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Digital transformation has introduced a new dimension of competition and an efficiency-driven economy. The manual processing of large voluminous data is error-prone and time-consuming activity that negatively impacts an organization’s revenue streams, reputation, and quality. To remain relevant in a saturated market, banks are using technology to deliver the best possible user experience. Internally, banks have focused on improving process efficiency while significantly reducing operating costs.

The new-age banking processes demand a reliable system that provides:

  • Ease of implementation,
  • Better compliance adherence,
  • Reduced cost of production, and
  • Increased productivity.

To meet the demands of new-age banking, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has grown to become a powerful and effective tool. According to P&S Market Research, the global RPA market is projected to reach $8.6 billion by 2023. It has helped streamline and reduce manual work by automating back-office processes that are repetitive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. Most organizations are implementing RPA tools in their quality assurance (QA) or software testing activities, service virtualization, and test data management.

The wedding of software testing and RPA is helping the banking domain attain new levels of efficiency and productivity across all digital transformation endeavors. These software robots serve as a virtual workforce for all backend operations and critical business processes. For example, Deutsche Bank is deploying RPA to efficiently manage repetitive tasks. In areas of implementation, the bank has reported 30% to 70% automation with a noted decrease in employee training times.

Having evolved from testing tools that mimic user interactions, RPA bots are developed using agile methodology for faster delivery. For example, ABB’s dual-armed collaborative robot, Yumi, automates ATM testing for more reliable banking. Yumi performs hours of testing to support the development of software for ATMs, improving reliability and quality.

Why is the banking industry moving towards RPA?

Software testing is a crucial part of banking applications; its complexity and cost increases as we go up the testing pyramid (Fig.1). With digital transformation, customer servicing digital channels have gone up. Yet, the banking industry is lagging in test automation. This is attributed to the complexity of the baking technology landscape, irreplaceable legacy backend applications, long transaction lifecycles (for example, revolving credit), and evolving regulatory requirements. Under these conditions, manual testing fails to cover the agility, accuracy, and end-to-end testing (E2E) requirements of banks. According to a report by PwC, 21 percent of defects are not identified until after the software goes live.

End-to-end testing (E2E) or business process testing automation is the goal for any organization to reduce the burden of manual user testing. But E2E testing requires testing of multiple applications developed using different technologies for which existing test execution tools (e.g. Selenium) do not work.

Benefits of RPA testing:

RPA is not just a testing tool but a platform-independent solution that works across systems.

  • Code-neutral: almost zero coding makes automation as simple as creating process flowcharts.
  • Eliminates complex systems: as it is process agnostic, it has a lesser dependency on the architecture of the system under test.
  • Design time to Testing: shortened timelines for conducting feasibility studies and test designing with easy to draw flowcharts and script building.
  • Test execution: simple scheduling and Script Triggers are enough to deploy across various systems and devices.
  • Control: a single point of control can be established for processes & virtual workers, clear exceptions handling, and schedule/prioritize unit tests.

Drivers for RPA

RPA tools are developed to automate specific tasks by mapping a process for the software bots to follow. The tools resolve data silos by structuring components of custom APIs, business processes, and their integrations.

RPA provides a powerful tool for testers and business users as it allows for codeless automation macros on any desktop. Through a control dashboard, users can create logic scripts (If-Then-Else) on structured data by either connecting to APIs or a combination of UI interactions. The hybrid approach of combining RPA and testing is helping testers save time by helping banks set up unit tests, automating common test scenarios with RPA and ensuring testing every version for bugs/errors.

Apart from reducing operational costs, RPA in testing is lowering error rates, increasing scalability, and greatly improving software quality. For example, UiPath software automates daily P&L preparation for financial services companies. Its RPA implementation reports a 100 percent accuracy rate in report generation and a reduction in handling time from 60 to 20 minutes.

As banks continue to strive for operational efficiency and accuracy, RPA is enabling financial institutions to achieve their efficiency goals, while also delivering exceptional client experience at lower costs. Powered by emerging technologies of artificial intelligence and machine learning, RPA is the new face of enterprise automation and testing. The future lies with artificial intelligence to autonomously analyze data and present solutions.

About the author

Somasundaram Jambunathan

Vice President, Maveric Systems

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