The robotic process automation (RPA) market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.83% through 2027. Almost half of the growth will occur in North America. About 50% of implemented RPA solutions in the US occur in banks and insurance carriers, although the credit union market has been slower to adopt the technology.
Lower operating costs continues to be a primary motivator for RPA implementation; however, labor shortages are adding pressure to automate repetitive manual tasks. With one out of five workers looking to leave their current position within the next year, businesses need to consider automation technology as a way to retain existing employees and attract new candidates.
Recent research estimates that RPA can reduce labor-intensive tasks by as much as 80%, allowing employees to be redirected to higher-value tasks. Automation also reduces errors by eliminating the re-entry of data into multiple systems. A single error can require hours of manual effort to correct.
As the financial services sector grows even more competitive, credit unions need to consider RPA solutions to move their digital transformation forward and deliver customer-centric experiences as seamlessly as possible. Let's explore ways RPA can help.
Gartner defines robotic process automation (RPA) as software scripts called bots that automate repetitive manual processes. RPA solutions can be categorized by the following:
Deciding on the best solution should begin with human participation. The degree of manual intervention determines the cognitive and programming requirements for an RPA solution.
Attended RPA automation needs human interaction to execute it fully. Suppose credit unions have loan information spread across multiple applications. When a member calls, the agent has to search for the information while the member is on hold. Instead, an icon could be placed on the desktop. When selected, an RPA script collects all the information and presents it to the agent.
The agent doesn't become frustrated looking for the information. The member is pleased with a quick and consistent response. The automated process makes it easier for new hires to answer loan questions. Multiple RPAs could be created for frequently asked questions for a better customer experience.
Unattended automation executes using programmatic triggers that indicate when an action should occur. For example, members complete online loan applications. When submitted, an RPA process picks up the information, ingests it, and evaluates it for completeness. If items are missing or require added information, the process would contact the member via email, asking for the missing information.
If the application has the needed information, the process could pull credit reports and compare them to internal standards. Based on the comparison, RPA processes could notify denied members or forward applications with supporting documentation to underwriting. No human interaction is required until the application is sent to underwriting.
Hybrid RPA combines attended and unattended solutions to complete a workflow process. RPA scheduling triggers could be established to prepare monthly compliance reports automatically. Once complete, the documents could be forwarded to the appropriate personnel for sign-off. Signed documents function as a second trigger that files the reports with the appropriate entities. People are needed for the process to move from generating reports to submitting them, but RPAs handle the labor-intensive tasks.
In today's workplace environment, the greatest RPA benefit may be improving employee morale. Credit unions that have offloaded repetitive tasks to RPA solutions create a positive culture that attracts and retains employees. Employees do not spend hours on robotic tasks but have time to deliver exceptional member experiences.
In addition to improved morale, RPA solutions provide credit unions with the following benefits:
These benefits translate into an improved member experience. Employees do not feel as rushed and can focus on member needs. Fewer manual processes increase response times and reduce errors, resulting in higher member satisfaction.
Intelligent automation or hyper-automation uses multiple technologies to deliver automated services to solve business problems. Intelligent RPA integrates artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) with cloud-based technology to enable RPA solutions to extend their automation capabilities.
Take the unattended RPA loan example. The technology responds to a trigger, such as a completed application arriving in a designated folder or inbox. The application is reviewed for completeness. If something is missing, an email is sent asking for the missing data.
If complete, the process pulls credit scores and compares them against credit union standards. For applications that fall below the cut-off, a denial is sent to the member. All applications above the number are forwarded to underwriting. The process works well for those members who clearly fall into a set category.
What about those in the "grey" area? RPA doesn't understand grey. An application either is or isn't in a group. Adding ML or AI enables the technology to learn what constitutes "maybe" and what additional data is needed to determine a member's ability to repay a loan. Technology can increase a credit union's loans without adding to underwriting's workload or placing the credit union at a greater risk.
AI requires data -- lots of data -- to identify patterns and make decisions. Maintaining the hardware and software for an intelligent RPA implementation can be cost-prohibitive. Cloud-based RPA platforms can help manage the volume of data needed for hyper-automation cost-effectively.
Research indicates a move towards cloud-based solutions, with the majority of financial institutions moving to the cloud by 2030. Growth in RPA hyper-automation is expected to average 25% CAGR through 2030, with North America being the primary market. On-premise solutions will remain steady or decline over the next ten years.
Although RPA can work in every credit union, it may not be the right solution for every process. Before attempting to automate, ask the following questions:
Credit unions will receive a better return on investment if the process is used frequently. If the task is routine with little deviation, it's a prime candidate for RPA.
Converting a consistent process to RPA software can be cost-effective as the software is written and deployed with little to no additional expenditures. Determining the cost to complete without RPA identifies frequent, low-cost tasks such as onboarding new members or accepting loan applications. These processes could be quickly automated to reduce errors, generate faster response times, and save time.
Infrequent and high-cost tasks are also candidates for automation. If collecting data for compliance reports takes 40 hours, once a quarter, the ROI may be worth an RPA conversion. Implementing an RPA solution that collects data as it is received can help reduce the time needed to prepare a report.
Compiling data for reports can be a mind-numbing task. Employees must remember to collect data from multiple sources and ensure the data is in the same format for processing. They may have to convert data or re-enter it because the various systems are not integrated. This type of housekeeping task can wear on employees and lower morale.
RPA can eliminate the mundane functions that cause employees to disengage and create room for added training or development growth. Engaged employees are happy employees who are less likely to leave.
Cotribute helps credit unions automate their basic processes, such as new account onboarding and loan application processing. Designed to work with a range of existing solutions, Cotribute's platform can make for a better member experience while helping to maintain a strong bottom line. Schedule a demo today.