Making use of robotic process automation at Medway Council

By Patrick Knight | 25 January 2021

Medway is a vibrant cultural hub at the heart of the Thames Gateway in Kent. The local council covers a large area - including the towns of Rochester, Rainham, Chatham, Gillingham and Strood – providing a range of services that include education, social care, and council tax and benefits to almost 300,000 people.

The Revenues and Benefits team was in a period of transition. Our contract with one of our computer systems suppliers was coming to an end, and it was immediately obvious that whichever new supplier we opted for, a large-scale data migration was needed.  The migration of 6 million files, each containing up to 40 pages, was required - an enormous task that would have ordinarily taken one team member 30 years to complete.

Our solution, developed with digital transformation specialists NDL, utilised Robotic Process Automation (RPA), enabling our team to save 70,000 administrative hours and complete the project in just two months. Most recently, it has also enabled us to quickly facilitate the distribution of COVID-19 Business Grants worth £36.5 million to local companies.

The Revenues and Benefits data migration project was designed to be compatible with GDPR regulations. We took the decision to dispose of files older than six years, unless they were required for an ongoing case. A control folder was set up that was programmed to run each document through a layer of rules to determine if it needed migrating or not, further reducing time.

A digital workforce comprising of more than 40 robots operated around the clock to complete the work and the process enabled the team to deep clean data, significantly improving quality and accuracy.

The Revenues and Benefits team achieved impressive time saving as a result of using RPA technology in preparation for a system update.

The success of our project was celebrated at the NDL Community Awards, a national awards programme that recognises the best use of transformational technologies with social purpose. I am proud to say that Medway Council was awarded Digital Project of the Year in testament to our digital-first approach that has enabled our team to overcome major administrative challenges.

This project has not only saved the council thousands of hours, but it has also allowed the team to achieve a substantial return on investment by utilising the RPA toolkit elsewhere within the council. We achieved best value by using the same technology across multiple business areas.

Since undertaking the project, our collaborative work with NDL has been used to advise several local authorities elsewhere in the country on how they can approach similar and even larger migration projects.

We are continuing to design and build new solutions to meet a variety of complex challenges that build on an RPA toolkit set up by NDL. Access to data enables us to ensure our services and teams are equipped with the information we need.

Our innovative use of automation technology has enabled us to achieve a volume of work that would have been virtually impossible to deliver otherwise. By pushing forward with digital transformation, we are now better able to use our time and skills to provide the best possible services to residents in our region.

Download the full case study to learn more about Medway Council’s award-winning project.

Patrick Knight is head of revenues and benefits at Medway Council

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