Is That Any Way to Run A Branch? Workforce Optimization Solutions for Retail Banking

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23 August 2011


Annual savings of US$20,000 to $30,000 per branch await financial institutions willing to take simple steps to improve branch channel efficiency and effectiveness.

Workforce optimization (WFO) solutions aren’t a new idea. Yet a small minority of retail financial institutions use them. This is true globally. Specifically in the US, Celent estimates that less than 450 financial institutions (about 3%) use WFO solutions to help manage the branch channel. Those that do are disproportionately larger banks.
In a new report, Is That Any Way to Run A Branch?: Workforce Optimization Solutions for Retail Banking, Celent explores the benefits of workforce optimization (WFO) solutions, likely results for prospective financial institutions, and the vendor landscape for WFO.

Celent sees rapid growth in the use of WFO in retail banking for at least three reasons.

  1. Retail banking business models are challenged with eroding revenues, placing a premium on cost reduction,particularly in the branch channel.
  2. WFO solutions, once the purview of larger organizations, are now broadly delivered as software as a service (SaaS), slashing implementation costs and removing the requirement for in-house expertise.
  3. Over the past year, WFO vendors have packaged SaaS solutions with turnkey services to further reduce solution cost and complexity. This is making WFO a relatively easy “yes” even for small financial institutions.

“Financial institutions of all sizes are under considerable pressure to both reduce costs and improve branch sales and service effectiveness,” says Bob Meara, Senior Analyst with Celent’s Banking Group and author of the report. “Yet most haven’t taken the relatively simple step of workforce optimization. Those that have are enjoying considerable efficiency gains as well as a detailed understanding of their branch channel operations.”

This report begins with a brief discussion of the “new normal” in retail banking: the factors driving the acceleration of branch channel transformation and their likely persistence. Workforce automation solutions are then defined and given context. The report presents two case studies of WFO usage to provide significant improvements in branch channel efficiency and effectiveness. It then evaluates the WFO vendor landscape, with profiles of leading WFO solution providers.