Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is getting a lot of attention as agencies look to modernize quickly and build in digital processes that will stand the test of time. But implementation – the “how can we do this quickly and do it well” – is still a major concern for leaders looking to innovate the right way. Think of it this way, instead of building a road with stop signs and stop lights, implementing an RPA program should be like building a highway with on-ramps and off-ramps. Agencies should be thinking about implementing RPA not just to solve today’s challenges, but to create the infrastructure needed to prepare for the future.
RPA can assist government agencies with high-volume, high-transaction, and routine tasks, such as copying and pasting data into forms, freeing staff to focus on strategic initiatives and programs. In fact, the 2019 National Association of State Chief Information Officers report indicated that RPA can save agencies 40 to 70 percent on labor costs in customer-service oriented activities. While there are some concerns that RPA replaces people, creates security risks, and is expensive, these concerns are overstated and the benefits of RPA for productivity – and career development – far outweigh the challenges.
Michael Grace, CTO of VerticalApps, an Arlington-based tech firm specializing in RPA, says the keys to a successful RPA implementation is process and communication. Start by creating an effective governance model that can provide the oversight mechanisms to define expectations, set standards and controls, and a develop precise strategy to provide efficient and effective RPA deployments. The next piece is to use a change management approach that includes both the developers and end-users and encourages broad communication within and across the organization.
Standing up a Robotic Process Automation Center of Excellence (CoE) helps to make all this possible from day one. The CoE can create your governance model and be the center of your communications to stakeholders. Working in sprints, your COE can oversee creation of ideas, feature prioritization, and process maps. You CoE should include team members from across your organization and serve to facilitate your RPA program, not create bottlenecks.
Jim Walker, Chief Technology Officer of UiPath, commented that even though Chief Information Officers assess new software before it’s added to an agency’s network, the task of identifying which work processes to automate first should happen at the CoE level. “I would not want you to think that a process being automated has to go to your CIO. These decisions are made by your CoE, where the software has already been approved to work,” said Walker.
While agencies may still be unsure about adopting RPA, having a clear path to delivery can alleviate concerns and encourage rapid innovation, Grace says. By creating a CoE, agencies can successfully map out their approach, communicate with everyone and begin seeing the benefits of RPA faster. On the road to modernization, your RPA CoE, with the right tools and partners involved, can build your highway the right way.
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