Capgemini recently announced a further deal with the Cabinet Office that would build on its already established relationship as the de facto RPA provider to HM Government.

This follows on from them setting up an Automated Delivery Centre last year to deliver RPA solutions to HM Revenue and Customs, and, in August this year, a £4m deal with the Cabinet Office to help develop and support RPA across Central Government.

But it seems that the Government want to move faster, accelerating the adoption of RPA across as much of the government as possible.  Chris Hall, Deputy Chief Commercial Officer, Cabinet Office has been quoted as saying that they are aiming to take one to two years off the take-up time for the technology. (Although exactly what this means is open to debate).

In this latest arrangement, Capgemini will be providing a ‘Centre of Excellence’ for RPA. CoEs can mean different things to different people, but this one is specifically focused on three main objectives: to educate organisations in just what the technology can do within public services; to work with the larger departments looking for opportunities to deploy RPA; and to help departments plan their RPA deployments and build business cases for them. To do this Capgemini will host a development facility in order to create new automated processes, and provide a teaching centre to help users learn how RPA can benefit them in their work. It will also run a ‘showcase programme’ so that it can demonstrate new applications of RPA. So, this is more about evangelising and educating civil servants on RPA than actually deploying the technology.

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In the original notice setting out the terms of the deal, the Cabinet Office stated that the provider “will be able to build RPA applications for departments”, and that it “will be expected to put up staffing and financial resources in support of the project”. So, it seems like the CoE is more of an investment by Capgemini than a grand project win, in the expectation (hope?) that it can reap the benefits from the newly evangelised civil servants wanting to use them to do lots of RPA deployments in their departments.

But this may not be as easy as it sounds. The original notice also states that, “in return, will have access to opportunities to work with government departments and agencies in developing RPA applications. be rewarded by earning fees for this work, which may be based on the savings achieved by the hosting department.” If Capgemini are to make the most of this ‘special relationship’ then it will still have plenty of work to do. Basing fees on a risk/reward model can be lucrative, but it is also very risky, especially when the RPA benefits have to be isolated from everything else that is happening. And, whilst RPA can undoubtedly deliver huge savings if everything works well, those savings can often be severely diluted or wiped out by factors outside of the control of the implementer.

Capgemini is taking a risk with this strategy, but it clearly sees the long-term benefits outweighing those risks. There is currently no centralised approach or strategy to RPA across the government, but with the Centre of Excellence it has now put itself in an ideal position to be seen as the champion and de facto provider for everything RPA that will folllow.

About the author

Andrew Burgess has been the lead architect within several major change projects, including strategic development, IT transformation and outsourcing, in a wide range of industries across four continents. He has developed and implemented sourcing strategies for global organisations, running sourcing programs and helping re-organise IT departments to maximise their value from sourcing. Andrew was recently awarded ‘Automation Champion of the Year’ by the GSA, the industry association and professional body for the global sourcing industry. He is widely considered to be a leading expert in the growing Legal Transformation and Outsourcing market and has recently written ‘The Rise of Legal Services Outsourcing’ in collaboration with the London School of Economics (LSE). Andrew’s latest book, ‘The Executive Guide to Artificial Intelligence‘ has recently been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Andrew is a council member of the Global Sourcing Association and is Head of Consulting at HG Insights.