Robot arm moving gears.

Serving to automate, simplify and create efficiencies, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions offer great advantages to financial institutions to speed up manual processes and tasks.

For credit unions, the adoption of RPA solutions can allow members to be served more effectively. However, unlike other technologies, RPA solutions are unique in how they do this. Credit unions have many processes and tasks that are repetitive in nature, and RPA solutions enable the automation of these workflows to be completed more effectively so employees can focus on important tasks that require more thought, analysis and human judgment.

When it comes to these repetitive processes, it simply takes longer for people to perform these tasks and they run the risk of making more errors than an automated process would. RPA allows you to reduce the time it takes to complete processes and tasks, while increasing the accuracy of information flowing through the organization.

To help you learn more about RPA and how it could benefit your credit union, we did a deep dive into RPA thought leadership and have curated a list of compelling articles. These will allow you to build your own understanding of the role RPA can play in financial services and how you can use these solutions to adapt, transform and improve the operations of your business.

How to Explain Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Plain English

This article by The Enterprisers Project does a good job of breaking down what RPA is, its benefits and some ways businesses are already deploying it. They note that the use of the word “robotic” in RPA can be confusing — all it really refers to is the software robots (or “bots”) that run on a physical or virtual machine.

It can be easier to think of RPA that way: a software that can help automate manual workflows.

Breaking down the everyday tasks of your business can seem daunting, but RPA doesn’t need to replace entire end-to-end processes. In fact, some of the best use-cases for RPA replace smaller pieces of larger tasks to save time and reduce errors. Often these are things like data entry, or cross-referencing data for accuracy across disparate systems.

Another important note to remember about RPA highlighted in the article is that although RPA is often talked about in conjunction with AI or machine learning capabilities, RPA alone does not have the ability to evaluate and make decisions about information. It simply replicates rule-based processes where there is a defined outcome; if a step in the process is disrupted, RPA cannot make a value-based judgement call about what should happen next. It will simply alert a human that there is an error so they can decide.

But, this is also the reason RPA and AI complement each other well — when an RPA software runs into an issue, AI and machine learning can help fill the decision-making gaps.

9 Promising Use Cases for RPA in Finance and Accounting

This article by TechTarget offers several interesting use cases of how the Hewlett-Packard Enterprises (HPE) finance and account business units have deployed RPA (you’ll need to enter your email to read this one, but it’s worth it).

Some of the ways HPE has deployed RPA that stuck out as transferable use cases for credit unions include:

  • Reconciling accounts: Comparing account balances across systems to improve journal entry processes and final financial account reconciliations. This is extremely useful for month-end, quarter-end and year-end reporting, all of which can be extremely stressful for finance teams, especially when discrepancies and errors occur that can take hours or even days to find and correct.
  • Remediating data discrepancies: Dirty data can quickly become a nightmare if data warehouses aren’t regular vetted and sanitized. The article notes that RPA can remediate issues with data by automating processes to “quickly and efficiently [scan] the data, [find] issues and [bring] them to a team member’s attention for review. … once the correct data is identified, a bot can programmatically correct the data issue across all impacted systems.”
  • P&L Reporting: There are many manual tasks associated with profit and loss (P&L) reporting that can be automated through RPA. Finance teams tend to invest a lot of energy into simply pulling information to prepare these reports, when they could better spend their time in the analysis and making recommendations to improve P&L.

For those who fear RPA will replace individual employees or entire teams, TechTarget helps put those fears to rest. RPA really serves to supplement the work of existing teams, and can eliminate the need for people to complete mundane, boring tasks that they dread. The article notes that:

[To address] fears that the robots are coming for the finance teams’ jobs, it’s important to include those teams on RPA projects both to allay fears and to find new opportunities … Project leaders can start by inviting a few people from a finance team into an automation lab for a few days a month to practice putting new bots into a production environment. Over the course of the rest of the month they will notice how the bot worked and can identify any in-use problems or limitations. These deep dives can also teach them how to spot other automation opportunities between sprints in their daily work.

Proper human judgement is still required for RPA to function well, so teams need not fear this new technology.

How RPA can Benefit Financial Services Firms

This article by TELUS International outlines how to balance making inefficient, human-involved tasks into automated actions to free up employee time so teams can focus on the big picture.

TELUS International stresses the need to have an RPA strategy in place prior to implementation to clearly define your goals. They also cover common pitfalls to avoid, emphasizing the need for organizations to start with automating the smallest, simplest tasks. This will allow for period of trial and error, and for teams to truly understand the capabilities and limitations for RPA before working up to using RPA for more complex processes.

When deployed intelligently, RPA can help boost your bottom line. In fact, stats in the article suggest that “RPA revenues in banking will reach $1.2 billion by 2023. That’s a 400% jump between the $200 million RPA raked in during 2018”. That alone is a great reason to explore the technology that has been rapidly gaining popularity within the financial sector.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for Financial Services

This article by Great Minds helps identify the individual components of a process that you can automate, while including some end-to-end examples of what a fully automated process could look like.

They outline what sets RPA apart from other automation tools, citing the following differentiators:

  • Fast benefit realization
  • Minimal upfront investment
  • No disruption to existing enterprise infrastructure or systems
  • Led by the business with support from IT
  • Highly scalable and adaptable

They also have some interesting ideas for use cases that might help spark some ideas for application within your own organization.

How RPA and AI Revolutionize the Banking & Finance Industry

Approaching RPA solutions from a different view, this article by Infopulse will interest those who are responsible for the AML functions within their credit union, as it offers insights into reducing fraud through automation. While the other articles focus on cost reduction and increasing human availability, this article makes the point that reducing human error is a valuable benefit to investing in an RPA solution.

It also contains a bit more of a deep-dive on how RPA and AI can work hand in hand, an important consideration as your RPA strategy becomes more sophisticated.

What’s next

Celero has recently begun offering RPA solutions to credit unions through our network of vendor partners. If these articles got you thinking about how you can explore using RPA for your credit union, contact us or talk to your Celero Account Executive to chat about putting RPA to work for you.

Editors note: this post was originally published in August, 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and new insights.

About Celero
Celero is a leading provider of digital technology and integration solutions to credit unions and financial institutions across Canada. Clients trust Celero’s proven track record delivering innovative banking technologies, digital and payment solutions, cloud computing, outsourcing, IT and advisory services.

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