Robotic process automation (RPA) has come into its own, and many organizations are gaining efficiencies by automating repetitive, rules-based tasks. Don’t think of the shambling, clanking humanoid automatons from 1950s sci-fi, or even the sleek bomb-disposal robots used today by the military and police departments. These robots are software-based applications that enable organizations to turn over tasks such as payroll processing or HR record keeping to automated systems.
The federal government has also begun to make some forays into RPA and—with ongoing emphasis on digital transformation—the time is ripe for it. RPA offers an opportunity to reengineer business processes, and bringing automation in during the early stages of an initiative presents a much easier opportunity to integrate it into the broader plan. While most agencies will begin with proofs-of-concept and a few small projects, the ultimate goal should be an enterprise solution. The earlier an agency brings RPA into digital transformation plans, the more successful the overall effort is likely to be.
The software robots, or “bots,” used in RPA vastly eclipse the utility of more rudimentary forms of automation (for example, scripts or command line utilities). The bot is essentially an actor that performs the automations you build. While it may not seem like much on the surface, the software robot brings three pivotal capabilities:
- Orchestration—RPA solutions come with a dashboard to manage your robotic workforce and queue automated workflows based on a schedule or event trigger.
- Auditability—Each robot in your fleet has its own identity and history of record, so you stay informed about the nature and timing of everything it does.
- Emulation—Robots are designed to emulate the way a human interacts with software. This allows you to automate processes without requiring application programming interfaces. Meanwhile, agency employees who had previously spent time doing these repetitive tasks can now turn their attention to more innovative work.
Equipped with the power of robots, RPA carries the attraction that automation has always brought: a dramatic increase in speed and accuracy. You'd be hard-pressed to find a manager that's uninterested in conquering larger workloads while incurring fewer errors.
This leads to the compounding benefits of RPA: fewer errors and faster performance in an otherwise frustrating business increase throughput while saving time, which can in turn be used to improve other areas of your organization.
Later this month, CGI will attend the World Congress in Cleveland, Ohio. Hosted by the National Contract Management Association, this event affords government and industry professionals the opportunity to discover the latest trends in procurement, acquisitions and contract management. The conference runs from July 22-25, with an agenda full of educational deep dives, intriguing talks and engaging networking social events. CGI will present a case study of RPA on the second day of the event.
If you find yourself wondering where to start with RPA, what processes to automate, how to keep useful metrics or—perhaps most importantly—how this is best applied to contract management, find us at the World Congress to join the conversation.
About this author
Andy Krohg is a solution architect in CGI’s Federal Emerging Technologies Practice, specializing in Robotic Process Automation. His background as a developer and consultant for enterprise resource planning systems has positioned him to push the limits of automation in acquisitions and financial management.