Establishing solid oversight and setting aggressive goals are among the recommendations in version 1.0 of the Robotic Process Automation Community of Practice’s playbook for agencies that are looking to start an RPA program or upgrade current services.
The General Services Administration established the Community of Practice in April to accelerate agencies’ adoption of RPA technology by sharing solutions to common challenges.
“All agencies are charged with pursuing workload elimination, and RPA provides a low-cost tool to make an immediate impact,” writes Gerard Badorrek, chief financial officer at GSA and community chairman, in the playbook released Jan. 15. “The opportunity for RPA to transform federal operations is massive.”
RPA is low- or no-code, commercial-off-the-shelf technology that automates repetitive, rules-based tasks like data entry or analytics in areas from IT and acquisition to finance and human resources.
Federal RPA programs currently eliminate five hours of workload per employee. If that savings reached 20 hours and the technology was deployed at scale, the capacity gain in valued at $3 billion, according to the playbook.
The playbook spans six themes:
Just get started. Agencies must still do initial planning around resources and use cases, but otherwise agile management should be used to address problems as they arise.
Ensure effective collaboration between the RPA program and the chief information officer. CIOs play a “critical role” in expediting program development by helping with designing formal security protocols, credentialing, privacy processes, tech procurement, and enterprise governance.
Establish aggressive goals and deliver. This bolsters the RPA business case, which in turn ensures continued momentum and investment.
Invest in process assessment and improvement capabilities. This optimizes the selection of RPA use cases.
Balance the dual priorities of governance and productivity. Establishing a Center of Excellence or other management mechanism to centralize governance helps mature an RPA program. But overregulation can hurt productivity.
Think strategically about technology options. Agencies should invest time and money up front identifying the right low-cost solution from among more than 12 “proven” technologies or else enterprise systems with add-on RPA modules.