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Re-thinking Banking Business Processes

Updated: Sep 24, 2021

In the manufacturing industries, much has been written and there is a significant competence around Business Process Engineering (BPE), Process Workflow Automation and Robotics Process Automation (RPA). The lessons learned from improving factory floor processes were applied to back office business processes, resulting in significant savings, improved quality and customer satisfaction, and reduced risk.


Banks and other financial institutions can benefit significantly from BPE’s tools, techniques, and lessons learned. Streamlining and automating business processes can result in:


  • Lower expense ratios and operating cost


  • Improved customer satisfaction


  • Employee enablement to work from distributed locations


  • Faster delivery, better quality and consistency


  • Improved governance, visibility and regulatory compliance.


Banks Have Compelling Reasons to Engineer Business Processes


Banking business processes are complex and multifaceted. They often have complex regulatory compliance requirements and can be labor intensive. Data is often unavailable, exists in paper files, or on disconnected systems.


For instance:


  • As compliance processes have grown in complexity and staffing needs, understanding end-to-end processes and how to make them more efficient is key to keeping costs down and compliance quality high.


  • COVID-19 has shown the need to securely manage processes from anywhere, with electronic access to documents and visibility over process throughout.


  • Innovative technologies in business process automation and robotic process automation are being increasingly adopted by other financial institutions, giving them an edge in reducing operational cost and increasing customer satisfaction.


  • Larger firms, such as Rocket Mortgage, have invested significantly in mortgage loan straight through process design. Their business model is based on an engineered mortgage fulfillment process. This has led to a high degree of customer satisfaction and growth in the business.


What is Business Process Engineering (BPE)


What is Business process engineering (BPE)? BPE is the study of business processes so that they can be improved and streamlined for optimizing in terms of both performance and efficiency.


Why does your firm need a BPE program? The obvious reason is without it employees don’t know what to do and therefore will improvise. Your goal is to ensure that you create business processes that are executed consistently and contribute to your organization’s overall goals in every detail. Following the BPE cycle is mandatory.




The Business Process Engineering Process


First, we identify the firm’s key business processes. We then prioritize the processes that will give the most low hanging fruit. Using a visual tool to document this will aid in future steps. Next, we analyze the as-is process. In this step it is critical we identify non-value-added tasks, process hand-offs & bottlenecks, as well as how the process is monitored and controlled. Thirdly we design the optimized To-Be process, preferably with participation from key stakeholders or at minimum a review and approval by stakeholders. Then lastly, test, refine and implement the new To-Be process.


Technology’s Role


Can you develop and document business processes without a technology solution? Yes, but technology is becoming vital to understanding how to make processes more efficient. In the past most companies’ approach to process engineering was to start with a process flow chart, then document all the information needed to execute the process in a word processing tool like MS Word. This tends to be a less efficient solution that does not lend itself well to updating let alone to be used by employees. The output of these solutions tended to end up on a dusty bookshelf.


So how does technology fit in to a BPE program? Like with most environments, technology is an enabler. It will enable you to create, monitor and improve your business processes.


Today, there are solutions that document processes to the individual task level, that also makes it more suitable to develop automated tasks augmented with AI analytics. They also reduce cost of training employees and allow for more real time updating.


Here are five key elements to achieve for robust BPE.


1. Develop one solution where processes are searchable, up-to-date, and engaging


2. Acquire/create a tool anyone can use in a matter of minutes


3. Any solution must easily provide data to improve processes


4. Must be executable through simplified roll outs of any change


5. Enable sharing of data securely.


If utilization of the tools is complex, failure is on the horizon. Any solutions must be built from a user view. Ideally the solution would be part of the process to really enable all the above.


How does BPE fit into digital transformation?


With digital transformation comes new ways to do tasks. Some tasks may be eliminated, some may be automated. This will impact what human task need to be executed and how. Can we consolidate some tasks? Is self-service better facilitated?


Automating business processes is a steppingstone to digital transformation in that it gets people into the cultural mindset of continuous transformation. Employees get more clarity and gain insights about the process as is and as it should ideally be. Automation will streamline a process and make it easier to eliminate wasteful activities and focus on enhancing tasks that add value. A huge benefit for financial institutions with business process automation (BPA) is the recording of every detail of a process which can be presented to evidence compliance in an audit. You also get consistent standardized process execution and outcomes. This in turn will improve customer satisfaction and the bottom line.


Another approach to automation is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA emulates human execution of repeatable processes with existing applications. Benefits of RPA are similar to those of BPA however is easier to implement as it uses existing user interfaces. RPA reduces labors cost and allows the organization to focus labor on more value-added activity.

Regardless, we need to start with data. What does the data say about our processes? How broken are they? Are process failures the result of a single root cause or many? Looking at reliable data will aid the scoping of an initiative.


When it comes to design, some may say start with a clean slate. If we are designing an all-new process, that may be all we have to start with. Frankly, a clean start is an easier path. However, if we are redesigning existing processes, we need to look to the data to identify the scope of change. Process issues may not be the result of the specific process but perhaps an upstream process. Don’t be afraid to start from scratch as often it may help your creative gene to not have borders.


We should also assess a process relative to the value added. That is, before automation, ask if this task should be eliminated. Automating bad processes does not lend itself to meeting the organizations mission.


FinResults can help you achieve robust process management to compliment your digital transformation. Let’s set up a brief meeting to discuss how to get started – we can be reached at info@finresults.com or call us at (561) 288-6548.



About the Author:


Dave Prevost is a Principal at FinResults responsible for Business Process Engineering, Automation and Robotics. Dave has extensive experience leading process re-engineering, automation and robotics initiatives at large companies. He has implemented extensive shared services operations and has a strong track record of success in getting cost and time out of business processes. He can be reached at dave.prevost@finresults.com





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