Modernize government service delivery with automation
- By Omid Aslani
- May 13, 2021
Processing visa applications, allocating grants, administering loans and unemployment checks – these are just a few of the services government agencies deliver to citizens. These processes can be inefficient, complex and often slow.
Government agencies at all levels must remember: Citizens are customers. As such, they expect a modern customer experience that’s frictionless and efficient. Citizens want to be able to submit forms online, get answers in real-time via chat and have their information auto-populated in online forms based on past submissions. Yet, there are also times when they still want to pick up the phone and talk to a human.
To meet this demand for flexibility and convenience, quality and speed, agencies must shift to digital and automated business processes. Many have started this transformation with robotic process automation (RPA), which uses software “bots” to automate repetitive, manual tasks. While this is an excellent starting point, it’s just the beginning of modernization.
A recent study found 98% of decision-makers reported challenges due to an unintegrated “point solution” approach to automation. For example, there are still many paper-based and manual processes in government, which create bottlenecks, backlogs and errors. Citizens get frustrated, and staff members grow tired and dissatisfied with repetitive, mundane work. The situation gets even worse during times of peak demand, as seen during the pandemic when agency websites crashed as citizens rushed to apply for services.
To truly modernize complex delivery service operations, government agencies need a unified platform that provides end-to-end automation through various workflow automation capabilities. Implementation should be simple, and the system must be scalable and easily maintained by existing operations and IT resources.
‘Hyperautomation’ with a unified platform
Ninety-nine percent of decision-makers see considerable value in working with a single automation vendor. A unified platform that natively combines complementary capabilities such as paper document capture, mobile-enabled digital processing, automated workflows and unstructured data extraction and classification enables government agencies to reach a state of “hyperautomation” across functional and process silos.
However, government services delivery can be complex, involving data validation and requiring action from multiple offices, departments and even other agencies. Often, citizens or a third party must supply additional information. The ensuing back-and-forth is slow, costly and frustrating when conducted through traditional mail, email and (dare we say) fax communications. A modern and innovative intelligent automation platform includes the right mix of tools and technology to transform services delivery. Address updates, loan processing and other actions that used to take four to six weeks to complete can be shaved down to a simple, five-minute mobile transaction.
An end-to-end approach to automation benefits agencies and constituents in many ways, including:
- Faster application approval times
- Reduced processing costs and program churn
- Improved data quality
- Fewer errors
- Flexibility in how citizens interact
- Faster access to services
- Optimized back-end paperwork processes
- Real-time support for constituents
The components for success
Every agency has a unique set of needs, so there isn’t one perfect approach for all. But native integration on a single platform of all the technologies agencies might need to modernize services offers numerous advantages. A system like this meets a wide array of use cases and works for federal civilian and defense agencies, as well as state and local organizations. Many automation companies offer specific products to solve certain types of processes. However, most processes in the real world require holistic solutions rather than a particular product. Failure to partner with a company that provides a unified platform often leads to multiple vendors, licensing and contract negotiations as well as arduous manual integrations and maintenance.
Key automation technologies to look for in a unified platform include:
- RPA to automate labor-intensive, repetitive tasks across systems and data sources at scale.
- Process orchestration that coordinates workflows involving multiple people, actions, software robots, policies and systems to drive successful outcomes.
- AI-enabled cognitive capture to ingest and understand structured and unstructured content, regardless of format or channel, through the power of AI and natural language processing.
- Advanced analytics that leverage the data captured to gain visibility and actionable insight into agencies, robots and constituents.
- Mobility and engagement that provide efficient, effective and secure means for citizen interaction and transactions through such capabilities as e-signature, facial recognition and on-demand communications.
When these complementary technologies work together as part of a unified platform, agencies can create automated workflows, perform dynamic case management and automate tasks across any system or application including commercial off-the-shelf, government off-the-shelf and military off-the-shelf products. No longer siloed, the information becomes actionable. Employees have more time to meaningfully assist constituents rather than processing papers -- leading to higher employee satisfaction. Benefits for citizens include the freedom to select their preferred channel of communication, ease-of-use and speed-of-services, making the customer experience is as seamless as it is on Amazon.
Now’s the time for government agencies to implement an end-to-end unified automation solution. They’ll save time and money while matching the levels of speed and service citizens have come to expect from consumer services. A unified platform equipped with a comprehensive set of intelligent automation technologies catapults agencies into the modern world of doing business and delivers all of the benefits that come along with it. Federal, state and local government agencies: It’s time to work like tomorrow -- today.
Omid Aslani is director of commercial product management at Kofax.