Banca Progetto, a digital bank controlled by BPL Holdco S.à.r.l.—an investment vehicle owned by Oaktree Capital Management—and led by Paolo Fiorentino, was born at a time of profound transformation of the Italian banking sector with the aim of quickly becoming one of the most important operators in the household and corporate credit market.
With offices in Milan and Rome and a sales network spread throughout Italy, Banca Progetto specializes in services for small and medium-sized Italian enterprises (SMEs) and retail customers. It targets private individuals with savings products such as deposit accounts, salary-backed loans for pensioners and employees in the private and public sectors and SMEs with medium to long term loans as well as factoring.
Banca Progetto's vision for growth has always revolved around a flexible operational structure, using technology, including RPA, to drive business progression. Their model aimed for round-the-clock operations to manage vast transaction volumes. Moreover, they integrated automation in a manner that provided flexible operational costs, which guaranteed the bank's ability to scale operations efficiently based on real-time requirements.
A particular business challenge—sudden, high-volume account renewals—marked the beginning of their automation journey. Despite the initial hiccups, they rapidly transitioned their solution into production, thereby achieving their targeted outcomes. With RPA, not only did they manage to renew 400 to 500 accounts daily within a month, adhering to strict contract stipulations, but they also safeguarded themselves against potential contractual breaches.
This positive initial experience with automation catalyzed a paradigm shift among their internal staff. Initial fears about automation replacing jobs gave way to enthusiasm. Employees soon began identifying processes that could benefit from automation, leading to a synergistic relationship between the management and frontline staff, both of whom realized the transformative power of automation.
Their transition to UiPath was propelled by UiPath strength in integrability, which became a game-changer. “UiPath ability to interface with both modern API-driven systems and legacy systems was pivotal and collaborating with S2E, we delved into how best to leverage this technology, keeping our objectives at the forefront. So, we started by automating processes related to account management, financial flows, investments, and integration with our financial intermediary partners.”, says Cosimo Papagna—Digital Operations & Bank Innovation—Banca Progetto S.p.a.
Their center of excellence (CoE) approach was established, combining a diverse range of skills and roles. While Banca Progetto managed the business and process components, S2E brought in technological expertise. This partnership facilitated the establishment of a robust competency center, which witnessed exponential growth over time.
I still remember one of my first meetings about automation at Banca Progetto, where the COO said that our objective is to be a Great bank, not just a bank that is large. RPA has done more than any other technology to make this a reality.
Cosimo Papagna • Digital Operations & Bank Innovation
Banca Progetto's identity as a digital bank began right from the beginning, making them one of Italy's first digital banks to employ RPA effectively. This benefited the bank in unexpected ways, as the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digitization trends across the banking industry. Banca Progetto was already ahead, having adopted RPA. This prior commitment to digital transformation allowed them to maintain operations during challenging times, leveraging a hybrid work model.
Their forward-thinking adoption of automation came to the fore during a surge in account openings in 2023 because of macro-economic changes that drove consumer interest in the bank’s products. Despite the substantial increase in demand, they adapted swiftly and managed to handle the increased demand with no major problems.
Currently, Banca Progetto operates with 30 active robots, managing an average of 1,000 daily tasks across various processes. While high-volume processes can be automated with relative ease, the true distinction lies in the outcome of the automation. The average handling time for automated tasks was reduced between 68% and 70%. This efficiency led to improved customer satisfaction due to quicker task completion and process delivery. Importantly, there was a significant reduction in errors.
“I see a marked enthusiasm among our workforce. Team members, now freed from bulk repetitive tasks, begin their days focusing on more essential duties. They can create robotic automations that work overnight, handling most of their repetitive work, so that when they get into the office, they just need to manage exceptions etc., instead of being faced with a mountain of work at 8.00am!”
In another instance, RPA helped the bank handle many of its audit requirements. The bank had already automated a significant part of its operations, but the audit segment remained manual. Historically, they manually reviewed around 10% of paper documentation based on the Know Your Customer (KYC) processes, which involved customer identification documents and contracts. However, this wasn't enough to meet the regulatory standards for auditing their operations.
Presented with this challenge, they deployed Document Understanding combined with the AI Center and Action Center. The goal shifted from analyzing a mere 10% of the documents to a full 100%, encompassing the entirety of their operations. The initial tests were complex, achieving matches of around 20% to 40%. However, as the team applied the forced learning approach of the Action Center, they worked on exceptions, refining processes that weren't adequately automated due to errors or unmet thresholds. With the aid of the AI Center, the bank soon achieved a coverage rate of around 90% for the automated verification of documents.
We have moved beyond quick-win, high-volume processes, looking into automating even smaller tasks to free up our employees, focusing on controlling and evolving the robotic workforce.
Cosimo Papagna • Digital Operations & Bank Innovation
These documents were far from uniform; they came from customers across various European countries, in three different languages, and lacked any standard format. Some included images of the documents and varied greatly in quality. Despite these complexities, their combined efforts rapidly improved automation coverage.
“I believe, two takeaways from our journey stand out. First, the seamless collaboration between operational staff and the robots, and second, our vision of aiming for excellence, not just growth. We have moved beyond just high-volume processes, looking into automating even smaller tasks to free up our employees, focusing on controlling and evolving the robotic workforce. This holistic approach to automation made our staff advocates for the bank's growth.”
From a technical standpoint, their journey witnessed a natural evolution in automation systems. With Banca Progetto operating entirely in the cloud, they were pioneers in adopting UiPath cloud solution, reinforcing their position as innovators in Italy's banking sector.
“Partnering with Banca Progetto has been a symbiotic journey of innovation and advancement. Embracing UiPath cloud solution wasn't just about keeping up with the technological curve—it was about pioneering a future in digital banking. The scalability, flexibility, and efficiency of cloud offering have been instrumental in driving success, not just for Banca Progetto, but for the entire Italian banking sector,” states Andrea Cappelletti, business unit Director, Digital Transformation & Hyperautomation at S2E.
Their partnership with UiPath and S2E and their unwavering commitment to digital transformation underscores Banca Progetto's journey from being an industry participant to becoming an industry leader.
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