B.S Webinar Q&A

Webinar Q&A: How Intelligent Automation can remove Digital Disadvantage from Building Societies

Our webinar “How Intelligent Automation can remove the digital disadvantage from Building Societies” went live on the 22nd of February and was a great success, opening up the conversation around how Intelligent Automation can benefit Building Societies across the UK, large and small.

We received an overwhelming response from the audience, with over 100 executives from over 30 Building Societies registering to attend and participate on the day. Our Building Society transformation experts have answered the questions submitted during the live event, covering a wide range of topics related to Intelligent Automation and its applications across the Building Society industry.

During the webinar, attendees had the opportunity to learn from leading Building Society experts and technology innovators Kevin Mowles (Building Society Business Transformation Consultant), Keith Woof (Head of Automation, Leeds Building Society), Iain Lister (IT & Change Executive, Mansfield Building Society) and Jack Lavington (RPA Manager, Monmouthshire Building Society) about the value Intelligent Automation can deliver across tedious, repetitive and time-consuming manual tasks and processes. Demonstrating how Intelligent Automation can be leveraged to optimise customer and employee experience, streamline operations and work execution, and improve process efficiency and speed from start to finish across the organisation, all while reducing costs, tasks prone to human error and work backlog.

The webinar especially highlighted how Intelligent Automation can enhance customer experience, from enquiry handling to reducing AHT (Average Handling Time) to delivering a more personalised customer journey.

Overall, the webinar provided valuable insights into how Building Societies can overcome digital disadvantages in a competitive market and adopt an efficient, reliable, and robust technology stack that will help them to maintain their position as trusted financial institutions in their communities. We are grateful to our expert panelists and attendees for making this a popular and insightful event.

Can you give us the best practical advice for starting our Automation journey and how we can avoid any complications?

If you’re starting on your automation journey, we recommend taking a practical approach that combines the following steps:

  1. Clarify your goals and seek consensus among key stakeholders: Start by understanding your goals and involve business, technical, and subject matter experts. This will help you avoid any misunderstandings or disagreements down the line.
  2. Choose a service with low commitment and cost: Avoid services that require long-term commitments or high spending, as these can put undue pressure on your team and lead to fear of failure. Instead, opt for services that allow you to learn at your own pace and experiment without breaking the bank.
  3. Tap into the expertise of others: Be bold and ask for help or advice from other experts in the field. We’ve provided a network of resources to help you learn from others’ mistakes and avoid complications.

How long, on average, does it take to see the benefits and value of our automated processes? How long does it take, on average, to get a process up and running?

This is a real ‘piece of string’ question, so circumventing all the ifs, buts, and maybes here is as solid an answer as we can offer: To define, deliver, test and enable a medium-value process, we would recommend 8-12 weeks of effort. We typically expect such a process to be of >2FTE value, so if we agree that the Annual Benefit of such a process will be ~£80,000 and the cost of delivery will be ~£40,000, the ROI will be around six months of run-time.

How do I identify the processes that will offer the best ROI, and where can I find the best advice on how to get started?

If you’re solely interested in return on investment (ROI), focusing on automating high-volume processes with low variation is recommended. However, automating processes can be more complex than it may seem. Some processes can seem straightforward to automate but are not, and some processes will be helpful but just for a limited period. Our advice here is to see Automation as one of the tools of digitisation but by no means the only tool! As such, using the tool’s strengths is important according to the available process challenges. Automation is relatively quick to build and change, requiring limited development knowledge. So making a savings-product-based automation with great flexibility for future change embedded can be a significant investment of time and effort, even if the initial ROI is negligible. Working with an expert practitioner can help you adopt this mindset and better understand the process.

How do you identify the correct solution for the business? Is RPA a sticky plaster, and will we create technical debt?

Great question! The irony of introducing a new technology tool to reduce IT debt is not wasted on us! Our Service is Cloud-based (Intelligent Automation as a Service), and this seems a sensible approach to take. Finding a solution with a mature Service and run Management capability is also suitable because many UK Building Societies already have stretched IT Organisations. If you choose the right partner, you can embed proper support service level agreements (SLAs) in your deployed solution. Bringing your IT Organisation along for the journey is crucial. Involving them in the decision-making process will lead to a more successful outcome.

What key roles are needed for a successful automation project, and will it require much of the team’s time? Additionally, what are the options for outsourcing the building, implementing, and managing of automated processes if a company needs to set up its automation team?

To minimise the impact on your team’s time, we recommend involving key individuals such as an executive sponsor who can provide a big-picture perspective, a functional sponsor who can make the project happen; IT support to ensure success and a subject matter expert with intimate knowledge of the process being automated. Although finding a suitable subject matter expert may take some time, it is essential for the project’s success.

If setting up an automation team is not feasible, outsourcing the project can be a viable option. This approach is becoming increasingly popular in the current market as it reduces the costs and risks of setting up a Centre of Excellence (CoE). As long as you secure the necessary support for the abovementioned roles, you can outsource the project delivery and offset some of the risks in the contract. Doing so benefits you from an expert delivery that is shorter in delivery time and mitigates some project risk. Overall, outsourcing is a sensible approach.

How often should we review and look at ways to improve our automated processes? Who owns the automated process?

That’s a great question! The technology used in building a process can ensure that automations are balanced and prone to multiple fixes. Certainly, some of the skills of Automation is to deliver a low error or exception rate. Often automations designed with just one to two years duration in mind (“While we wait for the Enterprise Migration to absorb it”) are running five years later! As a general rule of thumb, a process review should take place within years one and two – and this process review may also consider additional functionality or change of requirements.

Can we scale our automation bots up and down in line with peaks in demand? 

Yes, our contracts allow you to go from many robots’ demand one month to zero the next. Please note that this is not typically the motivator when working with software vendors directly; their Shareholder promise is usually committed volume over multiple years of contracts.

We have already started using RPA but have hit roadblocks; how can we overcome this and find the ROI we were initially sold on?

This is a specialist area for Digital Workforce; we perform many ‘second surgery’ engagements. Like most things, it starts with an honest appraisal of the gap between the business case and reality and then identifying the root cause of delivery gaps. We would then focus on quick wins with extremely conservative RoI’s to rebuild confidence and engage the confidence cycle.

Can we use a blend of IA and AI tools to build a tailored solution that fits our purpose?

Yes, but you would be an outlier in this conservative sector. There are numerous automation opportunities available that can provide suitable foundational delivery of transformational technology solutions. Therefore, there’s no need to overreach by jumping straight into AI. We are taking a slightly different approach to the question, ‘Where do you take Automation from here?’. We aim to follow individual task automations and human interactions within longer and more meaningful customer journeys through your organization, such as the savings or mortgage journey. Within these journeys, there may be several processes worth automating, but an astonishing value (~70% of the entire Mortgage Process) could be orchestrated through several tools. This would rapidly improve the Customer experience while enabling volumes of Actionable Data. Keep an eye out for our future webinar on this topic!

Will Automation be compatible with our various tools and systems?

Yes, and we say this with the confidence of connecting to Green-screen Arabic banking applications.

What, if any, is the impact on our data security?

No data needs to leave your environment – but for reassurance purposes, look for an organisation that is ISO27001 certified and welcomes engagement with your information governance (IG) team.

What is the best deployment of intelligent Automation you have seen?

At Digital Workforce, we work a lot with healthcare, and some of the work in Cancer diagnosis and ‘rest of life’ monitoring is inspirational. Everyone knows someone going through the scenario (or has done themselves), and you can quickly recognise how technology, used in the right way through this process, improves patients’ outcomes and peace of mind. You also see time and money pouring back into the health service as a result.

How impactful has process automation been to your business, and how do you see it being utilised in the future? 

We use robots for sanction checking and onboarding prospects, partners, and Customers. If we used humans, we would take much longer to do less work accurately. Instead, we can deeply qualify whom we work with, which saves a great deal of long-term pain. Understanding how to ‘do different things’ with Automation, rather than ‘the same things more quickly,’ is a real turning point. The technology has been attached to the forefront of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ by Lassity and Wilcox – and we do not believe this to be an underestimation.

How much education at an executive/board level was needed so leaders bought into the idea of RPA?

Massive variation in this area. For those in the early stages, we recommend this YouTube clip we made. Also, workshops with younger members of your Societies can encourage a sharing of modern understanding with those trying to solve traditional business challenges.

When establishing RPA teams, did you recruit existing staff from within the business or externally recruit specialist resources? Which would you say is most effective?

Recruit externally (or through a service partner) to go fast; recruit from within to go the longer distance. Culturally, internal recruits are aligned, have just been given a superpower to solve problems, and can be great advocates. A combination of these sources of expertise can co-exist, of course.

Does the maturity of the RPA approach at an organisation affect whether the business can approach process automation before task automation? Is it possible to look at process automation at the start of an RPA journey?

That’s a great question! As with Task Automation 7-8 years ago, Automation Fabric (or E2E Automation) does not discriminate between organisations with more or less mature estates. There is a trend that those organisations with mature Automation initiatives are further ahead than many others, but that is often because they have more forward-looking approaches to business change. If you are in an organisation with creaking systems, you can start the journey quickly and have a good volume of quick wins to offer for your efforts.


Curious to know more? Please don’t hesitate to contact our UK experts by sending an email to Harriet Thomas-Bailey!

About Digital Workforce Services

Digital Workforce Services Plc is the leading business automation platform and service provider globally. Digital Workforce Outsmart platform allows organisations to accelerate digitalisation, increase revenue, improve customer experience and gain competitive advantage. Globally, over 200 large customers use Digital Workforce’s platform and services to transform their businesses with automation. Founded in 2015, Digital Workforce currently employs over 200 business automation specialists in the US, the UK, Ireland, Poland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Digital Workforce is publicly listed in Nasdaq First North Growth Market Finland.


Who can offer advice?

Automation solutions are the most effective approach to revolutionising credit unions and while there are challenges to implementing automation, the benefits are clear. They should explore automation solutions to improve services, differentiate themselves from competitors, and maintain their position as trusted financial institutions in their communities.

Building Societies should seek advice from experts when looking to implement process automation to ensure a seamless transition and guarantee the proper steps have been taken. Experts can provide guidance on selecting the correct technology, mitigating risks, ensuring compliance with regulations, streamline the implementation of automation, and optimise the service to achieve maximum impact and benefit.

Digital Workforce is a global automation specialist working with several financial institutions, including banks and building societies, to automate repetitive and tedious tasks. We help streamline operations, and work execution and improve both customer and staff experience by delivering task-based and end-to-end automation solutions across loan origination and underwriting, opening accounts and onboarding, monitoring compliance and reporting, customer service and support, document management, data migration and more. With our expertise and experience, we help organisations develop a comprehensive automation strategy, implement automation solutions, and provide training and support to ensure the successful delivery and adoption of automation.