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An interview with Olavi Lepp, COO at Swedbank AS
We bring you an interview with Olavi Lepp, COO at Swedbank AS, who will speak at one of our longest running events, the 14th Annual Banking Operations Forum.
• What is the most important thing to keep in mind when implementing RPA?
It is important to identify the right processes in order to succeed. Most suitable processes are the ones with standardized execution and with high repetition of process steps. One should also avoid processes where human expertise or judgement is needed. In order to have a good business case, one should start with the processes with high FTE count.
• How is RPA superior to traditional automation and are there any downsides to it when comparing the two?
RPA is more business-driven, agile and can be implemented within 3-4 months. Adding new processes will require 4-8 weeks of work with the business-side resources. ROI is normally under one year. There is also no traditional integration work needed, making the implementation much cheaper.
A potential downside is that RPA will not reach the speed needed for some processes where true automation will be needed. RPA could be considered a tactical solution in order to reach efficiency gains in the short term, while traditional automation is a more strategic solution with long-term gains and business case.
I recommend applying both approaches in combination. A target architectural state needs to be described in order to do this.
• Are there any specifics to RPA implementation in banking, compared to other fields?
I don’t think so. Traditional banks just tend to have more legacy platforms with a scattered application landscape where employees are often needed in order to make end-to-end processes work across these applications. This makes the business case for RPA more attractive. Otherwise, it should look more or less the same as in any other field.
Banks usually have more serious security protocols, but so far RPA has met all the pre-conditions we have had.
• What positions can be replaced by RPA right now and how do you see it changing in future? How high can it go?
It’s usually people working in the operational back offices. You can find such positions in lending, payments, cards and finance. These are positions with relatively low job grades and high task repetition rate. We are just at the beginning of the journey, so we still have a lot of potential here. In the future, one could also think about business development tasks where some routines like testing can be supported by RPA.
As long as RPA is a rule-based solution, it cannot replace humans in the positions where creative thinking and conclusions are needed.
• In what ways has RPA managed to reduce the cost of operation in your company? What steps have you had to take?
RPA is a tool to reduce administrative staff cost. Instead, one will have RPA license cost and also the cost for the administration of the RPA scripts by experts. This means that more administrative and routine work will be replaced by more interesting work where people need to “train” RPA software to execute the process steps. This has made the job more fun for people who are now engaged with RPA.
Our main steps have been as follows:
1. Understand the RPA opportunities – we used support of external consultants here.
2. Run a pilot project to test RPA for one process as proof of concept.
3. Purchase licenses and install the software in production. Create user IDs for RPA.
4. Train a team of experts to take care of RPA internally.
5. Start implementing RPA in more and more processes.
Find out more from Olavi Lepp at the
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