Robotic process automation (RPA) is providing councils with the opportunity to transform their back-office operations to enhance the services they provide for citizens, while delivering large cost savings.
HR departments offer huge potential to implement the technology due to the high volume of highly repetitive, administrative tasks. Neath Port Talbot Council recognised the value of partnering with an outsourcing provider with specialist capabilities to automate their HR processes and freeup employees to spend more time on business-critical work.
Arvato was chosen because of its strong track record in delivering and managing automated solutions in both local and central government environments.
The business designed a project that could transform and streamline Neath Port Talbot’s HR operations using ProcessAutomate – an industry-first solution which combines public sector process expertise with RPA technology.
RPA uses software to create an agile, virtual workforce able to mimic human processing of labour-intensive tasks, following rules-based business processes and interacting with systems in the same way that people do.
The programme with Neath Port Talbot is a combined, end-to-end solution involving Arvato’s back-office transformation expertise and robotic software from automation specialists, Blue Prism.
Working in partnership from the outset, the team conducted a thorough review of the council’s HR department to ensure the solution was auditable and scalable.
A successful pilot delivered cost savings of up to 95 per cent per transaction for three processes – the management of both Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) requests and returns for new and existing staff and completing employee information change requests.
Automated uploading removes any room for human error in processing DBS requests, transferring information on expiring certifications to a third-party DBS system. It also manages the returns process, storing passed checks in the Council’s records and alerting line managers of any actions needed if employees fail.
Changes to employee information are now continually uploaded directly from spreadsheet records onto the Council’s staff portal in real time, which has eradicated a backlog of more than 4,000 pending updates.
Following the success of the trial, the team has now rolled out these processes into a live environment and has also automated a further one for contract expiries. RPA now automatically alerts line managers via email when decisions on employee extensions or terminations are due and issues new contracts as required.
A dedicated governance team comprising of six key stakeholders from Arvato and the Council was created at the beginning of the programme to run the project, drive collaboration and ensure success.
An RPA manager was put in place to manage the design, development and implementation of each new process. A project lead manager was also assigned to work directly with Neath Port Talbot to create certified automation capability, enabling governance and change management to be set up and ensuring compliance with security and audit regulations.
The build-and-deploy model has enabled the Council to receive best practice consultation and training from Arvato to upskill three employees to run and monitor the processes moving forward.
The combination of Arvato’s public sector back-office expertise and technology has created a successful and scalable RPA model for the authority to build on.
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