Fast, good and cheap — you can only have two out of the three, the old business adage goes. Well, at the high-stakes intersection of banking and technology, we have a news flash for you: operations managers can have it all with robotic process automation. From highly complex tasks to the plain and mundane, RPA fast tracks costly manual processes – saving both time and money – to elevate a bank’s performance.

RPA and IP (items processing) go together like two peas in a pod, you might say — a perfect processing marriage. For their daily IP, banks typically have an employee arriving at 6 o’clock every morning to go to the Fed Line (or via correspondent bank) and prepare transaction and incoming wire reports. Operations managers know that a lot of things have to take place before the rest of the bank’s staff shows up for the workday. This complex aspect of a bank’s IP is critical because of the transactional base and the regulatory demands (e.g., ACH/direct deposit transactions posting deadlines). Using RPA for IP with regard to the Fed line, correspondent banking accounts and data gathering saves time and the early wake-up call.

Bankers can also use RPA for any type of systems maintenance task. A prime example is when officers leave or reestablish loan portfolios. The operations team will need to reassign accounts to a different officer or responsibility code. This mundane but mandatory operations task moves automatically with RPA.

For debit card data breaches, banks must do “hot carding” or card disabling to eliminate the possibility of fraudulent use. Bringing up each customer’s record, inputting a deactivation code and performing a card reissue is a massive manual (and menial) task, but with RPA tools, banks can automate the entire process.

Numbers Game

Operations managers at banks implementing RPA software can expect a minimum of a 90-day ROI. That bears repeating (and sharing with the boss): you can recoup the cost of your tech investment in one business quarter.

Take, for example, the debit card data breach issue. With a bank’s human resources keying in the data, let’s say it requires 100 hours at $16 an hour ($10 plus benefits). The total of $1,600 would be only the hard cost. What would that employee accomplish over those 100 hours when freed up by RPA software?

In late 2013 when as many as 70 million Target credit and debit cards were compromised, RPA-enabled card reissue at a rate of six per minute and updated and noted 10 accounts per minute. Automation of the massive data breach recovery saved the bank thousands of dollars in outsourcing, an impressive “return on innovation.”

Banking vendors that provide mass data maintenance programs may charge per use versus the one-time fee of an RPA tool, which is viable for multiple operations. One prospective customer recently built two data automation scripts using RPA, saving her banking department hundreds of hours per month over the old manual process.

Primarily a screen-scraping tool 20 years ago, RPA has evolved with greater logic, security and applicability. Your banking operations will evolve, too. Fast, good and cheap — this robot’s got a lot.