With the news that the UK Government is set to spend £1.3m on staff for manual processing due to Universal Credit IT delays, Redwood Founder and CEO, Tijl Vuyk, explains why the public sector needs to automate processes and move away from costly manual fixes to increase efficiency in the long run
I was surprised when I read the Computer Weekly news that the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) must employ more than 100 staff to conduct manual checks. They’re being brought in because the IT system for Universal Credit suffers from “delays in developing”. As a result of these delays, the staff will now manually review mountains of data about the welfare benefits cap at a cost of £1.3m.
While an increase in manual checks may seem like an effective solution, it dramatically increases the likelihood of human error, which could, in turn, fuel further delays. It’s also slow and, of course, expensive. This is a trap I’ve seen other organizations fall into before.
The success of the Universal Credit scheme hinges on having up-to-the-minute, accurate data on claimants and their applications. As such, the DWP should never rely on manual patches that could hinder the successful completion of the project. There is an alternative, less risky and more efficient solution that is quick to deploy and much simpler to manage. The DWP should make the most of the resources it has already by automating processes to increase efficiency in the long-term. They shouldn’t procrastinate.
A New Approach
The DWP, or any government agency, should follow the lead of successful businesses that automate processes enterprise-wide with less manual effort. dunnhumby is a great example. This company helps retailers and brands analyze data in order to improve customer experiences and build loyalty. dunnhumby successfully automates a complex array of manual application, data and infrastructure processes to better serve its clients.
Today, these activities require minimal user interaction to run reliably and accurately. Clients get the information they need in real time. Staff are no longer tied down to repetitive manual tasks—like sifting through piles of data. Instead, they are free to focus on analyzing the information. With automation dunnhumby provides customers what they want in a way that’s sustainable and scalable.
As with private companies, the public sector has to innovate. Manual fixes for repetitive tasks are risky, costly, inefficient and unsustainable. It’s just another way to put off addressing the real problem. When organizations automate standardized processes, they take the best possible route to reduce error, use staff wisely, accelerate processes and improve efficiency.