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RPA for Public Sector

The demands of the public sector are higher than ever, and the governments face severe constraints. Cutting costs means efficiency in good times and a necessity during harder times. Nevertheless, cost efficiency is one of the key objectives of all governments. Yet many such projects fail due to the wrong approach, i.e., reducing costs less likely to sustain the intended cost reductions. In other words, governments tend to reduce budgets in ways that are not sustainable. Governments have started leveraging on smarter means for managing public sector expenditures. These are permanent solutions that help in cutting costs without compromising on the quality. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an intelligent approach to help realize public sector efficiency in terms of cost and quality.

In the past, the public sector has been either slow or unable to adopt digital transformation. Recently, governments have shown more adaptability towards technology, and RPA is one way that aided this trend. While RPA brings enormous benefits through automation of processes typically run every day in public sector agencies, it is a non-invasive technology that is convenient to adopt and can be introduced in phases. Since RPA doesn’t have to be operated to an end-to-end process, it enables large departments to automate sub-processes seamlessly, with low costs and minimal disruptions. Accordingly, RPA closes the gap between novel technologies and legacy systems in the public sector.

RPA is a rules-driven technology that does not require any human judgment. It takes care of all the repetitive tasks that involve data manipulation and data migration. All the data-intensive processes that have a high error rate, include sensitive information, and are electronically triggered are the potential candidates for RPA. Governments generally depend on massive databases that involve a large number of transactional activities. Public sector workers dedicate a substantial portion of their workdays in such operating tasks as collecting, cleaning, and reorganizing data. Consequently, the workforce has less time to assign more germane roles that entail data integration and analysis. Implementing RPA has been recognized by various public sector domains such as healthcare, education, police, central government, local government, to name a few. A significant amount of use cases in these sectors are a testimony for other countries to consider.

The central governments can automate universal credit and benefit calculations, tax calculations, and licensing application processing. All these functions are data-intensive, involve mundane but necessary handling of data, and cannot afford errors. For local governments, RPA can be used to automate processes related to revenue collection, permit applications, and incident reporting to highlight a few. The new machinery of government: Robotic Process Automation in Public Sector by Deloitte LLP underscores the use cases in public sectors and reports an increase in throughput and ROI and reduced costs as the primary outcomes. Nonetheless, RPA brings many benefits to the public sector and a smart approach towards digital transformation.

To summarize, RPA can handle complex tasks with speed. RPA enables optimization of data collection, consolidation, and indexing to set up all processes with accurate information. It also introduces accuracy to payments and distribution as RPA returns results that are consistently error-free. Through automation, RPA enables smoother and quicker delivery of services and enhance service levels. Automating repetitive tasks helps the public sector improve their operations, reduce costs, and improve citizens’ service. Employees appreciate the benefits of RPA as it relieves them from mundane activities to focus on more value-adding projects and serve the citizen. Public sectors that have adopted RPA find the functioning least disruptive during crises such as the present Covid-19. With fewer employees at work, bots perform tasks 24/7, can be remotely accessed, and mitigate the majority of the risks associated with shutdowns. For these reasons, RPA is envisioned as a critical driver towards digital transformation in the public sector.

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RPA for SMEs

Organizations are increasingly automating business processes through software automation. Software automation has been simplified and made more accessible to larger populations of businesses through Robotic Process Automation (RPA). A breakthrough in technology, RPA is used to automate rules-based business processes that entail routine tasks, structured data and deterministic outcomes. Organizations report the benefits in terms of costs, speed and error reduction leading to higher ROIs, precisely explaining the popularity of RPA.

At its infancy, RPA was expensive and hence really the technology for larger organizations. However, just as any other technology takes off, RPA has become more and more affordable over time and has broken its barriers to entry into the Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). While SMEs might be constrained in terms of resources and funds, their flexibility to adopt new technology quickly makes them a better candidate for RPA. According to PwC White Paper, Organize your Future with Robotic Process Automation, “Besides the cost and efficiency advantages, a couple of RPA’s greatest benefits are often overlooked: its ease of deployment and the speed and agility it confers on the enterprise”. SMEs tend to take advantage of RPA through lower costs of implementation alongside their agility to adapt swiftly and hence realize the timely benefits of automation. One can argue that SMEs have a competitive advantage in implementing RPA solutions with negligible delays due to size, complexity and cumbersome administrative procedures faced by larger organizations.

RPA enables businesses to mimic a variety of repetitive tasks that are otherwise carried out by humans in an organization. RPA releases human workforce from repetitive and error prone tasks to be more creative and engage in cognitive problem solving.  As SMEs depend upon a smaller workforce, RPA allows to leverage on a more productive team of employees. With RPA bots working around the clock, there is no downtime for the processes and hence better time and operations management. The implementation and migration to RPA is straightforward as RPA tools interact easily with existing infrastructures, leading to integration with legacy systems completely trouble-free.

RPA tools are usually based on Graphic User Interface (GUI) that connects applications and tasks. This kind of user interface again favors SMEs as users access various functions by single clicks and/or drag-and-drop options with no programming requirements. GUI allows easy switch between automatic and manual modes, transparent bot actions and convenient diagnostics. Since these actions do not require any programming and automation can be carried out by users without involvement of IT, SMEs do not require on-premise IT teams.

SMEs can choose, from the RPA suite, not only what and when to automate but also, how to automate. SMEs can choose a service model i.e., Robotic Process Automation as a Service (RPAaaS) that further slashes the modifications required to current business systems. RPAaaS is a cloud-based subscription solution that uses artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies to help automate vital tasks over the internet. The SMEs enjoy lower initial infrastructure costs and other costs of implementation, lower liabilities and easier exit options. In addition, the automation selection options are flexible and driven by the customer; and implementation is agile and can be managed in multiple phases. Using web-based solutions, SMEs do not need an IT team to handle on-premise hardware and software. For processes where data discretion or regulatory compliances are pertinent, bots can be made to work locally. This hybrid solution provides extra layer of safety and flexibility given that the bots need to be developed only once for both cloud and local applications. Hence, with a hybrid RPA, most organizational issues are resolved!

To sum up, SMEs stand to benefit greatly from RPA. SMEs find it more costly to have their small workforce do less meaningful and more mundane tasks. Through RPA, SMEs can get their employees do more meaningful jobs more productively. In the age of competition, SMEs can stay on top by using efficient workflows and effective systems leading to higher ROIs that come through both efficiency and resilience.