Introduction

The public sector is constantly under pressure to do more with less. Pressure is driven by taxpayers, legislators, governors, and mayors, as they fight for popularity through lower costs.

But what has this got to do with IT, and how can these costs and risks be mitigated?

This POV will highlight the ways RPA can reduce the pressure of delivering more for less. 
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Current IT Landscape – Legacy Systems

Traditionally, the public sector has been hindered by a lack of integration between legacy systems. Facilitating this requires manual intervention to manage data and information movement amongst workers and residents, leading to increased costs and errors. In contrast, the private sector has embraced data and automation, raising residents’ and business’ expectations for a proactive and data-driven public sector that delivers services with speed and efficiency.

Automation is becoming the standard across industries, and inevitable for the public sector provided its growing workload from legislation changes, residential demands, and declining staff numbers due to demographic changes. The needs and expectations of communities is everchanging and so is the technological landscape. Therefore, public sector organisations should look to upgrade processes for efficiency and innovation.

The Future is Automated

Since the pandemic outbreak in 2020, the demand for self-service through seamless digital channels has accelerated. Research by Gartner shows that in 2021, 82% of residents expected self-service options in comparison to 73% in 2020. Shifts in demographics has also resulted in a higher percentage of workers being comfortable with advanced technologies, with younger generations expecting more advanced digital tools. This shift indicates that the public sector should look to offer fast, paperless, self-service experiences to remove friction, improve satisfaction and increase efficiency.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is the use of software bots to automate mundane, repetitive, data centric processes. Using RPA frees up staff for more value-add, priority tasks that may have been on the back-burner due to the need to complete these repetitive activities.

Bots interact with interfaces designed for people, completing keystrokes, copying and pasting data, moving between systems, and more. Almost any typical rules-based process can be automated using RPA and can generate cost and time savings for the public sector.

Find out more about the basics of RPA, here.

Use Cases

RPA has numerous use cases based around the public sector. This POV will explore a few of these as examples.

Decision Making

Public sector workers often spend a significant amount of time on operational tasks like data collection and collaboration, whilst more strategic tasks such as data analysis and decision making is neglected.

Responsiv estimate that ~70% of decision-making time is spent collating the data needed to make a decision. But what if we could reduce this and accelerate the time to decision by automating this data collection and reporting?

RPA can be used to automate various functions including data extraction, entry, and report creation, etc. Bots can enter designated systems to extract the necessary data and create reports for human consumption. Staff now have all the data they require to make decisions in one place and the chance of error is reduced, allowing them to make quick, informed decisions with accurate data to back this up. Information can be presented on a live dashboard or sent in a report by email to relevant stakeholders.

Using bots reduces the chance of errors as humans are no longer copying and pasting, or remembering information, rather data is taken from the source directly. Time and cost are saved by avoiding rework and delays.

Customer 360 Information

RPA in this example acts as a filing assistant, aggregating customer data from multiple systems of record (SoR) to create unified customer profiles.

This enables hyper-personalisation of customer journeys, improves customer experiences, and automates data heavy tasks for staff. Automating data collection from SoRs reduces the risk of error or duplicating data across various systems and departments. This is because data can be stored in one place but collated using bots. When aiding customers, staff have quick access to accurate, up to date information to provide improved and more-timely customer service.

Staff do not have to spend time collating data every time a customer has a query, and customers and staff no longer face multiple data records that are incomplete or incorrect. Service is streamlined as there is one truth – customers tell you data once and this is fact.

The need to manually go between applications and systems is eliminated, improving efficiency and service, without increasing resource capacity and cost.

Legacy Systems

Organisations don’t necessarily have to replace their legacy systems just because they do not integrate with new applications. RPA can bridge the gap between different legacy software, giving it a new lease of life.

As we have discovered, RPA can access data and complete tasks using interfaces designed for people. Create a bot that accesses the data or triggers activity from the legacy system and keep seeing the value without requiring manual workarounds that take up staff time.

Unstructured Data

Automatically classify different categories of data using optical character recognition (OCR) to extract text from images and documents.

Should residents prefer paper-copies of documentation such as request forms or letters, you will no longer require a human to read and validate what has been written. Using bots to complete these tasks will improve accessibility and streamline processes that rely on non-digital documentation.

RPA Myths

It is important to debunk some of the common misconceptions that come with automation. RPA does not replace human staff and resources, rather it aids them in optimising their day-to-day activity and allows them to be more productive by removing mundane and repetitive tasks. Think of them as robot assistants.

Contrary to belief that bots are expensive, RPA offers low-cost, high return on investment (ROI) – allowing organisations to see a significant cost saving. This mostly comes from the decrease in operational costs.

RPA creates ROI in multiple ways. As RPA handles stable, rules-based business processes, it reduces labour cost. The process allows employees to skip data entry and focus on revenue generating activities. Similarly, higher productivity is a result of using RPA, as the robots are operating 24/7. In turn this increases business efficiency.

RPA solutions also have a strong set of security functions to ensure that when in operation, processes are reliable and safe. The bots can protect sensitive data, provide visibility of usage, and provide access controls.

Implementing RPA

Implementing RPA involves several phases. These include a discovery phase to review as-is and to-be processes, mapping where necessary, and understanding data, systems, and stakeholders; creating a detailed document with instructions to understand the human activity that will be used to set up the RPA bot(s); setting up the bots to interact with the relevant systems and end points.

Exceptions and escalations are reviewed and resolved by experienced business users during the discovery phase. Instructing the bots to perform inefficient tasks will not provide value to an organisation, so reviewing and re-evaluating processes provides the opportunity to optimise existing processes where possible to ensure you get the most value from your automation investment.

Conclusion

Robotic Process Automation can bring significant efficiencies to the public sector and local government bodies by improving processes, reducing costs and errors, and enhancing service delivery and satisfaction. Implementation does not require changes to existing systems, avoiding the time, cost and disruption that these changes would require.

Provide efficient service at reduced cost.

While RPA automates tasks, it allows staff to focus on providing personalised and valuable service to the public, improving the way local government is perceived by residents.

RPA is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what you can achieve through automation. Find out how you can utilise RPA amongst other automation tools, here:

Responsiv

Responsiv provide distinctive and effective solutions, offering quick deployment and positive vendor experience to help organisations within the public sector embark on their RPA and broader automation journey.

At Responsiv, our vision is to provide distinctive solutions to business users that are easy to operate and own, while effectively meeting the needs of our customers. By choosing Responsiv, you not only gain access to cutting-edge technology but also benefit from quick deployment and a positive vendor experience, which ultimately deliver significant business advantages.

Get in touch today to start your RPA transformation!

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