And just like that, the world is mired in a global pandemic. Nobody is immune to this once-in-a-century event. Truly, we are all in this together. Governments have sprung into action on all fronts to help their citizens cope with the health and economic ramifications of this pandemic.
On March 27, the United States government passed the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES). Provision 1102 of this act is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This program, facilitated through the Small Business Administration (SBA), is a $349 billion allocation geared towards helping businesses continue to pay employees during the pandemic’s darkest days. This program took effect just one week after passage. The minuscule amount of time between program design and deployment, coupled with the fact that that these loans are offered on a first-come, first-served basis to potentially 5.6 million applicants, explains why bankers charged with facilitating these loans refer to it as the “we’re not ready for the rollout” program. As of Saturday, Bank of America was the only major bank processing these loans. (BOA processed 60,000 applications on the program’s first day.)
The vast majority of the loan applications are being processed by smaller, regional and community banks and credit unions. How are these institutions, who are already dealing with their own operational issues caused by the pandemic, going to handle the crush of activity? A growing number of them are quickly turning to Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
RPA is a systems integration and process automation method whereby software robots (or bots) are used to remote control an application’s user interface for the purposes of extracting data from, pasting data to, and automating repetitive and deterministic dataflows. The most attractive aspects of RPA as an integration and automation method are:
- Deploys quickly – no changes are required to the integrated applications.
- Mimics any process a human performs – regardless of the underlying application.
- Automates your manual tasks by reducing your manual processing and enabling you to manage errors in the automated flow.
- Enables quick and easy innovation by allowing you to automate and improve key processes using a single web-based portal for tasks like the monitoring of all bots.
That sounds just like what the banker ordered when times call for the immediate processing of millions of loans, and existing systems have not been – and will not be – modified in time to accommodate this new transaction type. Thankfully, KnowlegeLake provides enterprise-class RPA capabilities built atop a modern, cloud-native platform that can be deployed in minutes.
Over the past few days, we’ve been working with several of our banking clients to design and deploy an RPA-centered solution that helps them meet this seemingly insurmountable challenge. Our clients refer to what we’ve cooperatively developed as the “PPP first-responder solution.” The solution, which is comprised of both attended and unattended bots, works as follows:
- SBA loan application forms (mostly fillable PDFs) and supporting documents are ingested via KnowledgeLake’s document capture service.
- Once captured, the documents are run through our machine learning service that extracts the data from the captured documents.
- After all the qualifying documentation is received, the data extracted from those documents (and the documents themselves where needed) is passed to RPA unattended bots. These bots perform the data entry into upstream SBA and internal core lending systems and upload the original signed documents to the SBA. No human intervention is required, thus freeing up bankers to focus on serving customers rather than typing data into multiple systems.
- Since the KnowledgeLake platform is deployed through a browser, all loan information is available to any remote loan agent 24/7. This documentation is available for direct search via the KnowledgeLake content services search engine and/or directly from within internal banking system screens via an attended bot integration.
The result is a streamlined process for handling PPP applications with as little human intervention as possible, no rekeying of data into multiple systems, and near-zero error rates. Without this capability and KnowledgeLake’s ability to provide services in minutes, our banking clients would not have a fighting chance to meet this critically important demand.
While we do not normally recommend implementing mission-critical, high-volume solutions in a matter of days, times of crisis often require bold and immediate moves. It is reassuring to know that a comprehensive, yet flexible system like the KnowledgeLake platform is at the ready to meet such challenges when the call comes.
If you’d like to learn more about how KnowledgeLake can help you weather the storm (and handle all your other intelligent content automation needs once this too passes), reach out to us.