RPA and Automation in the Public Sector

by AKOA on RPA 24 min
Employees at AKOA standing talking

As a player entering the global stage of digital Automation, we find it essential to prioritize the efficiency and quality of work we do for all our clients. While there is endless potential for digital Automation in every business industry, it can be especially beneficial for businesses in the public sector!

We are able to do some pretty great things for different public sector authorities and municipalities. Whether easing stress by handling large project errands or relieving thousands of employees of mundane tasks, the public sector has every reason to automate, not only for efficiency, but also for an improved work environment and attitude. We strongly encourage organizations like these to begin their journey in making everything outside of work as efficient as the work inside the office. While we are excited to begin an Automation journey with any public organization, we must meet certain requirements beforehand. For one, it is essential to ensure there are clearly established and agreed upon regulations for working with and integrating RPA. And with these regulations, we must show our own clear understanding and expertise in RPA and other related digital technologies. While it is easy to say one is a digital protege, we believe it is more important to show the stability and consistency of our work, rather than tell. 

Why our projects with public sector organizations last longer

When working with RPA, we make it our priority to perform to the best of our ability despite whether we are working with a private or public and organization or government authority like a national tax registry. Although we treat all our clients with the same diligence, we often find our work with public sector organizations to last longer. This is a result of them being limited by public legal regulations in which all their work must be documented and submitted. Therefore, private companies are normally ahead of those in the public sector, but that does not imply the public sector can’t keep up, especially if they implement our Automation services. One of the several reasons public organizations are drawn to Automation is because its goal is to reduce these time-consuming restrictions. For them, as for any company, our implementation of RPA and other machine learning technologies like AI and Chatbots can speed up the completion of daily processes. As we’ve always said, efficiency is our top priority! Another reason these companies choose to automate is if government or executive managers legally require regulations for processing times. And so, our services in Automation will handle company’s large excel tasks, making them more efficient while also relieving employees of tedious work. 

Motivators for RPA

While companies have several motivations for implementing RPA, we also have our own when it comes down to specifically working with public organizations and municipalities. Being able to streamline processes that produce efficient and successful results is very rewarding, especially when dealing with companies that affect us all individually outside the office. For example, as much as we love doing taxes, if we can reduce time and effort in dealing with this annual obligation, why not have at it? Our job becomes much less stressful when we know our technologies produce quick responses and direct us on the right path towards efficiency, especially in comparison to working with larger IT projects that never seem to end. While we love seeing our work as beneficial to all employees inside and outside the office, our greatest motivation for beginning a journey with a public sector organization is to build a progressive and trusting relationship. Robots are stereotypically thought of as reducing human interaction. However, our goal is to have these robots, if anything, strengthen our interactions with partners and clients so our Automation services and communication skills can prosper!  We don’t intend on simply disappearing once our work is done, but rather continue developing strong relations over time and procure reliability with our partners. We strive to do more than just automate. 

Challenges with RPA within Public Authorities and how to tackle them

Working with public organizations, while exciting, can also be challenging on both ends. Public authorities struggle with certain aspects private sector organizations don’t. As mentioned before, there may be many legal restrictions before automating in relation to the protection of company data, GDPR, and general time for processing. Public organizations also must deal with tasks like tax payments, license handling, or if dealing with land surveyors, geographic boundaries and information. There are very few, if any ready-made systems to help tackle these tasks. If there are, they have been built up and developed over a long period of time, meaning they are comprised of older and outdated systems and technologies that no longer keep up with the current pace of the business world! Since these solutions are outdated, they are difficult to develop, making processes both inefficient and inconvenient for end users and clients.
Another challenge the public sector may face is staff shortages, where they may need extra help and support from other services, ones we hope to provide! We come into play once these challenges arise! Our strongest recommendation is to implement RPA. Since RPA is built on top of other technologies, it requires very few, if any, systematic adjustments or developments (whereas other Automation technologies like APIs or other integrations may require this). The flexibility and speed of RPA development provides great opportunities for efficiently automating repetitive tasks, even if the systems are client specific. And of course, we strive to increase what many businesses prioritize: profit. RPA provides for very quick ROI (Return on Investment) especially considering it works around the clock. It is profitable to automate against systems that may be replaced in the future with newer ones. Overall, our work with RPA in this sector is very important and has the potential to simplify business operations. 
We strive to perform our best when implementing RPA, yet we always keep in mind that nobody is perfectWhen automating, we face our own challenges in working with public authorities. Automating around the clock can be tough, especially when attempting to get everyone on board the same Automation train. Additionally, working with robots means acknowledging their skills as well as their potential faults and developing them further to reduce these challenges. One of the obstacles we face is maintaining close contact with our clients. Often, business developers and project managerorder our robots from their company’s location, and so a distance is automatically created between the company and where the RPA developer is. For example, some municipalities may have developers sitting in other countries like Sweden. If so, what happens when the robot breaks down? This distance challenges us and the services we provide when trying to align with a company’s core values. While these challenges may be tough to tackle, we can learn a lot from them especially when automating within the public sector. Despite the distance, with patience, our main objective remains to build relationships with all our clients we interact with. 

Implementing RPA in an Established and Complex IT System

Another one of the greater challenges we face is implementing RPA into a public organization that already has an established and complex IT system. Many of these organizations believe implementing RPA may disturb and disrupt their IT systems and processes because it would have to be integrated it into their own software’s architecture. When implementing RPA, we must ensure we have permission to data, social security, and IT security. Certain businesses can be skeptical of releasing this information because they must make sure all their collected data is secure and not at risk for mistakes. However, with the proper resources, our pilot services have the capacity to work with these complex IT systems. We believe it is essential to have conversations and in-depth discussions about implementing RPA software to an already existing IT program because it ensures everyone is on the same page and avoids any potential misunderstandings. For our implementations to be successful, we must prioritize sharing our expertise and knowledge in RPA, so these organizations can be confident in their decisions regarding Automation and data protection. 

How to interpret Automation Trends

Having worked with several public municipalities, we have noticed certain trends associated with Automation and are excited to see what the future will bring. Public organizations are drawn to machine learning, artificial intelligence, and chatbots. While we agree these technologies are great additions to any organization, there may be legal obstacles or restrictions to regulate these practices, especially when data collection and GDPR are involved. Considering AI is an advantage for any business, we predict companies will focus on finding an applicable machine learning system for their existing core processes going forward. Companies will want chatbots that can answer more complex questions like “How is my process going?” without having to be redirected or unanswered. Public companies strive for efficiency and do so in the competition to be at the forefront of their industry. In terms of efficiency, we believe it would be great if these organization could work parallel on a broader platform, building up their centers of excellence (COE).
Others trends we predict to arise in the future involve the possibility to construct whole-automated chains and to use RPA technology to break away from locked and outdated systems from earlier decades like the 70’s and 80’s. However, this may not be a simple task considering there may still be valuable data and information in these older systems, in which these larger projects would require IT, RPA and other associated technologies. As mentioned in our Future of Automation blog post, we predict there to be a possibility of connecting data pools, RPA, and other AI technology, something not yet familiar in public sectors. These predictions are our best guesses and we are thrilled to see what technology will bring us! 

We are here to make an organization’s dream of Automation a reality! 

To begin, we find it important for public organizations and municipalities to establish their own process capabilities which will develop a framework for what the Automation process can achieve. For larger organizations, a lot of tasks and processes need to be automated to keep up with other businesses (especially those within the private sectorand by implementing RPA, efficiency can be spread quickly to all other sectors of the organization. We also encourage the collaboration between multiple municipalities because this can end in better and more effective results.  
Looking at the word Automation, we consider it a verb. It is what we do, and it is what we cherish. There is no shame in admitting we nerd out about working with Automation. However, what we care for most are the relationships we have built because of it, especially with organizations in the public sector. Automation takes time and patience, two essential aspects we have grown very accustomed to for the Automation journeys we share with our partners and clients! We automate in the public sector, not just to develop robots, but to develop relationships that benefit us all in and out of the workplace. If we show what we know, we provide reliability and treat every opportunity with equal and quality performance. We are here to make a difference! 
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