Too many manual business processes can bog down public sector organisations and the people who work in them. As a new year begins, reducing manual business processes and replacing them with more automation, should remain a component of the IT strategy of any public sector department – to enable an increase in productivity, to encourage employee engagement and improve citizen satisfaction.
Unsurprisingly, citizens have quite an appetite for automation in public services as OpenSky’s survey findings (conducted by Censuswide in 2020), revealed that 77% of Irish citizens believe automation would enhance the quality of service within the public sector. 56% of respondents said they would prefer to communicate with public sector organisations via app or web and some of the main benefits of online public services were cited as faster response times and increased efficiency.
It’s Time to Harness the Opportunities
There are many reasons why an organisation may have not automated their business processes including limited resources to manage a digital transformation project, some business processes may not be suitable for automation, or in some cases, legacy systems are to blame as they don’t integrate well with more modern applications. Whatever the reason is, there are always ways to manage the challenges ahead and for IT departments who are judged on their introduction of innovative solutions - driving continued innovation within the organisation, is typically a priority.
The good news is, any manual tasks that are rules based can be automated and these tasks include data entry and verification, linking citizen information to internal or external databases, or copying and pasting between back office systems, Microsoft excel and other applications, and citizen facing web portals. Automating these tasks isn’t solely defined by saving staff time or improving citizen services (though these things matter), but it also boasts significant cost savings returning a fast ROI.
McKinsey research found that automation of 50-75% of tasks can lead to:
Reduction in processing time of: 50-60%
Increase in operational efficiencies of 20-35%
Furthermore, according to Forrester Total Economic Impact™ Study Commissioned by Microsoft October 2019, 70% Reduced application development cost and effort with Power Apps and Power Automate.
In Cork City Council, they reported in 2017, how rolling out the Choice Based Lettings (CBL) online portal promoted choice (by placing the housing applicant at the centre of the lettings process), which increased housing supply transparency, and enabled housing staff in the council, to provide a more supportive and advisory role to housing applicants.
The 5 Key Steps to Reducing Manual Business Processes
- Update legacy systems – Eliminate the reliance on legacy systems and make way for more opportunities to digitally transform and reduce the reliance on time-consuming business processes that are usually paper-based. If there are multiple legacy systems in place already, then finding the right automation partner with expertise in identifying and defining the automation you need and planning development with minimal business disruption, will be paramount.
- Identify rules-based processes – Consider many of the typical rules-based processes that could be automated and talk to staff about the amount of time they spend on these tasks to develop a strong business case for decision makers to review. During these planning stages, IT leaders need to identify which employees, processes, and citizens will be affected, and collaborate with managers to support staff from inception right through to implementation.
- Automate repetitive tasks – Once the rules-based tasks are identified it is time to automate them through a suite of emerging low-code automation technologies. Crucially, there are several ways to automate and the most successful projects are ones that have been well-planned and are scalable to grow with the organisation as needed.
- Create a digital workforce - Creating a digital workforce which works alongside your human workforce is a smart decision especially with so many innovative solutions including;
- Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which is an emerging, cost-effective technology that automates repetitive, manual tasks that waste your staff's time. RPA works 24/7, with 100% accuracy and it is 4x faster than a human worker.
- Power Automate enables organisations to quickly create workflows for business solutions, freeing time to allow staff to work on more complex problems and value-added work. Like any Microsoft application, Power Automate can be integrated with Outlook, Dynamics 365 or SharePoint making it an ideal option for organisations that already use these applications. As Power Automate reduces the volume of time-consuming, monotonous tasks in the workplace which are prone to mistakes, organisations can achieve; 100% accuracy, data consistency and maintain compliance.
- Dynamics 365 is a set of intelligent business applications that helps you run your entire business and deliver greater results through predictive, AI-driven insights. Retain your business and citizen data in one place—across hundreds of sources for a single, 360-degree view of your organisation. Its single source of information seamlessly shares data throughout your organisation – allowing businesses to harness that information and insights and optimise it for better outcomes.
5. Create online portals and mobile apps for citizen services - Let the people control their own inputting of information with online portals and apps for critical citizen services. Cork City Council CBL’s portal reduced staff time in matching properties to housing applicants thus significantly reducing the length of time from "property ready" to "property occupied" to an average of 5 weeks.
Work smarter for a smarter nation – the benefits to citizens, staff and operations.
Continuing to rely on manual tasks to input information between systems will reduce your organisations opportunity to give citizens fast, convenient service and support. The tools exist to deliver operational efficiency by defining and implementing customised automation solutions that support specific business needs, solve complex business problems, drive growth and deliver a competitive edge in an increasingly challenging public sector landscape.
Work smarter for a smarter nation, and reap the rewards of business process innovation, right now.
OpenSky Data Systems is a dynamic, quality oriented and dedicated IT and consultancy solutions company. Founded in 2004, we operate from our headquarters in Kildare, Ireland as well as in our other offices in Poland & India.