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Neath Port Talbot Council

Transforming finance and legal departments through automation to reduce turn-around times, enable faster payments and improve service quality.

Challenge: Driving Meaningful Transformation In The Back-Office

As a busy local authority, Neath Port Talbot Council is faced with the task of continually enhancing the quality of its front and back-office services while creating new efficiencies and optimising employee resource.

The Council partnered with Arvato in 2018 to tackle this challenge within its HR function and implemented robotic process automation (RPA) technology, which cut the cost-per-transaction for several key processes by up to 95 per cent, enabling staff to focus more time on strategic, business-critical work.

To build on this success, the authority wanted to replicate the results across its finance and legal departments – two areas well-suited to the technology due to the high volume of repetitive, resource-intensive tasks.

Our RPA partnership with Arvato is enabling us to drive meaningful change in our back-office, while delivering efficiency savings. By reducing the time our teams need to spend on labour intensive administration tasks, it empowers them to spend more time on the more complex, judgement-based jobs where they can deliver real insights and value. Following the results of automation in our HR, and now finance and legal departments, we’ll now be looking at where else we can apply automation to drive more efficiencies in our operations

Ian Vaughan, Digital Services Manager at Neath Port Talbot Council

Working closely with Arvato, the Council designed and implemented an end-to-end digital automation solution. This was to significantly reduce the amount of staff resource required to handle legal and finance processes and reduce the cost of individual transactions, whilst improving outcomes for citizens and businesses by speeding up payments and responses to Environmental Information Requests (EIRs).

Arvato deployed its ProcessAutomate solution, which combines its public sector expertise with intelligent automation technology from software specialists Blue Prism, to create an agile, virtual workforce able to mimic human processing of repetitive, labour-intensive processes.

Following a series of joint workshops to identify processes, the Council developed one solution to handle EIRs for the Land Charges team and worked closely with Arvato to support finance in making prompt payments to citizens and suppliers through its ‘Faster Payments’ process.

The Council must answer EIR requests but the service is free of charge, meaning it doesn’t generate revenue to cover its internal costs. ProcessAutomate – which was introduced alongside a new web form to standardise requests – addresses this reducing the amount of team resource required for each response from 20 minutes to just five.

The technology automatically receives requests over email and enters data into the back-office system, reverting any complex requests to a council officer for checking and processing.

Meanwhile, the ‘Faster Payments’ solution automatically inputs data into the authority’s finance systems and conducts verification.

Success: Delivering Significant Time And Cost Savings

Improving Efficiencies

  • RPA has reduced the cost per EIR transaction by 95% and reduced the cost per transaction for ‘Faster Payments’ by 91%

Saving Time While Maintaining Consistent, Auditable Delivery

  • EIR processing time has been significantly reduced, freeing-up 500 hours in the Land Charge team annually
  • Both solutions have enabled Neath Port Talbot Council to direct its valuable human resources towards more critical functions requiring complex decision-making
  • The time taken to process ‘Faster Payments’ has been cut by half
  • RPA is fully auditable, ensuring compliance with all statutory and legal regulations
  • All processes are delivered with 100% accuracy, further reducing the time team members need to spend addressing errors and improving the quality of service offered to citizens

Enhancing Employee Satisfaction

  • The solution has delivered improved employee experience and satisfaction by shouldering repetitive tasks and freeing up employee time to focus on more complex, varied and rewarding work.

Read Our HR Case Study

We’re enabling the Council’s HR team to do more for less, cutting transaction costs by up to 95% using automation.