The public sector has been at the frontline of fighting Covid-19, with tireless efforts from leadership, frontline workers and volunteers. However, despite their hard work, public services continue to face criticism for inefficiency, bureaucracy and poor customer service, as they continue to be weighed down by manual record keeping, siloed infrastructure and legislative restrictions.
Within this landscape, robotic process automation (RPA) is a vital step towards digital transformation, with the power to cut costs, boost efficiency, improve customer experience, and enable numerous competing demands to be managed more effectively. By automating numerous repetitive and mundane tasks, RPA also brings the added benefit of freeing up public sector workers to focus on more strategic, value-add activities – aiding employee engagement.
Advantages of RPA for the public sector
RPA has a number of characteristics which make it well suited for the public sector, including:
- Flexibility: RPA is fast to implement and update, enabling agencies to keep up with citizen demand and desire for consumer-grade service levels.
- Smart form filling: It can optimise data collection, consolidation, and indexing, ideal for transforming form administration and record management.
- Improved administrative services: From input through to compliance and reporting, RPA enables smoother, faster, service delivery, by automating bottlenecks in existing processes.
- Interphases with any system: RPA is designed to work with any system from legacy to cloud. It removes the need to connect the dots between systems.
- Lower costs: As RPA can handle complex process tasks quickly and securely, it reduces the need to rely on external contractors.
Where can RPA be deployed in the public sector?
RPA has the potential to be used across every government agency department and function, including integrating and augmenting various legacy systems. For example:
Administrative services and government initiatives
One major area that can be streamlined through RPA is managing applications and forms processing. There are countless examples of public sector services that involve some kind of application process, including certifications and licenses, registration of leases, land acquisition, purchase of residential flats and the issuance of ID cards. The majority of applications are now submitted online, yet if processed manually can cause significant headaches for staff. RPA can help to totally automate these processes, leading to huge efficiency and cost savings, not to mention faster turnaround and improved customer service.
Procure to pay services
RPA can be used in P2P processes to reduce operational costs and increase efficiency. With electronic purchase requisitions that automatically convert to purchase orders when approved, automated approval routing and e-invoicing, RPA can digitally transform the entire procure-to-pay cycle. Adopting this technology allows the procurement team to focus more on high-value-added activities, while enabling the accounts payable department to be more productive and cost effective. Organisations will also avoid late payment fees, while benefitting from early payment discounts.
Finance process services
Financial management processes, such as budgeting, fund allocation and reconciliation are ideal for RPA because they are rule driven and prone to human error. Furthermore, the need for reconciliation processes is highly variable, making it difficult to manage with a human workforce. RPA can help to standardise decision logic and eliminate errors, while driving significant cost savings through efficient resource utilisation.
Human resource services
As a process heavy function, public sector HR is also ripe for automation with RPA. Tasks that can be automated include data management, compliance, payroll administration, onboarding and offboarding. RPA brings greater efficiencies by streamlining processes such as employee updates, wage deductions, contract changes and attendance details, freeing up staff to focus on more strategic activities.
How to embrace RPA and get it right
- Develop the value proposition – tangible and intangible: When deploying automation as a process or a plan, make sure you are very clear on what kind of return you are expecting from the investment.
- Process discovery and building an automation pipeline: RPA bots can be used to quickly identify the processes where maximum automation is possible, avoiding a time-consuming manual exercise to map the automation pipeline.
- Selecting the right partner: Select a robotics partner who has an agile and flexible approach, broad experience working with a range of client needs, and who has subject matter expert in-house, so as to provide specialist and customised RPA solutions.
- Set up governance: Define key roles and responsibilities within the internal team. For example, who will oversee, monitor and report on RPA projects and progress to stakeholders?
For more information or to discuss how RPA can help your business, please get in touch with us below.
This article was written by Allen D'Souza, Partner at Mazars, and Snehal Shah, Director at Mazars.