It’s estimated that robotic process automation (RPA) could save the United Kingdom (UK) National Health Service (NHS) over £495 million each year. The cost and service improvement benefits of automating the rules-based, repetitive tasks that underpin many public sector processes make RPA impossible to ignore.
All public sector organizations are being asked to do more with less. Budgets are being squeezed but no one can afford for service levels or citizen engagement to drop. RPA provides the ideal technology to meet many of the government’s challenges. In one instance, an agency was able to reduce an 80-hours a week audit task down to 45 minutes.
This blog looks at the areas where RPA is beginning to transform organizations across central and local government in the UK.
The UK isn’t alone; governments around the world are beginning to understand and harness the power of automation.
For example, in the United States (U.S.), when the federal administration called for across-the-board 5% budget cuts RPA offered a way to mitigate the impact. Even with budget cuts, maintenance or improvement of existing citizen services is possible with RPA.
In the past, budget cuts may have resulted in headcount reductions and the rationalization of frontline services. Today, many government organizations are seizing the opportunities via RPA to eliminate low-value tasks and allow their employees to focus on higher-value activities. This RPA approach is being promoted by the U.K., U.S., and other governments around the world.
In the Deloitte report “The new machinery of government,” Deloitte emphasizes RPA’s ability to empower government employees:
“RPA can reduce the amount of time staff spend on repetitive and routine activities . . . data improvements driven by RPA can also improve the quality of information available for management decision-making . . . RPA can therefore contribute to cost reduction targets, drive productivity and allow organizations to refocus on delivering critical public services.”
Automating tasks with RPA eliminates unnecessary costs, improves services, and reduces backlog.
In Europe, the UK has been leading the way in exploring the potential of RPA. The UK’s cabinet office has established an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE) to help spread adoption through central government.
John Manzoni, Chief Executive of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office, is famously quoted as saying: “Many of our [government] services will begin to benefit from the huge potential of robotics—or, more accurately, Robotic Process Automation. In speed and accuracy of response, RPA could transform the experience of citizens registering for services, or applying for grants of benefits.”
A great example of this is the RPA work at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the UK’s largest government department. By deploying UiPath Robots, DWP was able to clear a backlog of 30,000 claims in under two weeks. The department says that it would have needed to employ thousands of people and taken several thousands of hours without the Robots.
“We’ve proven that you can move from concept to deployment quickly and that there is little cost or no cost in expanding the number of Robots you have available. Our experience suggests the return on investment is around 15:1,” says Shaun Williamson, Senior Product Manager at DWP.
In a recent UiPath report, Robotic Process Automation: Transforming central and local government, we identify a number of key areas where the technology will bring the most benefit.
UK government employees can receive a ‘digital assistant’ in the form of a software robot to provide fast accurate services to citizens. Beyond the digital civil servant, RPA’s ability to collate data from many systems delivers a single view of the citizen to aid service developed and delivery.
RPA can automate thousands of routine tasks, such as administering council tax, managing adult social care, to improve service delivery. RPA draws data from multiple sources seamlessly to help streamline services between local UK government, social services, and health services.
RPA can automate many key processes such as inventory management, patient file-handling, and appointment scheduling. Frontline care improves and financial savings increase as RPA frees healthcare staff to handle more value-added tasks.
RPA frees police officers and support staff from repetitive tasks while also boosting accuracy in their handling evidence and administering fines. Another benefit of RPA is improved speed and efficiency of inter-agency interactions.
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