Financial institutions (FIs) face several challenges that have expanded during the pandemic. For starters, consumers are demanding a better digital banking experience, leaving credit unions and banks under mounting pressure to expedite digitization and digital innovation. According to Forrester’s 2022 State of Digital Banking Report, 25% of decision-makers at banks say that their company’s technology strategy is among the biggest challenges in achieving digital transformation. Furthermore, 25% also said their employees do not have the time to focus on digital transformation execution.
The “Great Resignation” has compounded matters as 4.5 million workers left their jobs in November 2021 alone, many of whom were overburdened IT professionals leaving to pursue a post-pandemic fresh start. Adding insult to injury, a survey published by TalentLMS indicates that the tightening labor market will not dissipate any time soon, with 72% of polled IT workers considering quitting their jobs in 2022.
While FIs have long struggled to recruit and retain IT talent, COVID-19 enhanced the need for advanced tech skills as business processes grew more reliant upon digitization to meet remote work needs and virtual customer interactions. These intersectional factors have significantly widened talent gaps in many credit unions’ IT teams, leaving the remaining staff responsible for the fallout and consumers forced to decide which financial institution best serves their needs.
Additionally, as digital innovation often requires a wholesale transformation of core processes, FIs rely heavily on IT staff to move initiatives forward with new products, integrations, and services to meet consumer demands and expectations. Not an easy feat with resources stretched thin, workloads exceeding pre-2020 heights, and employees jumping ship at a record pace leaving FIs burdened with attracting new talent in a narrowing job market.
Many FIs are turning to traditional approaches to attract and retain talent, such as increased pay and benefits and flexibility with when and where workers can complete the job. However, this may not be enough as qualified IT professionals feel repelled by the operational framework of many credit unions and banks. For instance, tasking IT staff to perform monotonous, low-value tasks throughout the workday is unsustainable for both the worker and the workload. Manual workloads often lead to inefficiencies, increased potential for human error, decreased job satisfaction, and reduced time spent innovating improving the customer experience.
Reducing the Burden on IT
To overcome today’s workforce challenges and shortages, many FIs are turning to workload automation (WLA) to reduce the burden on IT. Unlike traditional job schedulers limited in functionality, modern-day WLA solutions provide operational control over the most complex IT environments and quickly scale as business needs grow.
Automation assists in scheduling and executing business-critical, repetitive, and scalable operations, saving time, cutting costs, reducing risks, and driving the business forward. Use case has shown that small businesses can save up to 18 person-hours per day and nearly $200 thousand every year by eliminating errors and the need to manually audit for them. For FIs, this begins with automating core processes such as deposit, loan, and credit processing. As workloads increase and needs evolve, resilient automation software empowers non-technical business users to experience the benefits of automation through self-service workflows, allowing IT staff to focus on high-value initiatives.
This remarkable, under-the-radar technology empowers financial institutions to scale the benefit of automation well beyond traditional core processing to broader IT and business applications. Leading solutions seamlessly orchestrate workloads across siloed technologies from legacy systems to cloud, virtualization, and IoT on a single, integrated platform. Additionally, robust features like self-service functionality empower non-technical business users to trigger automated processes, reports, and other tasks with a click of a button, further reducing the burden on IT staff.
While the possibilities for automation are virtually endless, common areas where credit unions are deploying WLA to free up IT resources include:
- Lights-Out Processing: Workload automation and orchestration enable FIs to automatically process manual transactions from ACH to mortgage servicing to online and mobile banking payments, eliminating manual processing and 24/7 operations staff.
- ETL and Data Warehouse Automation: With WLA, CUs can easily automate ETL (Extract/Transform/Load) processes in a repeatable way to streamline data warehouses and provide IT with a single dashboard for automating and managing critical data processes.
- Loan Processing and Servicing: Automated loan processing and servicing platforms eliminate manual processes and improve overall quality, helping deliver excellent service and get customers their money quicker.
- Improved security and compliance:Automation enables CUs to efficiently manage security privileges across an organization and create an audit trail by logging all actions to satisfy compliance requirements.
- Document Imaging and Storage: FIs can leverage imaging and storage technology to automate how documents such as reports, image loads, and check images are captured and stored, reducing the need for manual sorting and the risk of misplacement.
- Enhanced Business Continuity: Enable self-healing routines to keep operations running during the unplanned application or system interruptions.
When WLA frees staff from monotonous tasks, business leaders can reallocate employees to focus on other initiatives such as innovating to meet evolved member and client expectations. As a result, IT personnel can shoulder more responsibility and contribute to the organization’s growth, further promoting a digital transformation strategy that adds immense value. By empowering your IT staff’s professional development, you help them realize the value they bring to the organization, enticing them not to seek employment elsewhere.
Deploying automation is not about replacing people with software or a machine; it’s about eliminating the busy, administrative work that consumes employees’ time and real value. Doing so improves your team’s morale, increasing employee retention while attracting new candidates who have the drive to contribute to innovation – adding a competitive edge when hiring. Reducing human intervention also lowers the odds that errors will occur, a pervasive issue when handling data loads manually.
With the way the job market is positioned currently, it’s a sure fact that FIs will experience turnover to some extent. WLA can assist in documenting essential processes, reducing the loss of institutional knowledge when employees clock out for the last time. Keeping a repository of business-critical operations will be extremely helpful in onboarding new hires. The reduced need for advanced coding and scripting skills will also bolster your FI’s recruiting ability. Filling vacant positions faster lowers the opportunity costs of the time and resources your organization will need to recruit and hire.
It’s Time to Automate
Like all employers, financial institutions are knee-deep in the Great Resignation, and it’s not looking like the current will wane anytime soon. Workload automation and orchestration bring opportunities to retain critical and valued employees, recruit new talent, and keep pace with evolving consumer expectations. Instead of operating reactively, FIs will need to maintain a proactive and strategic approach to overcome the talent challenges. By utilizing the power and scalability of modern workload automation and orchestration, FIs can take control of operations and transform into the powerhouse customers expect and deserve.
Todd Dauchy is CEO of SMA Technologies. He started his career with SMA as Chief Technology Officer in 2012 and was promoted to President in 2018. Prior to joining the company, Dauchy was a client of SMA working for a large credit union.