Back Office Technology is key for enhancing public sector productivity

Big Ben and Westminster Bridge at sunset, London, UK

For anyone who’s worked in public sector transformation, archaic operating systems built around static hierarchal structures and siloed teams that simply aren’t responsive or efficient enough will be a familiar concept.

That being said, and to the credit of those involved, some areas of the UK public sector have made huge leaps forward in recent years; from largely automated front-end systems at the DVLA and DWP to world-leading biometric systems at the border; but there is still a way to go…

The good news is, in line with the government-wide digital strategy, the UK public sector is set to transform many of its legacy systems, with its strategy focusing on a few key areas:

  • Improving citizen facing services,
  • Improving departmental performance and driving efficiencies,
  • More agile change governance, better suited to IT projects,
  • Modernising workplaces and ways of working,
  • Modernising the approach to skills and career development.

However, research shows that the public sector is not fully embracing the potential for technology to enhance service delivery. As a result, it is performing poorly in comparison to both the UK private sector and some of our neighbour governments.

Embracing emerging technologies wouldn’t just significantly impact the output and quality of work, it changes the organisational culture and paves the way for the future upgrades, systems, and processes that the UK public sector has already begun working towards.

Back-Office Technology

Technologies such as automation, robotics and machine intelligence are already being piloted and rolled-out in suitable pockets of government with resounding success, but the lessons learned by the private sector are slowly becoming apparent as the scalability of automation outside of the “low-hanging fruit” activities hits a wall. Automation should come later; creating a unified service needs to become a priority. Once a common basis has been established, automation becomes a force-multiplier, bringing phenomenal benefits to both processing performance and cost efficiency.

Transforming business models from cumulative, task-owned, and paper-heavy, to being linear, end-to-end unified processing ecosystem, with transactions and tasks modelled, monitored and managed on the basis of ‘live’ data not only eradicates common mistakes but it makes business processes smoother and leaner, improving end-customer delivery.

Through Back-Office Workforce Optimisation platforms, some of the UK’s leading financial institutions, including the Student Loans Company, have made significant cost savings by improving efficiency and visibility, improving the customer journey, and sustaining the benefits of change. Emerging technologies such as true back-office workforce optimisation solutions enable ongoing, continuous improvement opportunities for individuals within an organisation, as well as the organisation itself.

Surely, with technological innovation high on the agenda, building an infrastructure that enhances the customer journey, whilst improving employee performance and making them more skilled is the answer to eradicating archaic, sluggish, expensive habits.

Top-performing companies train people so that they’re part of a shared service; everyone is working to a common goal and with cross-training, work can be allocated to appropriately skilled employees. This will lead to a more engaged and effective workforce and make significant cost savings by eliminating any back-office activity overlap.

Enhanced Productivity

A workforce optimisation tool is utilised to accommodate a variety of business requirements across the organisation, to handle combined workloads, streamline processes, allocate the work appropriately and ultimately to ensure that customer service meets expectations.

Through automation and workforce optimisation, it has proven common for institutions to benefit from as much as 30% efficiency improvement and upwards of a 50% reduction in customer complaints. Importantly for the public sector, it’s not just the bottom line and budgets that are being affected, benefits are being felt company wide, from workforce satisfaction to eradication of mistakes and compliance with regulation and best-practice.

By providing managers and leaders with visibility of employee performance at a granular level, skills and performance gaps can be highlighted and rectified in an efficient and effective manner. This ensures that employees are nurtured, frustrations are addressed, and their skills are constantly enhanced. They also have more of an understanding about their own contribution to the overall company goals and, where resources need to be redistributed, decisions can be made intelligently and without conflict.

It is a hallmark of a good back-office optimisation solution that business leaders can focus less on the system and more on their people. This ensures that staff are adequately trained to meet the multiple service level agreements that are key to maintaining a high level of customer service. It eliminates cherry picking of tasks and avoids delays in processing caseloads.

Key for the Public Sector

As automation has proven, intelligent technologies don’t necessarily mean job cuts. It encourages upskilling, company growth (thus job potential) and a significantly better customer service. In turn, this makes private companies more competitive, or in a public sector context, significantly improves the services that can be provided and resiliency to unforeseen, high-media-profile events that put strain on both public service providers and the ministers who govern them.

Whilst we can’t predict what will come next, events of the last few years have shown the world that having an agile and forward thinking public sector, one that can maintain a world-leading service whilst responding to crisis, is not only desirable, it’s essential for the prosperity of both governments and of the nation.

Here at Business Systems (UK) Ltd we have a track record for improving business processes for large, back office organisations and as a favoured service supplier to government.

Want to hear more? Get in touch or download our SLC case study.

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