer my questions from a single customer’s point of view. The trick is to see synergies, so that the robot can work on multiple customers at the same time. This way of working also stimulates employees to reflect on their tasks outside-in.”
In addition to speed, Maxim sees more benefits to RPA technology: “Human mistakes are easily avoided thanks to robotization. A typing error can have major consequences, especially if it concerns, for example, an insurance policy’s identification number. With RPA you can rest assured that information is always processed quickly and correctly. Moreover, because all customer-related data are processed by a robot, fewer employees get in touch with sensitive (even PII) data – an advantage for both the organization and the end customer.”
Time to reap the benefits of RPA
Interested in what Robotic Process Automation can do for your organization? Don’t hesitate to contact us!