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Driving efficiency, saving time, and saving money – how automation can benefit the public sector

The 2023 Spring Budget depicted a further £21.6 billion in unannounced cuts to public services by 2027/28*. In line with this, we’ve seen technology budgets slashed across the sector, with NHS tech funding falling below the £1 billion mark**. As such, the public sector must find new and innovative ways to maintain the supply and quality of technology services despite cuts to funding.

The question begs, how can public sector entities strive to maintain the level of public services, with less overall resource? Automated testing could help address this problem by maximising resources and driving efficiencies without compromising on the quality of service. Investing in automated testing is a strategic move that can revolutionise software development processes, increase efficiency, provide time and monetary savings and improve software quality. For public sector organisations like the NHS, automation has been used to accelerate digital transformation projects that improve the delivery of care and patient outcomes.

What is automation?

Automation is the process of using software tools to execute tests on a website, application, system, or technology to test functionality, performance, or security. Automation allows for faster and more efficient testing processes; enabling businesses to identify defects quickly and accurately.

Automation can carry out repetitive and time-consuming tasks automatically and accurately, 24/7. Without manual intervention, you can reallocate your team’s resources, allowing them to dedicate their time and expertise to other tasks that require human creativity and judgment.

Automation benefits for the public sector

Speed: Automated tests can be executed simultaneously on multiple configurations, around the clock. Public entities often need to test and release updates and new features quickly to keep up with changing requirements. With automation, you can thoroughly and accurately test your software in a fraction of the time it would take compared to manual testing, enabling faster releases.

Compliance: Government agencies and public bodies often handle large and complex systems and databases. Many public systems and applications must adhere to strict regulatory and security requirements. Automated testing can help ensure that these systems remain in compliance with the necessary standards and regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance issues, and fostering public trust. What’s more, automated testing tools can generate detailed reports and logs, which can be valuable for audit and compliance purposes and demonstrate due diligence in adhering to regulations.

Consistency: Automated tests remove the element of human error by performing consistent and precise tests. Automation will execute the same test cases with the same data and parameters every time, reducing the chances of errors.

Cost Saving: While there is an initial investment in setting up automated testing frameworks and creating test scripts, the long-term cost savings are substantial compared to manual testing, which often requires a larger workforce and more time. Automated tests can be reused for regression testing, reducing the need for extensive manual testing with each release.

Around-the-clock testing: Automated tests can be scheduled to run at any time around the clock, even when your team is not actively working. This rapid feedback ensures that issues are identified and addressed quickly, much earlier in the lifecycle, preventing costly downtime or emergency fixes later in the development cycle.

Enhanced Security: Government systems often deal with sensitive information and must be secure. Automated testing can help identify vulnerabilities and security weaknesses early in the development process, reducing the risk of security breaches.

Better quality assurance: Ensuring the quality of public software and systems is crucial, as they often serve critical functions for the public. Automated testing can help maintain a high level of quality by systematically identifying and addressing issues, providing a higher level of confidence in the quality of the software. If you are releasing high quality, reliable software, it can lead to improvements in the provision of services to the public.

Nowadays, we live in a world where innovation and speed are paramount, meaning automated testing isn’t just an option, it’s a necessity. In the face of budget cuts and reduced resource the public sector must adapt and find new and innovative ways to boost productivity and efficiency.

The intelligent implementation of automation can help tackle these challenges and improve efficiency, accuracy, compliance, and security, whilst reducing costs and increasing transparency. It is a vital tool for ensuring that government software and systems meet the high standards required of the public sector.

Please visit: www.roq.co.uk

*neweconomics.org

**HSJ.co.uk

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