'AutoMate-ing' Nightly Processing Pays Off for Florida's CNLBank
Jay McLaughlin, Senior Vice President and Director of Information
At Florida's multi-bank holding company CNLBancshares, Inc., nightly processing routines used to require as much as three hours of IT staff time. The staff member on duty on any given evening had to perform nearly 50 consecutive tasks to update bank databases for the next business day, manually launching, monitoring and waiting for each task to complete before moving on to the next. Instead of investing in expensive programming or a costly automation package from its core processing vendor to trigger and execute many of these routines, the bank used Network Automation's AutoMate software to implement an in-house solution to automate the majority of its nightly processes. The payoff: a two-hour reduction in daily IT overhead, automated error handling of routines, and additional efficiencies gained without any additional software investment by using AutoMate to power other manual processes.
Headquartered in Orlando, FL, CNLBank has over $1.5 billion in assets and operates locations throughout the state including 16 full-service banking offices, two operation centers and their corporate offices. The institution's strategic road map calls for continued expansion of its commercial banking operations throughout the state.
The bank's nightly processing operations involve a series of mission-critical processes ranging from posting daily account transactions to updating ATM and bank branch records, generating reports for internal staff, securely transmitting key information to third-party service providers and performing critical database backups.
By 2008, the three hours of nightly effort required for IT staff to complete this checklist of tasks had prompted Jay McLaughlin, the bank's Senior Vice President and Director of Information Technology, to consider hiring additional second-shift staff. Then McLaughlin discovered that the bank's core processing software vendor was offering an add-on automation module that would eliminate the majority of the manual steps involved in nightly processing. McLaughlin embraced the concept but believed he could find a less expensive alternative to achieve the same goal.
"I felt we were capable of building an in-house automation solution for much less money, so I began to research available technologies," McLaughlin said. "What we found was AutoMate, a customizable automation software package that could be used to build, trigger and execute pre-configured sequences for a fraction of the cost of the other alternatives."
While AutoMate is designed for do-it-yourself IT use with plain-English menus, automation wizards for hundreds of actions and a visual task-building window for assembling automation routines by simply dragging and dropping the necessary tasks, McLaughlin wanted to leave no room for error because of the business-critical nature of the project. The bank engaged Network Automation's Professional Services division to assist with the project onsite at the bank's Operations Center.
First a white-boarding session was held to outline each of the bank's nightly processing procedures on a step-by-step basis. Then automation sequences were built to handle each task.
After two weeks of testing and tweaking, CNLBank went live with the AutoMate-driven solution in May 2008. The software is scheduled to kick off processing operations at the same time every evening and programmed to check for completion of each process before advancing to the next. Additionally, in the event of an interruption or error, the program has been configured to send out email notifications to alert appropriate support personnel.
For CNLBank, the use of AutoMate provided an affordable strategy for reducing much of the manual effort involved in nightly processing activities as well as avoiding the hiring of additional IT staff to handle nightly processing duties, and significantly reducing the risk of human error. "We accomplished what we set out to do without having to pay for custom scripting or a third-party custom automation package," McLaughlin noted.
Adding AutoMate to the IT toolset has also enabled McLaughlin to improve efficiencies in other manual tasks in both the IT and functional departments. For example, AutoMate is used to trigger daily refreshes of various internal reports, including compliance reports for daily review processes and various performance reports, eliminating the need for bank personnel to perform these activities manually. For the bank's third-party vendors and service providers, the software has been configured to securely transmit and receive customer data and other information that previously required early-morning manual transmission by IT staff.
McLaughlin anticipates other uses for AutoMate moving forward. In the meantime, CNLBank has been able to successfully automate its business-critical nightly processing activities in an efficient and reliable manner. McLaughlin and his management team bank on it.
CNLBank is a $1.5 billion, state-chartered commercial bank headquartered in Orlando, Florida. With offices in Central Florida, Jacksonville, South and Southwest Florida, the bank serves the needs of business owners and high net worth individuals with a full range of financial products and services. Additionally, CNLBank Wealth Management, with over $800 million in assets under management, offers a comprehensive platform of investment management and estate planning services. For more information, visit CNLBank on the web at www.cnlbank.com.