Your bank probably isn’t packed with technologists.
Contrary to a lot of media noise, that’s okay — really.
This stereotyped hinderance doesn't have to stop banks from efficiently evolving their technology strategies: Misalignment of strategic priorities, communication issues, and contentment with status quo does. In an earlier blog post JP Nicols wrote, “Innovation is implementing new ideas that add value.” Nowhere is it mentioned that innovation must be done in accordance with the titles that come up with those ideas.
One Alloy Labs Alliance member bank’s recent involvement in robotic process automation (RPA) is a living testament to the above notion. Over the course of a few years, this bank, armed with curiosity and a host of ideas, transformed themselves from technology end-users to digital explorers; from bystanders to game changers.
The bank led the August meeting of our Automation & AI Center of Excellence (monthly workgroups across banking topics that co-create standards and best practices to drive tangible outcomes) to discuss how they were able to stand up their own internal RPA program. Their story doesn’t begin with a rare talent find or an inciting incident, but rather a unanimously felt need to scale their operations and grow faster than their cost structure.
The bank was finishing a general operations consulting arrangement when it was suggested that they investigate automation workflows to help solve some of their more general and manual processes. The firm built a few bots as a proof of concept, and the bank was even more intrigued. More bots followed. Then, parallel to that second engagement, the bank decided to create its own RPA program.
The right time to stand up a new technology or solution is when the problem is identified. Waiting months, or even years, to begin vetting solutions can have major implications to a bank’s business and, even more importantly, its customers. By acting immediately upon the RPA development, the bank was able to create value for its employees and customers in the time it would take most banks to conduct its due diligence.
These actions embody two of Alloy Labs’ founding principles: action above talk and exploration before execution.
“We’re on a path to excellence,” the bank told the group. “We’re moving fast and learning a lot each day.”
The bank has developed bots to handle stop pays, communication with customers, appraisals, user provisioning, deposit ops, and more. Its exploration into commercial pricing had such a large impact on the bank’s commercial team that they bought software to continue the work the bot started.
Here are three best practices from the discussion that stood out to the Alloy Labs team:
1. Have the right scoping partner. You're looking for someone with decisioning power, but with enough detailed knowledge at the keystroke level. CFOs and COOs were both mentioned as being relevant sponsors of the bank’s program.
2. Implement a strong software development process. RPA isn’t like traditional software development. In the latter, you often have time to work through backlogged mistakes or even work ahead. RPA developers can’t miss certain details in initial scoping sessions, or else it can cause cascading impacts to deadlines and final products. Make sure your processes and frameworks are tight and secure.
3. Reevaluate regularly. RPA moves fast — extremely. An idea that’s not viable today may be feasible in three months. On the flip side, any idea you sit on may not be compatible with your technology later on down the road. The bank warned: “Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping your tech stack as up to date as possible.”
The Alloy Labs Alliance is made up of banks who are committed to actively collaborating and co-creating as members of our community. If your bank is involved in RPA development, reach out to get involved.