Innovation and changeRPA uptake in local authorities lagging behind, report says

RPA uptake in local authorities lagging behind, report says

RPA adoption will grow in local government but lags behind the rest of the public sector

GlobalData, the data and insight provider, has published a ‘Technology Market Update on RPA in Local Government’ which explores how Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is currently deployed across UK local government and the opportunities for suppliers in this market.

Robert Stoneman, analyst at GlobalData responsible for the report says: “Residents increasingly expect public services to be delivered via digital channels. Automation 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.”

In a recent GlobalData survey, 45% of councils responded that they were not ready for RPA. This compares to just 22% for the rest of the public sector. Similarly, just 12% of local authorities surveyed are currently deploying RPA compared to 30% of public sector organisations more widely.

Other key findings include:

  • Only a handful of local authorities have already deployed RPA, most via an initial pilot phase. However, there is a growing awareness of the technology across the sector
  • The key driver for RPA adoption is to improve services, for instance, via faster delivery and greater accuracy
  • Key challenges remain: the sometimes-prohibitive cost of implementing RPA, lack of skills and knowledge about the technology, and difficulties implementing the technology across a complex range of council services
  • RPA adoption will grow, if somewhat slowly, in the coming years. It will continue to lag behind the rest of the public sector as a whole
  • Services using RPA will increase to encompass a range of back-office processes. However, there will remain hard limits for those that require or are best served by human intervention.

Local authorities lag behind

The study also revealed that local authorities remain well behind the rest of the public sector on the adoption of RPA.

When asked what the reason for this is, Stoneman replied by saying: “The cost of implementing RPA remains a barrier. It doesn’t just require the implementation of the technology, but also a fundamental rethink of how services are delivered to ensure they are standardised and rules-based.

“Many councils also lack staff with the skills and knowledge to implement the technology without external support, which can be costly. Difficulties arising from the wide range of services they provide and, subsequently, the complexity of their ICT estates are also a factor.”

Stoneman concluded: “Local authorities have used automation in some form for several years. Solutions such as automated call handling and self-service platforms are now commonplace. New forms of automation are emerging to supplement these. RPA can improve service quality and the time it takes to develop and improve services. It can also reduce costs, give staff the opportunity to focus on tasks that add real value and help drive citizens towards digital channels.”

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