Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka & Finance PLC Gains Consistency, Accuracy with Robot – Read Their Story

Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka & Finance PLC Gains Consistency, Accuracy with Robot

Prominent regional financial institution automates end-of-day processing to ensure company’s branches and service centers are ready to open at start of business the next day


The Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka & Finance PLC (MBSL) is a leading financial services provider in Sri Lanka with a rich financial history as the country’s pioneer specialist in trade finance and investment banking.

In addition to being one of the most stable finance companies in Sri Lanka, MBSL is also one of the fastest growing financial services providers in the country with a rapidly growing team, expanding branch network and product portfolio, and an increasing customer base. Today, 21 million islanders rely on its 49 branches and service centers and the 1,000 employees that ensure its financial security and stability.

Processing Problems Delayed Branch Openings

Chamara Withanachchi is head of IT at MBSL, which uses Fiserv Signature on POWER9 hardware running IBM i as its core banking application. Withanachchi has been working on IBM i (iSeries, AS/400) for more than two decades—his entire career. His IT team at MBSL includes four IBM i operators who manually entered and ran jobs on the system. But there was a problem. As MBSL grew, so did their transaction volume and workload. Manual operations became increasingly inconsistent.

“Operators were working 24 hours a day, but because all this was being done manually, there were errors, mistakes, and gaps in the process,” Withanachchi said. “Because updates were still occurring at 8 a.m. due to gaps and errors, this delayed the morning operations. Sometimes, our system was delayed up to three hours! This meant some of our branches couldn’t open on time.”

In order to improve consistency and reliability while reducing errors and operational cost, Withanachchi knew he needed to implement an automated, interactive solution that would streamline processing without adding to his headcount.

Automated Workload with Robot Schedule

To find the right solution, Withanachchi turned to his trusted vendor Fortra for advice. For several previous IT projects, he had partnered with Rohit Mathur, director of emerging markets from the Asia-Pacific headquarters of Fortra located in Melbourne, Australia. “I have known Fortra and Rohit for over 15 years,” he said, “We use a number of their solutions, and Rohit mentioned the Robot Schedule workload automation software just as we were planning our core banking upgrade.”

To further comply with banking regulations, Withanachchi added the Robot Replay plug-in to help when adding complex job scenarios such as manually submitted interactive tasks. “I chose the Fortra solution because of their IBM i-centric architecture, experienced support, and my relationship with their team in APAC,” he said. “I have only had positive experiences dealing with the team.”

Withanachchi worked closely with Mathur and the Fortra Tech Support team to implement the Robot solution. Right from the beginning, Withanachchi liked its familiar interface and longstanding reputation for reliability. But Robot Schedule has brought many more tangible benefits to the team at MBSL.

Reduced EOD Run Time by 50%

The IBM i operations team at MBSL found the process of submitting IBM i jobs with Robot Schedule to be very easy. The job definitions were robust and detailed, and with automated scheduling, they soon saw fewer incorrect parameters, wrong submissions, object locks, and missed dependencies.

“Our team has witnessed incredible results,” Withanachchi said. “The errors that delayed overnight batch processing are now minimized or reduced. We slashed our end-of-day (EOD) processing run time by 50 percent! We’ve also been able to reduce operational costs.”

Saved 5 Hours Per Day with Robot Replay

MBSL also has a goal of increasing its customer base and expanding the branch network. Now that their entire EOD, pre-EOD, and post-EOD are running fully automated using Robot—no manual parameter or input is required from an operator—Withanachchi’s IT team is able to manage the system with only two operators. “Our other two operations support staff have been redeployed throughout the company and we didn’t have to increase our headcount,” he said.

Throughout the process, Withanachchi’s only concern was setting up Robot Replay objects, but it was much easier than initially assumed. “Robot Replay records what operators do every night, learns the steps, captures them, and then replays the images,” he said. “This saves us nearly five hours each day.”

Robot Schedule and Robot Replay are helping MBSL achieve their goals of serving their clients and becoming a pillar of sustainability on the island.

“If we had not implemented this technology, our business would look very different today,” Withanachchi said, “We’d be having the same issues, errors, and delays again and again, making it hard for other departments and customers to trust us and rely on us. But now we have taken care of those issues and are thriving.”

What Withanachchi likes best is the product quality, ease of use, and the fantastic post-sale support from both the Sales and Support groups at Fortra. “We have achieved our immediate goals and will continue to expand our product usage,” he said.

Our systems are fully automated using Robot. No manual parameter or input is required from an operator.

Chamara Withanachchi, Head of IT, Merchant Bank of Sri Lanka

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