Simon Perks, Head of Robotics and AI at Agilisys discusses what it takes for the sector to maximise the long-term success of robotic process automation.

Given the ever-increasing and rapidly changing demands on local government that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and a decade of financial pressures, it’s no wonder that the common question we are asked is how we can help optimise and scale automation solutions.

Many local authorities have already adopted the simplest version of robotic process automation, removing tasks from colleagues and allowing them to focus on more citizen-centred experiences. It’s fair to say, however, that the low hanging fruits that existed have been picked. The challenge now, and what the focus of many should be on, is addressing authority-specific opportunities that are outcome-based. By defining what the individual challenges are – this could cover areas such as adult and children’s social care as well as revs and bens – the opportunity becomes clear to create a scalable workforce of digital workers that can carry out the work of colleagues to allow them to optimise their own workday.

When it comes to successful automation, tactical implementations are unlikely to be effective for most councils.

The only sustainable approach that will be effective is through senior stakeholders understanding and articulating the strategic and outcome-based nature of the journey. Adoption and skills gaps can then be addressed, ensuring effectiveness and therefore return on investment.

At the heart of this is a necessary shift in colleague mindsets, alongside senior leadership, to ensure organisations can achieve maximum return on investment. As well as leveraging the more advanced capabilities that are available in automation platforms today, these include a whole host of benefits, including process mining, integration with chatbots, the ability for an organisation to prioritise their own processes, in addition to the more basic functionality that has been more widely used today, including across finance, HR and IT service areas.

Helping local government to adopt and achieve the right mindset and build the skill set to address this challenge requires a change in focus. It needs a vision that highlights what the future of work will look like for those colleagues. And, above all else, it needs to address how and why human empathy and expression should and will be utilised in interactions with citizens, rather than carrying out processes for the sake of it.

This article also appeared in the Local Government Chronicle.

 

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