The Basics of How Automation Helps Agencies

This article is an excerpt from our recent course, “How Automation Can Improve Efficiency and Increase Output,” created in partnership with UiPath.

In government, the reality is often process before progress. That’s because of constraints in technology, budgets and staff – and it hinders the workforce. Employees are the engine of government, but a deluge of manual and repetitive tasks prevents mission gains.

Assume for a minute that you’re a statistician in government for a large healthcare agency, and you’re in charge of analyzing data about patients from all of the regional branches. Even if they keep good track of their data, you have a problem. All of this information being sent to you is in different documents, sometimes in different formats and always in different styles.

As a statistician, your job is to actually make sense of these numbers and their trends, conveying their value and importance. But instead, you have to spend a large amount of your time looking for each file, converting the data into the same style and format, inputting it into the database and so on and so forth. All of this has to happen before you can begin the crux of your job – the part that requires your unique expertise. And as a result, you lose countless hours of crucial work to redundant tasks that require no critical thinking.

Enter robotic process automation (RPA). RPA takes the burden of repetitive tasks away from employees by processing them automatically.

RPA is software that is installed onto computers and then works with airtight accuracy and lightning-fast speed in response to rules-based instructions. RPA developers input a series of instructions and commands for the bots, directing them where to access information, how to process it and how to deliver it. Once turned on, the bots operate as users on systems with a cursor – just working much quicker.

If you can write a Standard Operating Procedure, or SOP, for a process, thinking about the rules that drive it and possible conditions and exceptions, you can probably create an RPA automation for it.

RPA is generating buzz in government, and its appeal to leadership is apparent. The statistician mentioned beforehand no longer has to bother with the legwork – they can get straight to the meat of the project. No more retrieving emails or file-formatting or consolidating information – with RPA, you’re ready and set to do important work.

Imagine not having to wait on an oven to preheat, and immediately being able to begin cooking. Employees experience this benefit when RPA enters their workplace. Therefore, work being done by employees is efficient and uniquely valuable, getting the most of taxpayer dollars.

Stats back that up. Bots can eliminate 10 to 20% of an employee’s workload.

If government employees are freed up to work on more important jobs instead of repetitive tasks, agencies will reap the rewards. There is more room for innovation, value-added activities and cross-team collaboration toward the mission.

Additionally, government workplaces are increasingly able to attract new talent and employees, who can be lured by highly impactful work that is directly related to their career path. With more time spent on these activities, employees, leadership and constituents all improve.

Compare this to the cost of doing nothing. More data is filling the air than ever, and government employees have to manage all of it securely and safely. The amount of paperwork that governments are responsible for is only going to stack up. These manual processes will soon absorb even more of agencies’ budgets, citizens’ dollars, and employees’ time.

RPA is the first step for agencies to move to a new era of digitized government. See the lesson mentioned above for more information.

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