Are we nearly there yet?

The local government automation journey

Automation has been on the local government agenda for several years now and we all have a pretty good understanding of what it is. Or at least we believe we do. But does it have the same meaning to everyone?

At Govtech, we are very passionate about it; after all, this is what we do – automate business processes. After providing automation services to local government for over a decade, it is clear to us, that various people interpret automation differently. Why? Simply because their understanding is formed by different experiences. The narrative around end-to-end automation is deliberately vague which frequently leads to it being oversold and underdelivered to local authorities. The major issue is that those experiences often set false expectations and aspirations for automation, and they are too low! And that’s where the confusion begins!

Some councils are still unsure if full automation of ‘Moves’ in Council Tax Revenues is possible. We fully automate over half a million Council Tax Move-In, Move-Out and Move-Within transactions every year for over 40 councils. Do you believe that we can do it safely & securely, or are you sceptical too?


Have you got any kind of automation implemented in your authority? Are you satisfied with the solution and what it delivers? Can you trust and measure that it does what was promised or does it still require a lot of manual intervention? Or are you just looking at the options which are available right now? Although automation has never been a major priority it’s now quickly becoming one.

If so, what is driving your need for automation? The need to make savings? Staff shortages: inability to recruit the number of people that want to work in local government while skilled, experienced staff retire? Or is it driven by the corporate digital strategy?

Whatever your need is, any automation must be comprehensive and in depth otherwise it won’t meet any of those needs. It’ll simply be an investment that doesn’t provide a return. The full scope of the automation today is not just the breadth of automation, the range of different transactions that can be automated but also how deep that automation goes.


What Govtech means by automation is end-to-end automation of a business process so that it is completed, without officer intervention.
It is not just loading data into a system and creating a work item that an officer must check or manually complete.

In the end-to-end automation the transactions are fully completed without any officer intervention and with guaranteed outcomes. Case officers intervene only if a business rule triggers this. A document that shows the outcome of the automated transaction (not just the details entered by the customer for the expert to manually process) is generated and auto indexed into your DMS. If your business rules do trigger an intervention, the service assigns the document a priority level of High, Medium or Low and deposits it in the relevant work queue.

The process is seamless and provides citizens with a clean, straight-forward experience, giving confidence in your digital capabilities.

How does Govtech achieve automation?

We do that by targeting high transactional processes. Consider the work that comes into the office daily and the high transaction areas; regardless of how complex they are, if the volumes are significant, automating such processes is beneficial.

For example, Govtech processes millions of transactions each year in Revenues area, ranging from straightforward Direct Debits & Sole Occupier Discounts to the most complex Household Moves and everything related to those changes, such as discounts that need to be awarded, vacant periods, financial refunds, credit transfers etc. There are also different ways that you get notified about a household move including huge numbers of transactions from landlords, local agents or large RSLs housing associations. All these can be automated.

Discounts Review is another area which is primed for automation and one of our most recent processes is Exemptions and Discounts. This single, highly intuitive web form replaces 20-30 different application forms making it considerably easier for citizens to obtain the help that they need. It also lets the claimant to upload required evidence and allows the council to provide the evidence checklist if any of the proofs are not available at the time of submission.

The list goes on: Payment Arrangements, Student Discount, Requests for Copy Bills, e-Bills – our digital automation services take care of all day-to-day work in the Revenues offices. Although certain transactions are not included in that list, their numbers are too small for automation to have much of an impact.


Automation is not something that happens overnight and it doesn’t come easy. There is an agenda for automation; for staff to onboard and embrace the digital transformation, and for citizens to adopt a new way of transacting. This takes time and it requires collaborative working, both, internally and with suppliers that you partner with to deliver automation.

Govtech follows a programme of continuous improvement. We believe that working in partnership is the key. We work together with every one of our customers to continually enhance automation, increase their automation rates, and ensure that they get to see benefits that come with it; whether it is to free up skilled resources and focus their time and expertise on vulnerable customers who really need their assistance, improve customer’s experience or to make savings.

More than 40 councils are currently using our hosted services including large city councils, unitaries, small districts – the service is scalable, it doesn’t really matter, automation will work whatever size authority you are. These councils use our webforms to collect the data and our business process automation service behind them - the core of our offering.

In Revenues local authorities should be able to achieve up to 80% automation of the work associated with processing Revenues on-line transactions.

We are working hard to get every of our sites to the point where we’ve probably reached the optimum level of automation based on what every process can automate. Not all our long-term customers began with automation levels around 80% when they first joined us. It is an ongoing programme of improvement and the only way to accomplish that is by regularly reviewing the statistics, benchmarking them against similar authorities and sharing best practices. It’s challenging to do it alone. It is far easier to do so through service reviews between the supplier and local council. Read more about that in one of our recent blogs – ‘Lies, Damn Lies or Govtech Statistics’

It is the journey that brings us to the desired automation level.


What sets us apart is that we provide an automation service to which you subscribe to. Nobody is required to log in to a Govtech system or application. There is no new technology to buy or software to master. Nobody needs to learn how to use a new system; instead, they just need to get used to the old system doing much more.

The service simply resides between the citizens’ front office system (via which transactions are submitted) and your back-office Revs & Bens system (NEC, Capita, Civica), and DMS. The content from published on your website forms comes via our services, we load them into your R&B system automating the transactions and we generate & index the pdf rendition of the transaction into a relevant work tray in your DMS or straight into archive.

We’re very much an automation service, not a licensed product vendor and it does make a difference.

We also report the automation rates back to you and explain when things are not automated - why they’re not automated, which business rules you’ve set up prevent automation and allow you to compare that with other councils to determine what they’re doing differently, identify which policies they’ve changed to optimise the automation and whether you could also make any adjustments to get the higher rates.

But that’s not all!

With Govtech webCAPTURE YOU are completely in control of what gets automated by setting the business rules.

There is no element of chance, risk or loss of control in automating transactions. Nothing gets 'accidentally' automated. We really want to get that message across: Govtech webCAPTURE gives you complete control over the business rules that determine what gets automated and what triggers your High, Medium and Low priority interventions. By setting the business rules you will only automate things where you would not wish to intervene, where you would be happy for the transaction to go through. For example, how far in the future you might allow a move to be automatically processed, or whether you might allow a third party to set up a direct debit.


With all that said, allow me to return to my initial question: where are you on your digital transformation journey? Does your current solution meet your expectations or are you realising that you have to intervene too much? Do you know how deep that automation goes and what your automation rates are?

Govtech unique solutions deliver proven, predictable outcomes. We know what maximum level of automation you will ever be able to safely achieve. Can any other supplier tell you this?

The concept of accessing services online is no longer revolutionary. People expect to be able to serve themselves online via well-designed services which are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But their digital experience is defined not only by how easy and convenient it is to submit a request, but by what happens next. The automated processing of their service requests in legacy back-end systems to complete the full business process, without officer intervention, that’s the transformational part of customer's experience!




We’ve said it time and time again, automation is a journey, not a destination; a journey that is best shared with a partner who's an expert in this field.

Let us be your trusted partner on your digital transformation journey. Talk to us and discover what automation level you can get with our full, end-to-end digital process automation services.