Robotic Process Automation (RPA) set to drive public sector transformation in the UK

Debra Maxwell, CEO, CRM Solutions, Arvato UK & Ireland

The UK has long been at the forefront of public sector transformation; especially in local government, mounting financial pressures are continuously challenging authorities to explore new technologies that enable them to deliver more for less.

Forward thinking councils are increasingly embracing a “digital by default” agenda, which aims to make government services available online; examples include self-service platforms that allow citizens to administer their council tax payments online, or offering WhatsApp as a channel to contact the council. This is not only to reduce costs and increase efficiencies, but to provide better quality services to their citizens.

However, given the scale of the financial challenges facing councils, more radical transformation is required to deliver the meaningful change they need. Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is set to play a leading role in this, particularly across the back-office where the volume of repetitive administrative tasks presents council employees with a huge administrative burden.

Recognising the cost savings and efficiencies RPA can deliver for local authorities, Arvato has successfully implemented Blue Prism’s automation software at Sefton Metropolitan Council. The pioneering project, which forms part of our 10-year partnership with the authority, has successfully replicated a range of revenues transactional processes with 100 percent accuracy and major gains in speed.

For processes such as Council Tax direct debit registrations, input times have been reduced by 80 percent using the technology. To give an example, 800 direct debits received in a three-week period were completed in 19 hours compared to the 92 hours it would take to process manually, reducing cost per transaction from £1 to 20p. These improvements have freed up employees to focus on more strategic, business critical work which has positively impacted job satisfaction.

As a result of the successful implementation, it’s become clear that RPA technology has a myriad of potential applications for other council departments, including human resources, accounting and finance, and payroll. By delivering essential transactional elements, such as changes to personal details and other basic administrative tasks, employees will be able to devote more of their time to the parts of their roles that require human interaction and decision-making.

Interest in RPA is now widespread across the public sector, with our recent survey of 134 local and central government decision makers finding that 21 per cent expect the technology to be trialled in their department or authority over the next 12 months. For local authorities, providing efficient, cost-effective services will become more challenging in the coming years, but it’s clear they are increasingly looking to new technologies to deliver transformation and RPA will become a key part of the solution.

About Arvato UK

Arvato is a trusted global business outsourcing partner to the private and public sectors in the UK and Ireland. With more than 50 years of experience in outsourcing, Arvato combines expertise in business process outsourcing (BPO), financial solutions, customer relationship management, supply chain management, and public sector and citizen services to deliver innovative, individual solutions. Arvato has long-term partnerships with some of the most respected companies in the UK and globally, as well as innovative public sector clients. Globally, Arvato is a leading BPO provider with over 70,000 people employed across almost 40 countries worldwide. Arvato has annual revenues of €4.8bn contributing over a quarter of the Bertelsmann group annual revenues of over €17.1bn.