Vinod Tharakan is the founder and director of ClaySys Technologies, a technology consulting firm with more than 230 employees specializing in automation solutions. Claysys is working closely with MDC and a number of our credit unions in the automation space with a focus on using robotic process automation to automate processes and workflows. Some of ClaySys’s other clients include Wells Fargo, Deloitte, Bloomberg, JP Morgan Chase, First Financial, Nike, Exxon-Mobil, 3M and Facebook.
Robotic process automation (RPA) is one of the fastest growing automation initiatives in practically all industries. Here at ClaySys, RPA has been fastest growing line of business over the last 24 months. However, as with any new and disruptive technology, most organizations, including credit unions, face the intimidating challenge of how best to identify the most practical RPA use cases to deliver the most impact in terms of ROI metrics like process cycle times, process automation, and member experience.
Ask any worker which task they’d most like a push-button solution for, and they’ll usually tell you about something that is non-routine but complex and painful for them when it arises. At ClaySys Technologies, we’ve implemented RPA automation across multiple industries, including within MDC’s credit union owner, and we’ve found that the biggest ROI with RPA actually occurs when automating the relatively simple but high-volume and time-consuming tasks employees usually spend the majority of their time doing but which aren’t painful at all for them to complete. Automating these processes will most often result in significant—and in many cases exponential—ROI in terms of both process efficiency gains and consumer experience.
So how should one go about finding and selecting the appropriate RPA use cases and opportunities at credit unions? We recommend the following best practices.
- Create RPA Use Case Selection Criteria – Identify some measurable criteria for the desired outcomes from automating any processes at the credit union. The expected impact on these metrics will help you evaluate which processes to tackle first. Some of the most common metrics include the reduction in labor hours required for a process, the tangible impact to member experience (e.g., the speed at which a member’s need is resolved), and reductions in costs.
- Identify High Volume Processes – Review high volume tasks and processes across all of your business sectors, ideally (but optionally) performing time studies to create objective metrics. RPA opportunities exist in almost any process, so even just very high-level discussions with business leaders in any department about their high-volume processes will allow them to nominate their top opportunities for RPA.
- Assess RPA Automation Feasibility – Once the high-volume processes are identified, each can be evaluated regarding the degree to which it can be automated and the resultant time and cost savings. Some of the RPA automation use cases that have delivered the most ROI have been processes which have not been fully automated, as even automating 70% to 80% of the processes can deliver significant ROI. In many cases, even automating just 20% of a process delivered worthwhile ROI.
- Assess RPA Automation Simplicity – All else being equal, the best candidates for RPA automation are those that are quite simple to deliver. The simplest tasks to automate using RPA involve data retrieval, data entry, and data manipulation using structured data, where RPA bots interact with existing software applications, screens and forms, Excel files, or other structured data formats. Use cases where you need to have the RPA bot work with unstructured data, such as data in scanned image files, unstructured PDF or Word documents, etc., are a lot more challenging.
- Apply the 80/20 Rule – As a general rule, it is often the case that 80% of the work related to a given process is easy to automate, and the remaining 20% is quite complex or difficult to automate. In such cases, automating the 80% is where the large majority of the ROI lies, while automating the remaining 20% would require much more work for a much smaller benefit. By focusing on the 80%, you can generate the most value from RPA with the lowest effort. This approach also reduces ongoing maintenance issues and costs, as most of the maintenance required around any automated process generally involves its most complicated pieces. Indeed, often the most practical approach for supporting processes through RPA is to assume that only 80% of the process volume can be automated with the plan that the RPA bot will leave the remaining complex 20% of the process to a human user.
By applying the best practices outlined above, any credit union can begin down the automation path with confidence that their efforts will produce results.
Any credit unions interested in working with ClaySys Technologies to implement automation can contact Kent Zimmer. MDC owners are also reminded that ClaySys Technologies is able to implement RPA technology on the Pegasystems bot platform in order to take advantage of the preferred pricing MDC has arranged if they sign up before December 31.