We can probably all agree that local councils could do with some modernisation. According to recent research, only 1 in 10 councils have deployed Robotic Process Automation solutions within the organisation. This might seem like a lot, but when you compare it to the fact that 30% of other public sector organisations have implemented some form of RPA solution, it seems as though councils are a bit behind the times. But what could RPA do for local councils anyway, and why are they struggling to implement it?
What Is RPA?
To understand how councils could benefits from RPA, we first need to make sure we understand what it is. Put simply, RPA is the application of technology, governed by business logic and structured inputs, aimed at automating business processes. Using RPA tools, a company can configure software, or a “robot,” to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems. A few uses for RPA could include generating an automatic response to an email, through to deploying thousands of bots, each programmed to automate a job within an ERP system. The applications for RPA are enormous, with the only real limit being thinking up applications for it. Businesses across the world are embracing RPA as a way to help them ditch the ‘grunt work’ in their business and improve productivity.
How Could Councils Benefit From RPA?
From applying for a parking permit or a licence, to rescuing an injured wild animal and renewing library books, councils represent a major service hub of local government. It’s estimated that local councils offer over 100 different services, delivered by over a million employees across the country. But in an increasingly digital world, businesses and organisations are under more and more pressure to deliver their services through digital channels – and local councils are no different. In an age where you can book appointments for your hairdresser online, but if you want to book one of your local council services you have to wait a long time to be allocated a random appointment, it’s understandable that the lack of modern technology causes frustration.
But RPA isn’t your average technological investment. With a little know-how, councils could use RPA solutions to dramatically improve the way they deliver services to the public, and the lives of their employees at the same time. For example, local council offices could use RPA to replicate the actions of a human being in their back office operations, taking over those mundane and repetitive tasks that follow on from every call, visit, email, chat, web form or letter. From data validation to updating records, booking appointments or sending emails, RPA could save council workers a lot of time, which could in turn be redirected into improving other areas. RPA coupled with growth in the use of smartphones, tablets, social media and internet accessibility gives councils a unique opportunity to redesign how services are delivered and consumed.
RPA could also significantly improve the service councils offer. Local councils often get a bad reputation for customer service, mainly due to frustrations over how long things take, or how complicated processes are. RPA can help local councils focus on their role of serving the public and providing the ‘human touch’ that’s so often missing from local council interactions. This means councils can focus on improving the quality of services and productivity across the board, without having to worry about the little things not being done.
So What’s Stopping Them?
So if RPA has all of these great benefits, why aren’t councils jumping at the chance to get on board? As is so often the case, the main reason comes down to money. Investment into new technologies isn’t a big priority for local councils, despite the advantages and the ROI it could bring. A secondary reason is that all too often local councils can find themselves trapped in bespoke software traps, which cost more and more to keep going and updating, but even more to replace with something different. These solutions often focus on curing the symptoms, rather than finding the root cause of problems within the organisation and solving them directly. This leads to an endless cycle of installing new technologies on top of the old ones, to solve problems the old software caused, only to see them cause their own problems. It’s no wonder so many councils are reluctant to invest in yet another new technology.
But RPA is different in two ways. Firstly, it digs down to the root issues experienced by councils and addresses them effectively, relieving the symptoms and the associated inefficiency that may have been going unnoticed. Secondly, is also incredibly versatile – RPA solutions can slot into almost any existing framework and bridge the gaps between disparate software, meaning you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to install it.
At Tocalabs, we understand the issues local councils face every day, from finding the time to carry out repetitive, mundane tasks, through to trying to deliver news services in a digital world. Our tailored RPA solutions are designed to bridge the gaps in local council systems, automate tasks that can be automated, and free up time for employees to spend on more valuable tasks. If you would like to find out more about our RPA solutions, just get in touch with one of the team and arrange your free demo today.