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RPA for Government: 5 Myths that May Be Holding You Back

The adoption of robotic process automation (RPA) will continue to dominate in 2021. Have you considered RPA as a way to eliminate your most painful manual processes? If you have concerns that have been holding you back, keep reading as we debunk five RPA myths.

1. Myth: It’s expensive

Chief information officers (CIOs) are turning to RPA, an emerging technology practice, to streamline enterprise operations and reduce costs. With RPA, organizations automate routine rule-based processes using software – called a bot – to capture and interpret data to process a transaction, trigger a response or communicate with other digital systems. RPA tasks can range from something simple, like generating an automatic response to an email, to thousands of bots automating a supply-chain system.

Sound expensive? Actually, bots are typically low-cost and easy to implement, requiring no custom software or deep systems integration. That’s important as organizations streamline operations without adding significant expenditures. RPA may provide the breathing room many organizations need as budgets and workforces shrink.

2. Myth: Our users won’t use it

RPA sounds a little sci-fi but many people are already comfortable with the intuitive technology. The rise of phone-based personal assistants and home devices, including Siri, Google and Alexa have eased the introduction of voice-controlled technologies. Other convenience-based tech, from auto-filling forms to remembering passwords and connecting callers to the right office, has drawn the public in with their convenience and time-saving benefits. Automating any process that is burdensome, complex or timely will improve the experience and therefore be seamlessly adopted by users.

3. Myth: RPA eliminates headcount

Automation is not meant to replace people – it’s designed to make human lives easier. As it lessens mundane tasks, many employees find they have more bandwidth for innovation, creation and engagement, which a computer cannot do.

If you are looking for a leaner, more efficient workforce, RPA can be a source for insight. Often, new workflows open up new areas of service or opportunities to expand programs, allowing you to shift employees within your organization while providing a better user experience (UX).

4. Myth: Our processes work fine, so we don’t need RPA

RPA can slash the time and resources spent on routine operations, with dollars and cents metrics. Even the steps of examining processes to see if they are candidates for RPA can be hugely valuable. Mapping processes may show how your well-oiled machine could meet user needs better. Other insights, such as how users interact with platforms, which tasks need to be correctly repeatedly or which tasks take the longest, will not only help to identify which processes should be automated but how you can improve your UX and where software needs to work better for employees.

5. Myth: RPA is a stop-gap fix

While it’s true that RPA can’t replace system upgrades, it can provide a fast fix to string together legacy software packages until you can make more extensive upgrades.

Also consider: RPA tools streamline workflows, but most process bottlenecks have nothing to do with computers. Complexity in workflows is often due to human actions. In many legacy systems, today’s workflows follow patterns that were set a decade or more ago. The process of developing RPA may provide insight into these workflow quirks and allow organizations to streamline processes before having to invest in major upgrades.

RPA is a stop along the route to intelligent automation via machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI). These tools are widely used in the commercial space and gaining a foothold in the public sector. For those hesitant to jump into the AI realm, RPA is a baby step forward with immediate ROI. Automation is an opportunity to rethink processes and root out areas for greater efficiency.

Interested in becoming a Featured Contributor? Email topics you’re interested in covering for GovLoop to [email protected]. And to read more from our Winter 2021 Cohort, here is a full list of every Featured Contributor during this cohort.

Edward Tuorinsky, Managing Principal at DTS, a government consultant business, is a service-disabled veteran who brings nearly two decades of experience to DTS in the areas of leadership, management consulting and information technology services.

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