Bolstering the Bot – How Federal Agencies Can Integrate Intelligence into their Automation Programs

The federal government is the ideal candidate for intelligent automation. Technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) can handle growing federal workloads and augment employee productivity while improving service delivery. And these technologies are gaining traction.

A new survey by FedScoop found that six in ten federal respondents now use RPA technology to facilitate work. And, one in three said that RPA has added between 5,000 and 50,000 hours of capacity back to the human workforce!

But robots are only the beginning

Despite its many benefits, RPA can only get your agency so far.

Consider time-consuming financial management tasks. From invoice processing to check entry, nearly half of all agencies that use RPA use it in their finance function. After all, a robot is great at scanning a check, extracting data, and debiting it an accounting system. But the documents and paperwork that a robot will encounter are often hard to read – the print may be faint, key information may be missing, and so on. While the bot may be successful in processing checks 80% of the time, they lack the intelligence to handle the remaining 20%.

But when you layer in deeper intelligence capabilities such as data science, machine learning, and AI – the opportunities for automation take on new meaning.

For instance, when a document understanding solution is applied, RPA can be used in conjunction with more sophisticated optical character recognition (OCR) and advanced machine learning (ML) algorithms to “learn” from the thousands of checks handled by the digital assistants. With this understanding, the intelligent model can classify which department the check is for thereby expediting processing. They can also understand blocks of unstructured texts or non-fixed layouts that would challenge most robots, filling in the blanks where information is needed. The capability can also validate errors and potential anomalies.

So, while RPA only gets you so far, integrating intelligence into automations will yield more complete solutions and generate greater benefits such as  higher accuracy, reduced exception handling by humans, and increased automation efficiency.

Achieving intelligent automation at enterprise scale – the Macro difference

Perhaps the most significant hurdle to intelligent automation is figuring out where to start. While it’s easy to throw technology at proven use cases – like using a bot to verify if a document has been signed and kicking it back if it hasn’t – this isn’t the most strategic approach.

Connecting and scaling the potential of automation to more strategic enterprise-wide initiatives starts not with technology, but by understanding an agency’s vision, mission, and goals. Macro Solutions leverages our deep understanding and experience of business architecture to provide focused and targeted insights for agency RPA and IA programs. Once understood, the business architecture blueprint can be applied to planning and execution and act as the catalyst for enterprise adoption and scaling.

This is the Macro approach to intelligent enterprise-wide automation.

What does that look like in practice? Instead of looking through the lens of technology, we focus first on identifying where big challenges can be solved and where value can be derived. Then we partner with organizational leaders to create a recommendation and blueprint for reimagining how work is done across business functions – and the tools and techniques needed to attain it.

It’s an approach that separates organizations who are dabbling in RPA and those who are scaling their intelligent automation efforts, and it’s grounded in our deep and rich expertise and experience.

Helping the federal government harness the power of intelligent automation

By approaching automation through the strategic lens of business architecture, Macro has helped agencies like the GSA, USDA, and federal financial regulatory agencies get the most out of their financial, human capital, acquisition, and ERP applications – all systems ripe for intelligent automation.

We also realize the potential of intelligence automation, not just to provide value to our clients, but to increase productivity and solve problems in our own operations.

Furthermore, prior to becoming Macro’s intelligent solutions practice leader, I led the U.S. Army Financial Management and Comptroller’s “Bot Squad” and oversaw its first use of bots; building the governance, infrastructure model, and teams that are still in use today.

We’re also out there spreading the word. As Industry Chair for the ACT-IAC Emerging Technology Community of Interest, our own Todd Hager helped form the ACT-IAC Intelligent Automation and RPA Working Group and is both an advocate and influencer in the space.  The group has published several reports that continue its mission to inform agencies about technology options to advance automation within their agencies. The group’s most recent report touches on use cases, FAQs, and product information for technologies that complement RPA and expand it into intelligent solutions.

Earlier this month, I became the Industry Chair for the group and look forward to working with our industry and government members to bring greater value to the discipline.

Low-Cost Assessment: Accelerate your agency’s intelligent automation journey

Ready to get started the Macro way?

We understand that agencies are at different stages in their digital journeys – many are at the starting line while others are looking to layer in additional capabilities and scale their efforts. Accelerating that journey is where Macro can help.

Our team can help assess and recommend opportunities for applying and advancing intelligent automation quickly and cost effectively. The assessment includes a results-based roadmap for implementation based on best practices and standards and is tailorable to fit your unique needs, goals, and mission.

The graphic below depicts our range of high-level RPA and intelligent automation services that help deliver the most value for your agency and your customers.

Contact us to get your low-cost Macro Intelligent Automation Assessment.