RPA turns modernization goals into reality — GCN


RPA realizes modernization goals

If we look to the future, many promising technologies are finding greater use across the federal government. In my opinion, no technology looks more promising in the near future than intelligent automation with robotic process automation (RPA).

RPA will continue to grow as a valuable tool for government IT executives as it allows the human workforce to grow and scale instantly without affecting existing systems. When agencies attempt to automate tasks, significant development efforts are often required. With RPA, an agency can implement and test on a small scale, and then quickly expand to automate additional manual tasks.

While the technology is widespread in many sectors, RPA is in a unique position to help government agencies maintain and deliver quality services while ensuring that valuable human resources can be focused on high quality tasks. Think of it this way: Any mundane operation that does not require human subjectivity can be a potential candidate for RPA technology.

Once the agencies are able to identify the specific operations that can be automated based on their business objectives, they can maximize the workforce by allowing bots to take care of their day-to-day tasks.

With a new presidential administration, IT modernization is likely to remain a top priority for the agencies and RPA can help them turn goals into reality.

Implement RPA

Getting started with RPA is easy and agencies can see results quickly. Some implementation considerations:

  • After identifying the processes that make the most sense for automation, agencies should ensure that the RPA technology they choose is easy to use and implement.
  • To get the most out of RPA, security must be addressed at the architecture level and meet the agency’s requirements.
  • Reliability creates confidence that the platform can safely automate everyday tasks without causing disruptions. The ability to integrate and scale automation in a company is the key to success.
  • Understanding how RPA technology works and how it interacts with business systems is critical. If an agency cannot take advantage of most of the functionality of the platform, the broad value of RPA is essentially not realized. Most RPA platforms are mature enough to interface with enterprise systems. However, it is still important to ensure that an RPA properly integrates and automates the desired processes.

Quantifying success is easy

One of the reasons I’m so optimistic about RPA is how easy it is to quantify the results and show their value. The standard approach taken in the industry is to quantify the time and effort involved in the cost currently being spent getting a task done, and then assess the savings in avoiding costs after implementing RPA. For agencies looking to improve their performance while confirming savings, RPA is perfect.

For example, in a government agency, people management specialists would receive approximately 1,700 schedule adjustments per day and update the changes manually. After implementing an RPA bot, the agency was able to achieve 94% automation of these tasks. This implementation not only improved the bottom line, but also freed up valuable staff for more complex tasks.

The bright future of RPA

The best roles to start using RPA technology were finance and procurement, human resources and operations, which typically involve many manual, repetitive tasks. By delivering RPA quickly, agencies can evaluate the benefits and outcomes, and then identify other features that could also be of use. Typically, the initial implementation doesn’t require a large or long timeframe. However, once set up, it is imperative that the agency continue to identify and automate appropriate processes.

I believe that at some point RPA will become part of the core technology platform stack for business applications that relate directly to agency missions as well as their supporting functions. RPA is becoming an embedded component in off-the-shelf solutions, and we’ll see that development begin in earnest as early as this year.

As agencies continue to adopt RPA, the efficiency benefits will be too great to ignore. I expect RPA will quickly become a ubiquitous tool for government IT executives that will effectively improve the achievement of mission objectives.

About the author

Raj Parameswaran is President of the US Information Technology together with Maximus.

April 2, 2021