Tackle legacy systems and processes with Intelligent Automation to improve central government services for employees, citizens and organisations.
Led by Civil Service decision-makers with technological savvy and commercial experience, there is now intense focus on the significant gains that robotic process automation can deliver to meet key challenges in the public sector. In fact, research has suggested that automation in Central Government can free up over 25% of working hours.
In a widely reported speech, the UK’s top civil servant, Sir John Manzoni, specifically highlighted the role of robot technology in bringing into reality the desired transformation of the Civil Service. “Many of our services will begin to benefit from the huge potential of robotics – or, more accurately, robotic process automation (RPA),” he said. “In speed and accuracy of response, RPA could transform the experience of citizens registering for services or applying for grants of benefits.”
An “automation first” culture is when the first thought that comes to an employee or stakeholder is to automate to accomplish a task or improve a work process, rather than trying to execute all work manually can help to drive these opportunities to deliver better public services, enabling busy departments to handle increases in workload. Public sector departments that are “automation first” will be faster, more efficient, more adaptable, and can unlock more human resources to innovate and provide the best services for their citizens.
Six key potential use cases for accelerating digital transformation and service improvement in the public sector, which I will focus on here, are to:
- Help HR to process and on-board new staff;
- Automate data migration to give vulnerable citizens the support they need;
- Enhance citizen experience;
- Drive efficient applications and claims processing;
- Validate and improve data quality; and
- Ensure quality program delivery.
Help HR to process and on-board new staff
Pre-employment screen is time-consuming and can delay urgent recruitment needs—in some departments it takes up to 160 days—and this reduces the pace of headcount increases to meet EU exit demands. A bot can run background checks, validate professional qualifications, assign applicants to suitable jobs and automatically notify HR when an applicant is ready to be on-boarded. This reduces manual data input by up to 35%, improves record accuracy and decreases the time to process applicants from days to hours.
Automate data migration to give vulnerable citizens the support they need
A key challenge for the public sector is legacy systems and data migration, where major data updates can delay citizens’ access to essential services. With some migrations requiring approximately 10,000 transactions to process, manual processing would need 12 FTEs—an unthinkable cost burden for most departments. A cost effective solution is to train a bot to complete the migration inside a critical transition window. This can also drive extra value by automating additional processes. Bots can process thousands of transactions at increased accuracy and 60% faster than manual processing.
Enhance citizen experience
Contact centres, online portals and Government websites face sudden increases in enquiries from citizens and businesses, especially in times of crisis such as the current pandemic. The public are seeking information covering many areas that require manual access across legacy systems. Automation, such as a “digital assistant” can provide fast, accurate services to citizens by collating data from many systems to deliver a single view to aid service development and delivery. This can reduce call volume by up to 50%, improve first contact resolution and reduce handling time by as much as 40%.
Drive efficient applications and claims processing
Applications and claims processing is essential to citizen services. However, inconsistent processes are prone to errors and fragmented channels (paper, electronic documents, emails and image handling) at different stages of the process. The solution is fully integrated, end-to-end automation to enable claims processing based on configurable rules. A bot is able to extract multiple data irrespective of field form and position and can introduce complex error tracking and resolution. This eliminates lengthy manual work in the verification of applications with a process rate of 100 applications an hour. Because automation solutions can be laid over existing systems, the time from concept to deployment is accelerated—usually around 12 weeks and the ROI can be 15:1.
Validate and improve data quality
One of the central challenges in the Public Sector is large legacy systems that make it challenging to run data into intelligence and bring significant time and capability constraints. Automation can be used to resolve out of date information and to interface with legacy systems, where making changes to core systems is long and costly. A bot is able to extract data from one system, validate it and put it into another. Bots can also be used to manage data quality, perform real-time data cleaning and to ensure 100% data accuracy. The key outcome is improved data quality in core systems and enhanced data connectivity between legacy systems.
Ensure quality program delivery
One result of leaving the EU is that change programmes have often been to the detriment of departmental mission. For example, HMRC has stated that it will delay issuing tax fines to free up staff. In addition, implementing the new Customs Declaration Services (CDS) system to help with Brexit has seen another 40 HRMC IT projects put on hold. Departments have to minimise the effect on their change programmes, especially where it leads to lost or deferred revenue. By automating day-to-day business functions, staff can be free to concentrate on delivering EU exit changes and to complete their business as usual operations without undue impact.
Intelligent automation can span all central government departments and is a key solution to optimise budgets and reduce the impact of a crisis on digital services. It connects legacy systems without infrastructure renewal, facilitates process improvement and monitors regulatory compliance. Government departments need to scrutinise their budgets and advocate for creative solutions that enable high quality public services—Intelligent Automation is one of the fast routes to digital service enhancement.