Authored by Mike Stewart, Head of Robotic Process Automation at Arvato CRM Solutions
The demand to control costs and deliver value for money across the public sector has never been greater. COVID-19 has driven a rise in demand for government support services, and has magnified the impact of falling budgets for both central departments and local authorities. Leaders need to find new ways of driving digital transformation to aid their recovery efforts.
Automation offers significant potential to deliver this, speeding up service delivery, reducing operating costs and human error, plugging resource gaps and freeing-up employees to focus on front-line services, which are under increasing pressure from budget constraints and citizen demand.
It can also be used to help public bodies adapt to the specific constraints of a post-COVID world. Robotic process automation (RPA), for example, can be used to automate contract issuing, helping to carry out processes that would typically be hindered by not having staff in the office.
The adoption of automation is already well underway. Using RPA, we created the first automated revenues processes in local government for an authority in the North West in 2015. Since then, we’ve implemented our ProcessAutomate solution for a range of central government departments at our shared service centre in Swansea, which provides fully standardised back-office services, as well as for multiple local authorities across the UK.
There are three key benefits we’re helping our clients achieve with RPA.
Delivering time and cost savings
The technology works by using software to create an agile, virtual workforce able to mimic human processing of repetitive, high-volume tasks, from address changes to processing Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) requests and employee information changes.
By following rule-based business processes and interacting with systems in the same secure way that people do, RPA reduces the transactional administrative workload in the back office. Across our partnerships, we’re cutting the cost-per-transaction by up to 95 per cent, and at Neath Port Talbot Council we’ve cut the time to process employee change requests from five minutes to less than two.
Importantly, introducing automation typically does not require changes to be made to an organisation’s existing IT architecture. In some organisations, having a mix of new and legacy systems can be a barrier to introducing transformation programmes. RPA sidesteps this issue – the technology can sit on top of both new and old systems and work across them.
Improving services for citizens
RPA performs the same task, the same way, every time, without error or slowdown in processing time, which means back-office work can be delivered with 100 per cent accuracy and is fully auditable.
For example, one local authority introduced our ProcessAutomate solution to help them complete repetitive back office tasks, ranging from executing direct debits to producing weekly financial reports. Implementing our automated solution to reduce the time spent on these processes saved them 8,000 hours per annum.
The extra time automation saves enables us to help our clients free-up their employees to concentrate on delivering front-line services and focus more resource on handling complex enquiries, supporting their ability to provide the best possible service for citizens.
Providing opportunities to upskill
To integrate RPA effectively, it must be guided and managed closely by the employees that use it to ensure quality control, manage exceptions, make amendments to current processes and identify other tasks that could be easily replicated by the technology.
We design our partnerships flexibly to give our clients the choice of us providing an end-to-end managed RPA service, or ‘build and deploy’, where our experts can also train employees during the implementation process to become RPA developers and take responsibility for the continued management of the software.
By partnering with Arvato, we can help you leverage RPA through our ProcessAutomate solution to transform how you operate your back-office and deliver significant new efficiencies.
Contact us to learn more about how we can support your organisation in implementing this solution – CRMSE@arvato.co.uk