Targeting data pain points with process robotics

DIG IT AWARD FINALIST: Robotics, Automation and UAS

Targeting data pain points with process robotics

Data entry is the bedrock of computer-enabled analysis -- and it’s boring, time-consuming and prone to errors.

Dig IT Award Finalists

The GCN Dig IT Awards celebrate discovery and innovation in government IT.

There are 36 finalists this year. Each will be profiled in the coming days, and the winners for each category will be announced at the Oct. 13 Dig IT Awards gala.

See the full list of 2016 Dig IT Award Finalists

That’s where process robotics comes in. Rules-based software automates mundane, repetitive computer tasks so employees can focus on mission-critical work. Currently being tested at five federal agencies spanning defense, health and homeland security, process robotics has already proven its ability to save significant time and money while improving accuracy.

At one federal health organization, a pilot project is reducing the labor associated the capturing, archiving, confirming and reporting the data required to monitor the performance of far-flung research labs. The system not only enters the data, but also analyzes, compares and validates it -- even going as far as identifying and reporting data outliers and variances to the test sites.

“Before, in a laboratory, you would have scientists doing routine work,” said Marc Mancher, a principal at Deloitte Consulting and leader of the process robotics effort. “The scientist would take the data from the Excel spreadsheet and move it into a new database and run some basic analytics to see if there is any correlation. Say that takes 10 minutes per item and they do 100 of these a day; that is 1,000 minutes they spend doing this. We have taken 1,000 minutes of work and turned it into two minutes through the machine.”

A recent commercial implementation resulted in a 92 percent labor savings and a 71 percent increase in efficiency -- improvements Mancher said could help federal agencies when money for staff and contractors is scarce.

Process robotics operates on the user interface layer and takes advantage of whatever IT systems are already in place. “That is why it is so fast and impactful," Mancher said. "It mimics the user with the same security, same IT, same policies and same governance that already exist in the environment.”

About the Author

Suzette Lohmeyer is a freelance writer based in Arlington, Va.


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