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Torfaen Council to spend £71,000 and test ‘robotic automation’ to improve its customer services

Torfaen Council is carrying out a 12-month pilot project to test how some tasks can be automated to improve ‘customer experience’ and provide better services.

A council report describes how ‘Robotic Process Automation’ (RPA) can be used to:

  • Automate rule-based tasks that are manual eg data entry
  • Free up staff time
  • Improve speed and efficiency as the automated systems work 24-hours day
  • Be an affordable alternative to creating products that link up different systems. The report says that ‘depending on the software in question they can be expensive

The £71,000 will fund a temporary 12-month officer (total cost £35,000) and the cost of the development work on the two identified processes (£36,000). The money is coming from the Information Technology Team’s (ICT) reserves.

The two potential projects

The ICT team has identified two areas to take part in the trial:

  • Migration of emails required to be retained outside of retention parameters (e.g. HR)
  • Automation of data entry tasks in Social Care and Education

The report raises a risk that the benefits of using RPA may not ‘realise the benefits to the customer
experience and operational efficiency anticipated’. But this is why a 12-month project is being carried out to ‘inform an evidence base for any longer term investment’.

If they can’t recruit someone to the temporary role the ICT team will look at agency staff or other professional services.

During the 12-months the officer will also identify other cases to automate while carrying out checks to measure the business benefits.

The decision was approved by Councillor Sue Morgan, executive member for resources.

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Torfaen Council to spend £71,000 and test ‘robotic automation’ to improve its customer services

a person coding on a laptop
Torfaen Council plans to run 12-month project to test automation on a number of tasks