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How Finastra is optimising operations with intelligent automation

Global financial technology company Finastra is on a mission to streamline its operations by employing intelligent automation so it can do more – faster and easier than before. The London headquartered company delivers vitally important technology to financial institutions of all sizes across the globe, including 90 of the world’s top 100 banks. With over 10,000 employees and 8,500 customers, the company generates an amazing $1.9 billion in revenues.

Initiating operational transformation 

Finastra’s swift growth has been achieved through multiple acquisitions and a large merger recently, so it inherited a mix of widely differing IT infrastructure environments. This has presented difficulties for staff having to interoperate across disparate systems and conduct overly long processes. To address these challenges, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology was considered as an expediting solution due to its ability to automate a wide range of business processes across all systems.  

In late 2019, a specialist intelligent automation partner, Robiquity, was brought in to work with Finastra’s automation and operational effectiveness teams to help manage and build an in-house RPA capability across the business. Robiquity has a proven track record of providing the multi-skilled fully trained resources and delivery methodologies that ensure highly effective, structured, sustainable, value-generating RPA programmes.   

Joint activities involve creating a centralised RPA strategy aligned to Finastra’s business goals, and a range of activities that include; proving the business case to ensure funding, implementation methodologies, setting up and providing the resources to run a company RPA Centre of Excellence (CoE), and delivering on all governance that a regulated business requires. 

The underpinning technology is provided by Blue Prism’s connected-RPA platform that enables Finastra’s RPA-trained staff to run pre-built, ‘digital workers’ which automate business processes across the enterprise. With its proven security credentials, ease of system integration, ease of use and lower cost of scaling, Blue Prism was deemed the best choice vendor.

Next stage – scaling and sustaining RPA

Once RPA’s value was proved at a senior level, the emphasis has shifted to engaging with Finastra’s broader business and delivering successes through organised programme work. Finastra has high expectations of RPA and key success metrics have been identified that include more hours being generated back to the business, cost avoidance, greater revenue generation and reduction in process errors. 

Moving forward, phase one of Finastra’s RPA journey involves consolidating all operational knowledge and sharing this within an emerging CoE so it has a platform for automating more business processes – at greater scale. RPA will be hosted on-premises for data sovereignty regulations as required; with a cloud environment being leveraged for the enterprise solution. 

As Finastra operates in a highly regulated sector, it’s also important that RPA remains appropriately rooted. Therefore, a governance framework and robotic operating model centre of excellence (CoE) is being created to provide a structured and controlled environment for managing demand, delivery and sustainability of RPA projects. This framework will provide a structure for how changes are initiated, prioritised, approved, scheduled, how scoring outcomes are effectively communicated – and the definition, design, development and test of individual processes too.

Wendy Sherrock, VP Operational Effectiveness at Finastra said... 

“Going forward, we want to make our digital colleagues part of the business teams because it is them who know their processes best and ultimately, it's about the process and the impact. Specifically, we’re taking a focus on working smarter not harder and ensuring we are set up for scalability. We’re all a community of pioneers – learning every day on this journey and solving problems together. Automation will bring our teams closer and allow them to focus on value added work.” 

Phase 2 will involve building RPA capabilities to encompass a wider range of process automation across Finance, HR and other business divisions. To build RPA’s capabilities further and boost digital workers’ abilities so they manage more complex processes that involve analysis and decision-making, the use of machine learning and deep data analysis in tandem with RPA is also being examined.

Proving value

To demonstrate the potential of RPA to the wider business stakeholders, a proof of concept involved using a digital worker to automate two finance process that involved the ‘creation of a vendor bills payment report’ and ‘creation of bank files for vendor bill payments’. These were deemed ideal automation candidates – being high volume, high workload activities, with seasonal peaks, and potential for errors – which also contribute to staff pressure. Crucially, these processes were first analysed and then optimised before they were automated – to ensure maximum gains.

With the digital worker operating 24x7 and faster than its human counterpart, the results were compelling – with zero errors during the process and major productivity savings – reducing cycle times from hours to minutes in some cases.

Managing Change

In any major transformation initiative, managing staff anxiety effectively around change is critical to achieving successful outcomes.

Lenna Webster, IT Program Manager at Finastra explains...

“We faced two divergent reactions from staff about RPA – either genuine excitement or scepticism. Uncertainty regarding this technology is not helped by dramatized  media content predicting mass negative impacts. However, we anticipated that  a key success factor of RPA is good change management – so we’re focused on educating and training people to thrive in this new workplace of the future. We are confident that with Robiquity and Blue Prism we have a formula that will help us achieve our goals.”

In fact, Finastra’s CoE will create new opportunities for its people in RPA and help drive innovation across the business. To support this goal, they will be working with leaders establishing an internal university that will include training in RPA skills and other emerging technologies for any employee looking to participate on the journey. Overall, the company is looking forward to creating a culture of continual innovation and improvement that promises to deliver a bright future for all.