RPA in Local Councils
Over one million people are employed by councils across the UK and are responsible for delivering a variety of services on behalf of local government. These services include childcare, planning, housing, transport and many more. Local councils are constantly looking to improve their handling times and better their cost efficiencies due to the large volume of tasks and correspondence they deal with on a daily basis.
From updating records to applying for a parking permit, a lot of the services provided by the back-office depend on set processes with logical steps. In the case of a parking permit, specific data entries from applications are manually processed by a chain of employees, making it unnecessarily time consuming. However, if RPA were to perform this straightforward task, it would eliminate the need for so many people to be involved, significantly shortening the time to delivery and removing the possibility of errors.
Tasks such as renewing library books or sending council tax reminders are examples of council-performed activities which do not vary in the way the process is repeatedly performed (except for the input data). These characteristics makes this sector an ideal candidate for robotic process automation, as one robot could be applied to multiple instances of a process, making that process much more efficient. Furthermore, specifically within councils, the frequency with which these tasks are performed magnifies the advantage of incorporating RPA.
The automation of tasks that are typically considered mundane and mindless would allow employees to concentrate on more complex tasks that require sophisticated cognitive reasoning, such as planning permission applications. The addition of RPA to a council allows employees to be more productive as they would be working on more strategic tasks as opposed to administrative ones. Understandably, this would also boost job satisfaction. Alongside all of these benefits, the increased efficiency as a result of RPA would also cut the cost per transaction, maximising the capabilities of councils in the long-term.
From this viewpoint, it is evident that incorporation of RPA within councils should be highly sought after, however just over one in 10 councils have implemented RPA in the UK. These councils that have welcomed RPA have reported 100% accuracy from the automated tasks, however many have stated they are not ready just yet due to a lack of understanding and awareness. There is also speculation around the effects on the quality of service to the public, as people that are unaware of RPA technology assume that it aims to entirely replace the need for humans. In fact, one of the biggest advantages is that RPA gives employees more time to provide more hands on, interactive assistance that is still greatly needed as well as valued.
All views and positions contained herein are entirely my own and not representative of any other individual, organisation or company.