Client: Hannoversche Volksbank Region: Europe Industry: Banking

Hannoversche Volksbank employs software robot Tessi to automate its processes

Higher data quality, lower costs and more efficient processes - with the introduction of the software robot Tessi, the Hannoversche Volksbank eG reaches its most important business target: Growth and more volume while maintaining the same capacity with the existing staff. By applying the RPA solution by UiPath, the credit institution automates in particular processes in sales-related output. Tessi takes over monotonous manual tasks or additional tasks - which put a strain on the core business - from employees. The Return on Investment (ROI) was already achieved after 1.5 years - 3 years were initially scheduled for this.

The Hannoversche Volksbank eG is a cooperative bank located in Hanover. The bank has just over 1,000 employees. It advises and supports private customers and business customers from the retail, craft and commercial sector in the economic region Hanover-Celle-Hildesheim. With a balance sheet total of EUR 6.6 billion, the cooperative credit institution is one of the largest credit unions in Germany and further growth is expected.

The Hannoversche Volksbank intends to achieve this growth with similar or lower capacities in the back office. The objective is to optimize processes, in particular on the output side, which are not connected to sales but are necessary in order to satisfy the customers' requirements. The credit institution is well positioned in its highly-standardized core banking system; there is however still room for improvement in the sales-related output. In this area employees are required to enter large amounts of data manually, e.g. when comparing customer data, in terms of seizures or when deleting credit card accounts.

"These are monotonous, time-consuming tasks, which do not offer any added value and also decrease the data quality as a result of errors made during the data input", explains Marco Dierkesmann, authorized signatory and head of the market services department at the Hannoversche Volksbank. He is responsible for passive production, payment and the overall processes in passive business and services. "That is why we wanted to make the data collecting processes more efficient, generate more volume with the same staff, accelerate processing and improve data quality; at the same time our objective was to achieve this with our own employees, without having to rely on an external service provider in the long-term. This is how we came across automation and RPA."

Interdisciplinary RPA team

At the end of 2018 and within eight weeks they decided to use RPA and a corresponding solution, as the bank expected a faster Return on Investment (ROI) with this option. UiPath was selected as the provider for the RPA software. The decision was - amongst others - based on the high scope of functions, the testimonials from reference customers and in particular the simple handling of the software.

"One does not need a diploma in computer sciences in order to be able use the UiPath application - good proficiency of standard IT topics is sufficient. It was very important to us, that our own employees can master it quickly", says Marco Dierkesmann.

He furthermore praises the informative tutorials offered by the UiPath Academy, as well as the competent UiPath employees who supported them with solutions for complex cases. And in addition UiPath was already certified in the central, national data center of the Volks- and Raiffeisenbanken. The payment model based on modular licenses also won over the bank.

At the beginning of 2019 the realization was started. The Hannoversche Volksbank set up an interdisciplinary RPA team, which currently consists of seven employees. The team was commissioned to develop and maintain the robotics processes for the next three years. IT-savvy bankers who had modelled the processes in the core banking system are also part of the team.

The bank uses UiPath Studio for the development of the software robots, which is now also supported by the UiPath Orchestrator for the operation, monitoring and control of the robots. Marco Dierkesmann adds: "In the beginning we developed an administration tool ourselves. However, as the number of software robots has increased to 30, we are now controlling their operation with the Orchestrator."

Communication with Tessi

In order to engage the employees and remove their fear of RPA-based change, the Hannoversche Volksbank developed a communication concept. Internally RPA is not advertised as "robots" but as "technical assistants" called Tessi - which also has its own logo. For example, the first success story around robotics was an interview between the press officer and Tessi. In other statements Tessi describes how she is feeling at the moment, what kind of tasks she is currently completing and which tasks she acquired recently - and also which tasks she is not able to complete.

The employees' have a positive image of Tessi and they feel that the automation of processes brings real relief to their everyday work. In this way the employees understand that expertise and experience cannot be replaced by technology. The software robot also complained once that it does not receive enough work

Marco Dierkesmann

First robot opened the doors

With its software robots, the Hannoversche Volksbank differentiates between transactional robots and list robots, which are processing large lists. There is a dispatcher - a team lead robot - on the superordinate level who dispatches work and launches the other robots. The very first process the bank optimized with the help of RPA, was the process of changing a loan's counterpart account. Around 6,000 to 7,000 times a year, customers change the account from which the bank debits a loan's interests and repayments. The request is often received by email. Before the automation, an employee had to complete several manual process steps in the system in order to change the counterpart account.

To facilitate this task, the RPA team built the transaction robot "Changing a loan's counterpart account". The employees now only have to copy the account number from the email into the software robot's task list and the robot then completes the rest of the process.

"The first software robot was programmed within two days. In this way, we were able to quickly show the management and the employees the skills of these kind of robots. 6,000 to 7,000 monotonous tasks per year are taken over from our colleagues, including the potential sources for errors, which could occur during manual processing. This was an important breakthrough to promote RPA in our company.", Marco Dierkesmann joyfully adds.

RPA relieves employees

Up to today, the Hannoversche Volksbank only automates processes which are rather burdensome for the employees or which are additional tasks putting a strain on the core business. One example are seizures from private or business customers. Once a seizure is received, the bank has to check whether the person concerned is actually one of the bank's customers and owns accounts which are applicable for seizure. If this is the case, the bank is required to freeze the corresponding accounts. "In 85% of the current cases this is conducted by a software robot. In this way we were able to handle the significant increase in workload over the last few years with the existing capacities." Marco Dierkesmann adds.

The Hannoversche Volksbank saves 80,000 working minutes (1,333 hours) per year in the process "online banking set up", because a transaction robot significantly reduces the sales employees' working steps. A customer's application for online banking requires signing of different contracts and the submission of information; the employees are required to register this and complete several processing steps.

Marco Dierkesmann adds: "One minute saves us one Euro. The software robots do not only help us to reduce costs, but we also show the sales employees that RPA offers them more time for direct contact with the customer."

In addition to the transaction robots, the Hannoversche Volksbank programs so called list robots, which process large excel lists. One example: An employee would have to enter the same label 10,000 times in a certain field for 10,000 securities portfolios. A list robot is now taking over this task. Another example is AnaCredit, a database containing detailed information regarding individual credits by banks in the euro zone. Banks are required to collect a large amount of data for this and submit it to the Bundesbank. The Bundesbank then provides the data in the form of an excel table. "We first have to process this table in order to be able to continue working with it. This is the same task again and again", says Dierkesmann. "A list robot is now taking over this task, so we did not have to create a new role for it."

Future: Document Understanding and Artificial Intelligence

The Hannoversche Volksbank is very happy with the current RPA results. The Return on Investment (ROI), including the consultancy costs, was already achieved after 1.5 years - 3 years were initially scheduled for this. Further advantages are higher data quality and a lower percentage of errors, as tasks are completed by a machine, lower costs as a result of the compensation of the natural employee fluctuation as well as more efficient processes.

"We have achieved our most important business objective: growth and more volume with the same capacities and the existing staff. For us RPA is no "one-hit-wonder" where we achieve the ROI in the short-term, but Robotic Process Automation enables us to achieve a sustainable improvement", concludes Marco Dierkesmann.

Marco Dierkesmann adds: "One minute saves us one Euro. The software robots do not only help us to reduce costs, but we also show the sales employees that RPA offers them more time for direct contact with the customer."

On the next evolutionary stage, the bank will combine its software robots with text recognition by Abbyy - a partner from the UiPath ecosystem. At the moment, the RPA team is developing a software robot which captures the ID card data for entering the customer validation data. This means that the sales employees will no longer be required to copy the data from the ID card; they will only scan the card and submit the scan to the robot, which then extracts the information and completes the process automatically. Further applications with text recognition, machine learning, and other AI elements are to follow in the next few years.

In addition, the Hannoversche Volksbank established an RPA cooperation with other credit unions. Marco Dierkesmann adds: "We are sharing software robots or act as an enabler for other banks to support them with our experience, so they can also start working with RPA. In this way, we are able to expand our business segment."

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