The public sector isn't renowned for its flexibility or speed. Quite the opposite in fact. Yet, despite the massive pressure it has faced in the last 12 months, it has shown itself to be innovative, resilient and open to change.
This is because the pandemic highlighted areas ripe for disruption and forced people to look at technology to maintain operational consistency. There are many examples in the NHS alone - from the ability to spin-up and build the Nightingale Hospitals to the vaccine roll-out, which has received almost unanimous praise in its speed and efficiency. But it’s not time to pop the champagne corks. The public sector has always been under pressure to control costs and deliver value for money but, in the current climate of COVID and our subsequent socioeconomic recovery this has never been more critical and will be a narrative of the post-pandemic era.
Bang for buck
Getting bang for buck in the public sector is going to force the theme of digital transformation and automation in particular - even more than we’re seeing today. The private sector has already demonstrated its ability to decrease costs and create better outcomes and automation can help all corners of the public sector scale, improve productivity, and improve citizen satisfaction.
Yet deployment of automation in the public sector is in its infancy relative to its potential. It should come as no surprise to learn that EY research found 85% of admin jobs in the public sector are most exposed to automation technology - the highest. Finance was at 80% and the third was customer service at 65%.
Power of orchestration
An increasing number of organisations are turning to robotic process automation (RPA) to handle mundane, rules based administrative processes. Some have even begun to look at raising the game with orchestration - not just automating tasks, but getting the varying components of automation to interact with each other. Indeed these businesses are now looking at process orchestration as a means of combining the best of human and automation and therefore reducing the time, admin, and financial resources even further.
And we don’t need to look far to find opportunities for its deployment; Universal Credit and benefits and tax calculations at a national government level, local government permit applications and incident reporting, everything from fixed penalty processing to crime reporting in the police, discharge processing and outpatient clinic outcomes in healthcare and admissions and enrolments, student finance management and course assessment data handling in education. These are just a few of the possible roles where the power of orchestration in the public sector is yet to be realised.
When it comes to power in the public sector, it would be remiss not to call out the members and participants of our W(h)ine Club. Our regular bi-weekly call has been something of a revolution during the last 10 months, bringing together people from different and diverse backgrounds to collectively look at challenges within NHS and Charitable Trusts in relation to the pandemic and how to solve them
We’ve heard from Dr. Iain Hennessey, Director of Innovation at the World famous Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool discussing everything from moving staff and patients in response to the pandemic to the safe application and removal of face masks using disposable burger boxes. Eamonn Sullivan, who was seconded from his job to act as chief nurse at Nightingale - and has since been seconded to run Test & Trace for the Department of Health - talked about the speed and process of getting those projects off the ground. We've heard from leading psychologists to elite sports professionals on subjects ranging from broken processes to mental health and resilience. Sometimes, there's an opportunity to apply technology and other times it's simply about learning from a new perspective.
It’s helping to make changes at the highest levels of the public sector but we can do more. If you’d like to join one of our sessions as a guest or speaker, please drop firstname.lastname@example.org a line.
Together, we can build a future proofed public sector we can be proud of.