Agencies at all levels of government are searching for ways to free up employees to do higher-value work and contribute more to the mission. For that reason, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a memo in 2018 instructing agencies to look for ways to shift from low-value to high-value work in re-evaluating processes, requirements and technologies.
In the memo, OMB explicitly directs agencies to introduce robotic process automation (RPA), a software that can complete simple, rote tasks based on coded instructions. OMB notes that this could help “reduce repetitive administrative tasks.”
A single RPA bot can save agencies thousands of full-time employee hours every year. Multiply that across more than 100 bots, and then RPA’s full potential is realized. Still, when learning about the benefits of RPA, organizations frequently focus on single case studies of how one bot alleviated the repetitive, manual workload of one task. Of course, these stories are important to anecdotally illustrate how RPA works, but isolated instances fail to capture the scope of transformation that RPA can have on an agency.
“This is a technology that can actually help drive the bottom-line benefits, the mission of what government’s intended to deliver,” said Keith Nelson, Global Head of Public Sector at Automation Anywhere.
Automation Anywhere is a company that offers easy-to-build RPA solutions for government, as well as the private sector.
GovLoop recently spoke with Nelson about how to make the most of RPA at agencies. And it turns out, many are missing out on RPA’s full potential because their scope is too limited. With bots, Nelson said, there is strength in numbers. Therefore, an agency will really unshackle employees and promote innovation by deploying automation throughout its enterprise. Four or five bots aren’t enough for an RPA revolution, Nelson said; dozens or hundreds of bots are needed.
Several common pitfalls have organizations spinning their wheels on RPA transformation projects, however. Agencies can be decentralized in their approach, for one, leading to duplicative, labor-intensive and piecemeal developments. Also, agencies can fail to pair business needs with bot development, leaving important opportunities unfilled and IT teams unprepared.
Both of these trip-ups are resolved by a formal, organizational strategy for RPA. Although RPA pilots should start small – a common truism for technology projects – agencies should have an end state in mind and a plan to get there from the get-go. A central office for RPA will help to suffuse its adoption throughout an agency.
Takeaway: Automation was never about just one or two processes being streamlined. Bringing in user-friendly platforms, agencies can scale automation throughout their enterprise – led by everyday users who, with no-code and low-code solutions, build bots to answer business needs.
Of course, plans are often easier said than done, which is why agencies need to find tools that can easily link business needs to RPA development. Better yet, everyday users should have the opportunity to build the bots themselves.
“You really can’t scale if every time you want to build a bot you have to wait in line for IT to get back to you,” Nelson said.
Automation Anywhere offers an easy-to-use suite of capabilities that oversees all bots in production or in use. Users can simply hit “record” on Automation Anywhere’s app, perform the manual task, and the RPA bot will copy and remember those actions for reuse. The tool is easy enough for business users to design bots and nuanced enough for developers to integrate artificial intelligence into more complex models, meaning that with Automation Anywhere, agencies can thoroughly scale.
Like spokes on a bike wheel, successful bots radiate from a central hub – all working together. And with the wheels of an RPA strategy in motion, agencies can cover a lot of ground.
This blog post is an excerpt from our new ebook, “Getting Started: Answering Your Questions About Robotic Process Automation.” Download the ebook to learn about the many agencies that are working to implement RPA to achieve greater efficiency and free up their human employees for high-value tasks here.