As macroeconomic pressure grows, state and local agencies are under pressure to achieve more with less funding. The $4.6 trillion that the federal government distributed during the pandemic is in the rear view mirror, but projects that government leaders initiated with this funding are ongoing.
For many CIOs and CFOs, a key focus of those projects is hyper-automation to increase efficiency and shorten time to value. There are many myths about the best way to approach hyper-automation initiatives. Here are three of the most common ones – and alternative mindsets to help leaders make the biggest impact.
Some leaders believe using a single vendor will make hyper-automation simple and streamlined, but a best-of-breed approach—or a larger portfolio of tools—is actually more effective. Complex business processes require multi-layered solutions, and multi-vendor orchestration is the best way to make these processes more efficient. The range of technologies in hyper-automation can include process mining, RPA, artificial intelligence (AI), intelligent document processing, low-code platforms and more.
What does orchestrating all these technologies look like in practice? Here’s an example: an agency could start by evaluating an end-to-end procure-to-pay process with process mining technology to identify inefficiencies and automation rates. Then, it could apply intelligent document processing to eliminate manual processing of invoices, as well as RPA to review contracts and ensure the SLA terms comply. This process, which wouldn't be possible using a single vendor, could lead to millions of dollars saved.
It’s understandable that leaders want to jump into action and show results from hyper-automation initiatives quickly, but creating impact requires first taking a step back and assessing current processes. End-to-end visibility of processes can help agencies pinpoint the biggest inefficiencies within these processes and identify where automation technologies can make the biggest impact. Taking this step before deploying automation is crucial.
Effective hyper-automation requires a three-step "find, frame, fix" approach:
Find: Evaluate processes such as procure-to-pay, accounts payable, and record-to-report. The government finance function is often a good setting to mature hyper-automation capabilities because of its well-structured and repeatable processes with quantitative benefits.
Frame: Zoom in on the most significant inefficiencies and define success in solving them. One success metric could be hours saved, but examining financial impact can help illuminate the magnitude of hyper-automation's value. Softer benefits can include automation rate and compliance benefits, such as audit readiness. Process mining technology can help agencies understand inefficiencies and identify how automation can reduce time to value. Then, it can integrate with their broader hyper-automation stack as they take steps to solve the inefficiencies.
Fix: Select and implement automation technology according to the success metrics. This is where an automation technique is both selected and executed. For example: triggering an RPA to take the human out of the loop for an invoice approval, or alerting a manager via email that a potential out-of-compliance purchase order has been detected.
The number of hours that hyper-automation initiatives save government employees is an important measurement, especially since they’re under pressure to achieve more with less funding and minimal time. But taking that measurement a step further to focus on financial impact can make these initiatives' impact more concrete and justify the investments they require.
In addition to hours saved, leaders should measure how taxpayer dollars saved lead to higher-value services for citizens (such as improper payments detected and applied to safety net programs) and what those services achieve. They can also examine how the agency’s compliance with government statutes and law improved. For example: because of its hyper-automation initiative, a state government was recently able to respond to legislators and improve its purchasing process to locate hundreds of millions in improper spending, and to automate alerts to ensure proper approvals were followed for sole source and direct purchases.
In the current economic climate, government CIOs and CFOs need to execute initiatives that use taxpayer dollars wisely and create efficiency. Hyper-automation is one of the best ways to do this. Embracing multiple vendors, understanding internal processes before implementing automation technologies, and measuring financial impact can make hyper-automation initiatives hyper-effective.
Learn more about how Celonis is helping remove decades of process friction from government systems and maximizing mission performance across public sector.