Recently, robotic process automation (RPA) has emerged as a game-changing technology in automating repetitive and rule-based business processes. While RPA was initially employed in the private sector to reduce costs and improve efficiency, its applications in the public sector are equally impressive.
With the leaps in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), these innovative technologies are just getting better. Intelligent automation (IA) can take simple tasks and transform them into cohesive, unified end-to-end processes. But to do that so it’s scalable across your organization, you’ll need a digital transformation plan in place, laying out what your goals are and how you want to accomplish them.
From city councils to the federal government, intelligent automation carries a lot of potential for the public sector.
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of RPA and IA in the government and public sector and examine the use cases and challenges in implementing automation technology into antiquated and current systems.
Why are IA and RPA Important in the Public Sector?
First, it’s important we understand what RPA and IA are and why they’re such popular technologies among businesses.
What does RPA actually do?
RPA deploys software bots to mimic repetitive human actions such as data entry or form filling. These robots interact with existing software applications like any user to speed up throughput and reduce manual errors. By automating time-consuming routine tasks, government organizations can free their employees’ resources to focus on more complex and strategic work.
Is intelligent automation different from RPA?
Intelligent automation (IA) takes RPA several steps forward by combining RPA and AI with ML to automate entire processes through intelligent digital workers. These digital workers perform 24/7 without breaks.
What challenges are hitting the public sector?
Public sector executives face a long list of challenges daily, from budget restrictions and lack of financial commitments from sponsors to growing workloads, staff shortages and demands for better citizen services delivery. To achieve these high standards, the public sector is expected to do more with less. And now, finally, there’s a way to do that – and it’s through automation.
SS&C Blue Prism’s intelligent automation and RPA bridge the gap between legacy systems and modern cloud applications, all while keeping data secure, accurate and accessible to the right people.
How are IA and RPA Used in Government?
Robotic process automation (RPA) and IA have numerous use cases in the public sector and government. One of the most common applications is in improving services to citizens by automating repetitive, manual processes such as data entry and verification, thereby reducing clerical errors and response times.
Digital workers can also be employed in digitizing government processes by automating document processing. This includes:
- Compliance monitoring
- Data management
Digital workers also ensure transparency and security in regulatory processes such as:
Let’s dive into other ways IA can be used in government functions.
Data entry across multiple systems
Data entry and other administrative tasks are where your big cost savings come in. And intelligent automation makes it possible to collate notes and files from multiple systems to present information chronologically.
A primary and often first use case of RPA or IA among government essential services is in streamlining administrative tasks. And it makes sense. Those tend to be the best first candidates for automation because of their structured and repetitive format.
Government agencies process large volumes of paperwork including applications, permits and licenses. By automating data entry and document processing, IA significantly reduces processing time, increases accuracy and frees staff to work on higher-value tasks such as serving citizens better.
As an example, digital workers can automate building permit processing. They extract data from an application form, review it for completeness and accuracy, then input that information into the appropriate system. This work can reduce process time from weeks to days, or even hours, depending on the level of complexity.
As you integrate more software technologies into your digital workforce, such as optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent document processing (IDP), you can automate evermore complex processes and scale these automations across government departments.
From local to federal agencies, governments are pressured to create improved citizen experiences to meet growing expectations. With the quick advancement of innovative technologies powered by AI, people want everything to be more accessible sooner. And their expectations of government services are no different.
IA can help with citizen engagement by automating customer service tasks, such as call center support, by implementing natural language processing (NLP) chatbots to answer citizen queries. This can dramatically reduce call wait times and improve customer satisfaction with faster, more accurate services.
IA can also automate front-end processes such as new account creation and account renewals, using digital workers to capture initial data and prefill requests for self-service citizen registration and unified account management.
As another example, digital workers can automate tax refund request processing by analyzing and extracting the data, then initiating the refund process, all without government employees’ involvement.
Transparency and security
Government agencies must meet high levels of governance and compliance requirements to address stricter data privacy regulations. With digital workers, data is accurately read and tracked for transparency and auditability.
SS&C Blue Prism helped one county council improve citizen services with an IA digital workforce expediting services, including social care, infrastructure and highway management. This allowed the smaller public sector groups to provide citizens with expedited services.
This council’s solution was using digital workers to automate a police welfare process by loading data onto the system and allocating it to a respective social worker. This brought a service from up to a week to only an hour to complete, helping the team divert their stretched resources from paperwork to people needing immediate support.
You can read more about their efforts here.
From predictions to payments
IA automatically extracts and validates invoice data, matching invoices with purchase orders and proof-of-delivery receipts and posting approved invoices directly into the correct system. It can be used to automate order processing and fulfillment, invoicing and cash allocation, among others.
Intelligent SS&C Blue Prism digital workers can also be trained with predictive algorithms to create forecasts that help with decision-making, such as one tax administration company that used these digital workers to predict which businesses were most likely to neglect their tax payments. The digital workers determined who was unlikely to pay and were programmed to nudge those businesses with requests to meet with the tax administration, which was often enough to spur a payment.
You can read more about their efforts here.
Further IA and RPA Use Cases
There are many more examples of IA and RPA use cases in the public sector and government, where intelligent automation has completely transformed government operations. You can read more of our real-life case studies here.
Benefits of IA and RPA in the Public Sector
Where does intelligent automation fit in the public sector? IA can improve business functions across sectors, but here are some specific examples:
- Central government: Digital workers help the people in government provide better citizen services, collating data across systems and aiding in development and delivery.
- Local government: Digital workers automate routine tasks such as council tax and social care, drawing data seamlessly from multiple sources to unify services between local governments, social services and health services.
- Health services: IA automates key processes such as appointment scheduling, patient data management and inventory. Automations improve healthcare services from frontline care service providers to financial savings.
- Policing: Digital workers can help police officers and support staff in evidence handling, fines administering and interactions with any individual agency.
By automating routine, mundane tasks, IA can reduce backlogs and improve service delivery times. Digital workers are efficient and accurate, improving data quality and auditability, and giving more time back to your government employees for better decision-making and effective policymaking.
With resources allocated more effectively, this eliminates the need to hire additional staff for these repetitive tasks, which is especially beneficial for smaller public sector organizations with limited budgets.
But it’s not just about cost savings and faster services. It’s about how automation helps public servants change the entire atmosphere of the public sector, from paperwork and processes to people.
Revolutionizing the citizen experience
IA is revolutionizing how your citizens are served, from tax collection to health services –even immigration. Taxpayers want to know they’re being listened to, and IA can help with that.
With citizen-facing virtual assistants powered by ML providing 24/7 support, response times are improving the user experience. And with automations reducing human errors and data misappropriation, citizens are getting a more transparent and accountable government.
Here are some of the other benefits of implementing a digital workforce to transform the citizen experience:
- Improved data security
- Efficient public service matching
- Transformed contact center activities
- Quicker invoice processing times
- Unified account management
Kicking it up a notch in shared services
Automating back-office processes helps standardize processes across complex operating models to reduce costs and create a stable base on which to create new products and services.
IA is particularly effective in shared services such as finance and human resources (HR), where routine tasks are common and resource-heavy, such as benefit processing. By automating these tasks, digital workers can reduce the risks of errors and fraud.
Here are some of the ways IA improves shared services:
- Faster financial data tracking
- Improved cybersecurity and incident management
- Better recruitment processes
- Accurate and quick accounts payable and receivable processing
- Streamlined employee onboarding
- Increased visibility
- Compliant compensation management
Putting the focus back on people in social services
Up to 80% of social care is made up of administrative tasks. Data entry and paperwork processing are huge burdens on social services, taking staff away from the people-facing aspects of their job requiring the human touch.
SS&C Blue Prism’s intelligent automation software enables data to be shared across multiple systems without complex or expensive integration projects.
These are just some examples of how digital workers are beneficial to social services:
- Access to data across multiple systems for faster signoffs
- Reconciliation between social care, case management, finance and brokerage systems
- Improved recruitment processes through automated background checks
- Better bookings management
- Streamlined and flawless financial assistance processes
Governments and public sector agencies no longer need to worry about sparse resources, staff shortages, processing delays and even risk management. With modern solutions such as intelligent automation, these concerns are met and dealt with, helping government employees refocus their efforts on higher-value, citizen-serving initiatives.