7 tips for financial services trying to break through the RPA glass ceiling

Main visual : 7 tips for financial services trying to break through the RPA glass ceiling

When it comes to robotic process automation (RPA), few industries have embraced it like financial services.

Businesses in this sector deal with swathes of data and must constantly evolve to meet customers’ ever-ballooning expectations – all while remaining compliant with strict regulatory standards.

RPA has already proven itself incredibly beneficial to the financial services industry. It’s not uncommon for these digital “robots” to save enterprises thousands of labor hours by automating many of their mundane, repetitive and manually intensive tasks.

So it’s no surprise that a 2017 McKinsey study predicted that the second wave of RPA, due to emerge in ensuing years, would see automation swallow up to 25% of bank functions.

Yet, despite the software’s value being well established with business leaders, the machine revolution has yet to come to fruition. Currently, only 4% of organizations have more than 50 robots, meaning the vast majority aren’t taking full advantage of the transformative powers of automation.

This is often due to siloed automation initiatives that are difficult to scale and the ever-growing tensions between people and machines in the workplace.

So how can you shatter the automation glass ceiling to help your organization reap the benefits of automation? Here’s my top 7 seven tips on how to do just that!

  1. Identify your level of automation ambition

The first step is figuring out how ambitious you want your initiative to be. This will be your guiding light once you begin constructing an automation scale-out program, so it’s critical you get this right.

The easiest way to achieve this is to assess the percentage of your process landscape that’s suitable for automation within your enterprise. This data can then be extrapolating it into a custom financial model that will outline the high-level benefit of delivering on this ambition.

  1. Embed an automation-first strategy

When it comes to RPA, it starts from the top. This means leaders not only need to buy into an automation-first approach, but they must also embed the drivers for this change at all levels within the organization.

My recommendation would be to adjust budgets, and align goals and related compensation, to drive the desired outcome.

  1. Don’t try to get married on the first date

You really can’t overestimate the profound effect automation may have on your enterprise. So, instead of going in with an overly ambitious automation plan, it can be smart to approach it more tentatively.

A recommended approach would be to adopt agile phasing principles with low initial investments and rewards that increase in iterations, as the project scales and competency and confidence grows.

  1. Select the right a partner

The initial set up for an RPA project can be complex and confusing. There’s pressure for automation benefits to be realized quickly, creating a 12 to 24-month window and consequently, this requires sizeable delivery teams.

Most enterprises will struggle to deliver the desired outcome in this timeframe without help. So, it’s important you pick a partner that understands your business’ needs and can help guide you through the process.

  1. Automate then optimize

At first, automating your business processes can be daunting but try to avoid lengthy consultative-based engagements, as they can add significant costs to the endeavor.

Instead, attempt to transform your processes by opting for an automate-then-optimize strategy, leveraging Automated Business Process Discovery tools whenever possible.

  1. Create the correct automation operating model

Core components of the operating model should expand on the traditional CoE and have dedicated functions for Plan (CoE and Governance), Change (Automation Factory and Automation Academy) and Run (Robotics Operations Centre) activities. This will ensure automation is supported for scale.

  1. Manage the skills shift

As with previous industrial revolutions, enterprises will undergo massive skill shifts as labor with redundant skills profile are substituted with the new skills required. If not managed correctly, this could alienate your employee base and severely limit the effectiveness of the program, so it’s important to plan accordingly.

So, there you have it – your path through the automation glass ceiling. These seven tips were garnered from years of experience working with global financial brands, but RPA is constantly evolving and becomes more accessible every day.

Learn more about how to ready your financial services organization for a dynamic, automated future.