Is That Any Way to Run a Branch? Workforce Optimization Solutions for Retail Banking 2012 Update

by Bob Meara, October 9, 2012
Case Studies


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 approximately 460 financial institutions (about 3%) use WFO solutions to help manage the branch channel. Those that do are disproportionately larger banks.

In an updated report, Is That Any Way to Run a Branch?: Workforce Optimization Solutions for Retail Banking 2012 Update, Celent explores the benefits of workforce optimization 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 updates a report by the same title originally published in November 2011, but draws on more current survey research among North American financial institutions (July 2012) and reflects updated vendor profiles. In particular, the profiles reflect more current installed base information as well as the 2012 acquisition of GMT Corporation by Verint Systems. The 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 then presents two case studies of WFO usage to provide significant improvements in branch channel efficiency and effectiveness, and finally describes the WFO vendor landscape, with profiles of leading solution providers.

This 37-page report contains 25 figures and 10 tables.

Celent is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

Media Contacts

North America
Michele Pace
Tel: +1 212 345 1366

Europe (London)
Chris Williams
Tel: +44 (0)782 448 3336

Asia (Tokyo)
Yumi Nagaoka
Tel.: +81 3 3500 3023

Table of Contents

Executive Summary


Introduction: Now Is the Time


A Workforce Optimization Primer



Solution Components



Getting Up and Running



Expected Results



Solution Trends


Getting the Most Bang for the Buck



Driving Organizational Change



Teller Automation Value Modeling


Case Studies In Workforce Optimization



UMB Bank



XYZ Bank


Vendor Landscape









Point Enterprises



SumTotal Systems



Verint Systems




Leveraging Celent’s Expertise



Support for Financial Institutions



Support for Vendors


Related Celent Research


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