UK government department removes ‘mundane tasks’ from its employees while improving service levels for customers through RPA.
When HM Land Registry launched its transformation program in 2018, it knew it would still need to operate using existing legacy systems for some time into the future. The government department established its service improvement team to increase efficiencies and make sure it optimized the performance of the legacy systems. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) was selected as a tactical business improvement tool during the transformation process, and it soon proved its strategic value to the organization.
When you discuss robotic automation and people immediately talk about Skynet and Cyborgs, you know that there’s likely to be resistance to RPA within your organization. That’s the situation that Lorna Jordan, Senior Product Manager at HM Land Registry, found herself in during the first RPA workshop she held with case workers in November 2018. Everything changed when the staff began to realize that RPA wouldn’t take their jobs, just the tasks they dislike.
Lorna explains: “The focus of our service improvement work is to bring benefits and efficiencies to case workers. They work very hard but a good deal of the things they do are repetitive or just very administrative. As soon as people understood that it was those simple – and perhaps mundane - tasks that RPA performed, the room went very quickly from negative to positive. We were suddenly flooded with suggestions of what we should automate.”
Little things add up to large benefits
Case workers are the foundation of operations at HM Land Registry. A case worker is responsible for dealing with the public, processing the registration application and updating the registry of properties.
The department’s ambition is to become the world’s leading land registry for speed, simplicity and an open approach to data. None of this is possible without the case workers so making their life as easy and effective as possible is a major priority for the organization. And, that led HM Land Registry to adopt RPA.
John McGroryAssociate Product Manager, HM Land Registry
“Bringing RPA into HM Land Registry was driven at a senior management level. Once we’d explained the benefits to our staff, they could see the potential of the technology, so it was straightforward to move to identifying a suitable process and beginning development work.”
The initial process the organization automated was the processing of reminder letters. When an application is received, it’s checked for completeness. If there is missing information or incorrect details, it’s returned to the lawyer or conveyancer who is asked to amend and resubmit the application. They have four weeks to complete this task or the application is cancelled.
HM Land Registry sends out a standard reminder letter after three weeks. This involved a good deal of manual work and sometimes the reminder letter would be missed. Using UiPath, Lorna’s team was able to create ‘Reggie’ the robot that automated the process so that no member of staff had to send out reminder letters. The new automation – the organization’s first – was developed, tested and rolled out to the department’s 14 offices throughout England and Wales in less than two months.
The results have been impressive. Lorna comments: “This was a simple, stable process but it took up good deal of the case worker’s time. By automating the initial reminder letter we were able to save the equivalent of 180 hours a week for the business, freeing up staff to concentrate on more complex work. HM Land Registry is great for having many similar types of processes, so we were able to identify another reminder-based process and adapt the first automation quickly to meet its needs. So, in total we saved almost 290 hours.”
Success breeds success
When the first process was rolled out across the organization in March and April of 2019, it quickly became clear to staff how they stood to benefit from the technology. It brought buy-in from case workers and a steady stream of suggestions with which to create an RPA backlog. More importantly, case workers gained a sense of ownership over the automation.
Lorna JordanSenior Product Manager, HM Land Registry
“We were very happy to see how much buy-in we were getting. It seemed everyone loved Reggie and, on the rare occasion there was an issue, we’d get a call from someone saying ‘how’s Reggie doing today?’ or ‘is there something wrong with Reggie?’. It demonstrated to us that RPA had been more than accepted within the organization, it had been embraced.”
Within seven months, HM Land Registry went from a single Reggie to 10 working across different automations. The success of the reminder automation moved the organization on to a more complex process. Sometimes an application cannot be processed as there is another application on the same property that needs to be processed first – these applications are placed in a specific ‘list’ of applications. The list has to be regularly checked to identify which applications can now be progressed.
The process was a little more complex to automate. John explains: “We soon discovered that people don’t work in the same way and every office had a slightly different way of executing the process. However, we were able to work closely with each office and build those differences into the logic in the robot. It’s allowed us to roll out the automation successfully to the nine offices that are most responsible for delivering this process.”
The new automation has shown tangible benefits to both the case workers and the department’s customers. John continues: “This is simple, administrative and the sheer volume meant that applications were only being checked manually every two weeks. That negatively affects our service levels with customers. We’re now able to automatically check the applications, which has significantly speeded the service we can deliver to customers.”
Reusability. A huge benefit of RPA
The prior pending application process highlighted a major benefit of RPA to HM Land Registry where many processes followed a very similar path. Once an automation had been developed for one process, Lorna and her team were able to identify similar processes elsewhere in the organization that could be automated with only small changes to the initial robot.
Lorna JordanSenior Product Manager, HM Land Registry
“When we started, RPA was really seen as a tactical measure to get the most from our legacy systems while we completed our transformation process. However, the speed and extent of the benefits we’ve received from RPA has made us reconsider. Our staff are clamouring for more automation and we now know how it can be strategically applied to the organization.”
Lorna says: “Take prior pending, we have many other processes where with a small tweak for a different type of application, we can now help another team to become more efficient, quickly and with very little cost. It’s incredibly rewarding when you start to see how we can keep extending the one process and reusing the UiPath automations we've already built, which has been really, really good.”
BY THE NUMBERS
- 280 hrsin time delivered back to the organization
- 10unattended robots developed, tested and delivered in 7 months
- 2 months time for first automation to be created and delivered across 14 offices
- Increasedservice levels with customers
- Reusablerobot components allowed the rapid automation of similar processes
The result of their automation work for Lorna and her team is that it has changed the perception of the role of RPA plays within the company.