What does workload automation mean for governments?
If there’s one constant trend in federal, state or local government, it’s the message of “you need to do more with less.” It comes from taxpayers, legislators, governors and mayors, and when elections draw closer the drumbeat gets even louder.
Government employees today are expected to “do more” for their citizens than at any time in history. As we advance further into the digital age, governments are expected to digitally transform to better serve their citizens, this presents a huge challenge.
However, there is reason for optimism. “Digital Transformation” provides the solution to the problem of doing more with less through upgrading government technology.
Along with the explosion in emerging technology, tight budgets and stretched IT resources, new capabilities for workload automation have emerged, and they’re driving operational efficiencies for governments of all sizes.
Automation is not a new technology for government. But in step with innovations in artificial intelligence and process robotics, workload automation is playing an increasingly central role in streamlining tasks that are usually performed by government professionals.
Since technology options are designed to execute these tasks more quickly and securely than people can, workload automation is a cost-effective way of helping government agencies run more efficiently while providing better-value services to their citizens and freeing government employees and resources to address other issues.
With all technology, understanding what exactly you need and how it should be deployed is the key to achieving desirable results. Poorly deployed or planned investments in technology can be counterproductive. It can create even higher operational costs and reduce efficiency. With automation, consistency and simplicity are key, and governments that automate reap the rewards.
While there are many options for automation, governments must assess their priorities, strengths, weaknesses and most urgent needs. For instance, AI and autonomous intelligence can power workflow automation solutions for government processes.
This in turn helps governmental teams with limited IT skills or technical expertise develop effective business processes and job scheduling solutions quickly and effectively. At the same time, it improves the accountability and transparency of governments, without the need for costly internal upskilling efforts.
How is workload automation different from robotic process automation?
Just as workload automation takes care of administrative tasks with minimal input, robotic process automation for governments, as the name suggests, acts much like a robot to manage simple and repetitive business processes. AI and autonomous intelligence solutions can power intelligent automation and process orchestration because emerging technology now can think and act like a human, capable of tackling sophisticated problems.
Both robotic process automation and workload automation for governments help teams develop effective business processes quickly and effectively, potentially giving them the capability to consolidate their IT infrastructure to a single data center plug.
Rather than replace human capital, automation has the effect of augmenting employee skills by enabling them to improve their performance, complete multiple tasks at once, reconfigure and optimizing workflows, and expedite document request fulfilment while delivering better overall organizational visibility.
Why automate government processes?
Applications for workload automation for government are as vast as government services. They cover many areas, such as data center, personnel, payroll, expenses, healthcare, IT services, social services and more.
Each application must be run in its own environment and accounts for thousands of server instances. Housing the applications requires a wide mixture of technologies and its own networking infrastructure and power infrastructure.
In short, operating all these applications can be extremely complicated, so it’s important to deploy a workload automation platform like SMA Technologies’ OpCon, which can support many applications at once, rather than utilizing a patchwork of different workload automation platforms.
While it’s not uncommon for government agencies to employ multiple automation platforms, having one platform that offers a “single pane of glass” – granting visibility and control over all applications – is by far the most efficient use of resources, saving IT manhours and simplifying many government functions.
For example, say that a government purchases technology for a new welfare system. The system will include hardware and software and requires the additional purchase of a new mainframe and 100 new Windows and Linux servers.
Naturally, vendors will want to sell the government an automation solution as part of that package, so once the government purchases separate technology to address other services like waste management, education or transportation, they end up with multiple automation platforms running independently of one another. Each of those platforms requires their own support and maintenance networks – commanding government resources that could be better utilized somewhere else.
Common applications of workload automation in governments
Governments across the world are using SMA Technologies’ OpCon automation platform to transform their operations right now. For instance, one government agency that collects taxes began using OpCon after they encountered a major service disruption on Tax Day – the most important day of the year for them.
Determined to never let it happen again, they initiated a project they call “site resiliency” that lets them automate their disaster recovery environments. This means that if they had a similar failure in the future, the disrupted environment would seamlessly switch to a working environment. Additionally, OpCon will now allow them to initiate an automated failover process – if needed - because they now have multiple data center environments that they can call upon at a moment’s notice.
RDW, the Dutch Vehicle Authority, experienced a slightly different challenge – but one faced by governments all over the world. They found that the cost of maintaining their legacy technologies was not only outstripping the cost of repairs, but it was no longer providing the operational flexibility they needed.
To solve the problem, SMA Technologies helped them migrate their legacy mainframe processes without ever losing service or interrupting business. OpCon was deployed in the existing mainframe environment and took over all jobs and workflows while staying operational for customers.
This proved to be a powerful technique for managing complexity, enabling repetitive testing and removing the potential for human error. Automation also reduces the need for training and re-skilling because the workflows run in the new environment the same as they did in the old.
Automation also had a major hand in helping governments to adapt to the COVID-19 lockdowns. As many government employees retreated to the safety of working from home, this technology has facilitated the continuation of essential functions to enable governments to continue supporting their citizens during the crisis.
Automation processes are predefined and configured in a data center, so when the lockdown started processes could be initiated through any connected device to allow governments to migrate some assets into a commercial cloud infrastructure.
For instance, this meant that Division of Motor Vehicle employees could work from home, and still have the tools they needed to process licenses, registrations and other DMV related functions. Tax collection agencies were still able to function, ensuring that governments remained funded throughout the crisis.
Internal compliance is another area where automation has had a powerful impact. Government agencies are being audited all the time, and automation can address nagging process issues that auditors routinely flag. For example, employees leaving or storing files in the wrong location is a major thorn in the side of auditors.
It happens in almost any organization, but file storage in government needs to be precise. Automation can automatically place files where they need to be, saving government staff and auditors time, and taxpayers money.
How SMA Technologies can help
SMA Technologies’ OpCon workload automation platform makes it quick, easy and cost-effective for governments to free their employees from mundane tasks and focus on value-driven government processes. It achieves this by providing the following advantages:
- Reducing operational costs by streamlining key business processes
- Eliminating human errors with centralized script management
- Breaking down application silos by integrating cross-platform workflows within a single point of control.
Additionally, OpCon provides several advantages that are unique to governments as they seek to overcome challenges such as undertaking large-scale IT consolidation initiatives, coping with unions that impede technology innovations and paper-based workflows that expose governments to costly human error.
When deploying the automation platforms, the industry standard is bringing in consultants to attempt to reverse engineer the processes already in place and recreate them in their product. It’s a burdensome, time-consuming, and expensive process.
SMA Technologies takes a different approach – for governments that want to deploy OpCon, they’ll take their existing database and transform it into the OpCon format before loading into a test environment. OpCon is mostly language agnostic, meaning many of the existing scripts can be used as is, saving considerable time during implementation. This allows governments to conduct precise tests that deliver clean and accurate results without incurring consultancy fees.
Because of this streamlined process, SMA Technologies will never take up precious room at government offices or waste time interrupting important government work. The net effect is that governments can deploy OpCon faster and more reliably than other automation platforms.
OpCon workload automation allows governments to deploy a single product that automates everything they need automated, making it possible to shrink the size of teams, while boosting productivity by improving speed and reducing risks and mistakes.
The impact of workflow and workload automation for governments manifests itself in a major boost to the bottom line – which at the end of the day means money saved for taxpayers. In the age of governments being asked to do more with less, workload automation is a truly indispensable tool for governments of all levels and sizes.
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To find out more about how our OpCon workload automation platform can help you drive operational efficiency, use the form below to get in touch with one of our experts today.