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Breaking Through Bottlenecks: Highlights from a Survey of the Public Sector

Date: September 6, 2018
Author: Jeff Nott
Category:Digital Transformation

I’m excited to share the results of the “Breaking Through Bottlenecks” survey, conducted by Alfresco in collaboration with GovNewsDirect.

The survey polled 724 Public Sector employees in the U.K., comprising a mixture of decision makers, influencers and implementers of their organization’s digital transformation.

Our objective was to learn why bottlenecks occur in Public Sector processes—and how they can be overcome.

Read on for highlights or check out the full survey report here.

Need for Efficiency Drives Digital Transformation

The Public Sector has embraced digital transformation, with 45% of respondents saying they’ve made good progress and 44% reporting modest gains. Top drivers of digital transformation include better service delivery (81%), cost reduction (76%), security (53%) and GDPR compliance (51%). Efficiency is the #1 driver, selected by 89% of respondents. The focus on efficiency isn’t surprising since more than 30% of respondents report that bottlenecks regularly impede internal processes.


Lack of Workflow Automation

A major source of bottlenecks are the methods Public Sector organizations use to manage core processes. Fewer than 50% of respondents rely on workflow methods to ensure effective, auditable business processes, and just 30% routinely automate day-to-day work. Bottlenecks often occur when employees perform repetitive, manual tasks, such as data entry or forms processing. At a time when the Public Sector must do more with less, automating these labor-intensive activities is a pressing concern.


Over-Dependence on Email

Another source of bottlenecks is the way organizations share data. The majority of organizations in our survey use shared file systems (80%) and email (78%) to transfer files internally. 88% rely on email to share documents with third-party organizations. When core workflows depend on employees manually reviewing and actioning dozens of emails daily, it’s easy to see how bottlenecks arise. And despite the widespread use of file-sharing systems, 66% of respondents say it’s at least moderately difficult to find the information they need—which also leads to inefficiencies.


Inefficient Management of FOI Requests and SARS

Another area of concern is how bottlenecks affect data handling and compliance, especially in response to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests and Subject Access Requests (SARs). The majority of organizations surveyed (65%) still manage FOI requests with email or paper—even though 84% receive as many as 100 requests per month. Only 7% of those polled say they’ve adopted any kind of menu-driven automated process to respond to SARs. These manually-intensive approaches place a considerable administrative burden on short-staffed Public Sector organizations. What’s more, GDPR is expected to increase the number of SARs and FOI requests.


Using BPM to Break Through Bottlenecks

Our survey makes clear the need for business process management (BPM) solutions in the Public Sector. Organizations can break through bottlenecks by using BPM software to:

  • Automate manual tasks and standardize workflows
  • Reduce the reliance on email for information sharing
  • Integrate with file-sharing systems so they can be used more efficiently
  • Streamline the management of SARs, FOI requests and other compliance obligations

Eliminating bottlenecks removes a huge constraint on Public Sector service delivery and can result in significant savings in time and costs.

Brexit Adds Impetus for Process Automation

When asked to name the processes that require transformation, respondents identified everything from recruitment and on-boarding, to procurement and payments, to case management, housing and adult care. The diversity of these applications underscores the value of a scalable, customizable BPM solution that supports a “digital by design” Public Sector. Britain’s imminent exit from the EU is another incentive for automation. 58% of respondents expect to re-design business processes post-Brexit and 13% are already implementing changes.


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