As this RFP describes West Lothian Council have begun the process of investigating and procuring a solution for RPA – Robotic Process Automation.
In 2019 the Digital Office defined asked Scottish local authorities to advance their work on this field, as part of their DO2.0 Business Plan, to make plans for the procurement of services needed to take their work forward.
Under digital council, the organisation said that the priority is to push local governments to develop the use of RPA and AI alongside Scotland Excel, the Scottish government’s Centre of Procurement Expertise. The organisation is calling for the local authorities and the procurement body to adopt a common approach for buying and implementation, and for creating a pipeline of common business challenges.
Low Code RPA
RPA is an innovation that can be considered hand in hand with another exploding trend: ‘Low Code’ development.
The core building block of digital transformation is the digitization and automation of manual business processes, and to date this has mainly been achieved through software development. It’s a perfectly sound approach but the challenge is that it requires technical skills that are relatively rare, and involves a quite intense and slow moving life-cycle.
Low Code and RPA tackle this issue by abstracting software development to a higher, visual-driven interface, that even non-programmers can use to create new applications. There are a myriad of vendors quickly populating this space, such as Outsystems among many others, who are enjoying a rapid growth in adoption by Local Government to achieve their Digital Government goals, such as Worcestershire County Council.
Combined with RPA this evolution empowers organizations to create automations and applications, much quicker and for lower costs. Much of the Digital Government work the public sector needs to undertake is a large volume of small-scale repetitive workflow form processes, ideal for these tools rather than a custom software project.
Integrating Low Code into the SDLC
They don’t replace existing software practices, indeed they will succeed best when integrated into the organizations existing practices and life-cycle.
As Edinburgh-based DevOps expert 2i describes in this blog, low code is still code that needs tested and a key risk would be to allow their deployment to become stovepipes that are isolated from the organizations quality and deployment procedures.
It also highlights how major adopters of these new technologies in Scotland include Social Security Scotland, awarding a £9m contract to Deloitte to implement the Outsystems products, with a key objective being “to integrate with Social Security Scotland’s existing IT systems”.
The biggest challenge Scotland faces in achieving their Digital Government goals is the size of their total IT requirements, when you consider the full scope of it from small towns through national agencies, is much larger than the skilled developer base they have access to.
Low Code RPA offers the tools to address this issue by greatly expanding the pool of who can create the software they need.