The Impact of Automating Nearly 300 Processes in Financial Services

Learn how we achieved millions in annual hours returned in addition to tens of millions in annual financial benefits realized, both in cost avoidance and direct financial impact/hard savings.
Daniel Ireland ImageDavid Houck ImageElle Miller Image
Multiple AuthorsMultiple Authors
November 29, 2022

It's been several years since Discover® first launched its Robotic Process Automation (RPA) program. In that time, we've grown from a single team in our Business Technology department to seven RPA teams embedded across our different lines of business (with more in the works) and representing multiple disciplines such as operations, robotics, artificial intelligence and business strategy.

With nearly 300 manual processes currently automated in production, our successful integration across the enterprise and Runway transformation initiative have helped fuel an increase in the value of use cases by 400% since 2020. This includes hours given back to employees so they can focus more time on enhancing our products/services and overall customer experience. In fact, we’ve achieved millions in annual hours returned in addition to tens of millions in annual financial benefits realized, both in cost avoidance and direct financial impact/hard savings.

Below are two notable use cases that highlight the scope of our automation efforts and their ability to impact every area of the enterprise.

1. Discover Student Loans (DSL) Multi-App Validations

This effort seamlessly validates data between four different student loan applications and the source system to ensure accuracy. This is accomplished by having a bot pull input data from several systems and files into a queue where DSL Web is then launched. The bot then navigates through the pages, scraping and updating data as it goes until there are no pending items left.

From here, another bot pulls data from our Finacle database using a python script owned by the DSL tax team before creating an output report of the scraped information. The data in the report from DSL Web is then compared to that in the Finacle database and any information that doesn’t match between systems is flagged for further investigation.

Once fully implemented, it is estimated that this RPA initiative will help eliminate 38,000 hours per year in manual evaluation, saving the company $1.6 million annually and is in the process of being expanded for greater value impact.

2. Corporate Risk Management (CRM) Testing Validations

In this initiative, we implemented a series of automated processes involving 15 bots to reduce manual testing and enhance quality and accuracy of data validation. The bots perform validations on a monthly basis as part of the ongoing monitoring function at Discover, to locate any discrepancies and alert employees.

Each bot helped automate a different testing environment, such as deposit statement reviews and card conversion rewards calculations, to ensure there were no underlying discrepancies with the business process in adherence with internal compliance and external regulations. Since implementing the bots, our data sample sizes have increased 3,000 times on average leading to stronger, more accurate testing, while also preventing tens of thousands of hours in manual labor annually.

“The use of automation in our risk testing environment has been a game changer, as it frees up so much time for our teams to focus on other areas while allowing us to expand our total coverage.” – Tom Drake, Senior Manager Compliance Programs

A major driver behind our progress and accomplishments to date has been our award-winning, hybrid, hub-and-spoke operating model, consisting of independent federated spoke teams supported by a strong, multi-tiered governing body (hub). This model has allowed for rapid escalation of challenges, efficient and frequent knowledge sharing, continuous improvement, risk mitigation and hands-on collaboration. Another differentiator in our progress to date is our in-house training and upskilling programming, which has helped promote companywide ownership of RPA, reduce the time from spoke selection to value delivery and present new growth opportunities for employees.

The value delivered to date through automation is transforming Discover internally, allowing the enterprise to deliver more for its customers and partners externally. Employees at all levels of the organization and in different roles have truly embraced extreme automation and understand the value it provides. They’re excited to evaluate their processes with the potential for automation to alleviate their non-value added, manual, repetitive work.

As a result of this high engagement, we are seeing some amazing process improvement opportunities surface with tremendous impact for employees and the organization. This work will in turn directly and indirectly benefit our customers, whether it’s through more reliable and higher quality products/services or freeing up our engineers so they can focus more time innovating, problem-solving and further differentiating our company from others in the financial sector.

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