DOL’s head of emerging technology describes how the department leverages RPA to reduce workloads and dollars spent.
The Ministry of Labor is developing process automation robots to advance business processes and accelerate operations, said Krista Kinnard, Head of Emerging Technologies Department, at GovernmentCIO’s AI Gov Series: Future of RPA virtual event Media & Research.
“In the government ecosystem, you see people integrating automation and RPA to achieve a lot of value in the way they accomplish their mission,” Kinnard said.
DOL began its RPA journey almost a year and a half ago, when the department developed robots for the procurement space to test how this technology would work in the DOL ecosystem. Since then, DOL has discovered that bots can effectively fulfill the department’s mission, and DOL has started to expand bot development to the whole company.
“We have gone from our initial three pilot robots in the purchasing arena to a growing ecosystem with a number of robots in development now and even more in our backlog,” Kinnard added.
Based on the successes of DOL’s three initial robots, the department created additional robots for human resources, automated regression testing, automated performance reporting, and claims assessment.
DOL developed the RH bot, its “next attempt at automation,” as Kinnard explained, in five days. This bot saved over 72 man hours and about $ 30,000 in man hours, she said.
“I’m really excited about the successes we’ve had with these robots because I think we’re only going to see more benefits for mission areas,” Kinnard added.
DOL wants to create a repeatable system so that the company’s technology leaders can use these strategies to explore and implement other emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.
When creating RPA, DOL focused on two areas: technical application and business perspective. RPA had to be technically feasible and interface with existing DOL systems. DOL also looked at data sources to allow interaction and increase transparency.
“Just because robots can be a solution to a problem doesn’t mean they can or should solve the problem,” Kinnard said.
In addition to building the technical infrastructure to guide bot development, DOL is also putting in place an enterprise-level governance and management structure for its RPA environment.
“We don’t build bots for the sake of building bots,” Kinnard said. “We are building robots to bring value to DOL employees and workers so that they can fulfill their missions. We want to make sure we deliver that value.
Return on investment is a top priority as DOL continues to integrate RPA into its business processes. DOL wants to leverage RPA to reduce costs, time spent, and risk.
To effectively solve problems, instead of increasing “IT bloat”, DOL creates a “safe exploration space” to innovate in an environment with closed decision-making capabilities. In this space, DOL will assess the need, the ecosystem, the people and how the department could leverage, build and implement RPA to create value.
“Taking a human-centered design approach to make sure we create things that create value is essential,” Kinnard said. “You have to have someone who is ready to be an ambassador for your RPA program, because you’re not going to access this human-centered design without it. “
There must also be tangible benefits that allow people to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Looking ahead, Kinnard said that over the next several years automation will continue to grow across government.
“Looking to the next level, we don’t just automate individual processes. We take the government structure and provide the next level of automation across government, ”Kinnard concluded.