Robot light

Perspectives

Federal finance robotics and process automation

The robots are here

Process robotics is transforming federal finance at an ever-increasing rate. Are you ready to harness the power of finance robotics but unsure how to navigate this uncharted territory? Learn what you need to know about finance robotics in government and steps you can take to help make your implementation a success.

Finance robotics in the federal government

Federal finance organizations are entering the process robotics space at an ever-increasing rate, looking to take advantage of significantly improved processing times and data accuracy offered by intelligent, bot-driven processes. These efficiency improvements are the direct results generated when organizations empower their employees to leverage bots (robotic process automation, or process robotics) in their daily activities, significantly scaling their ability to process an ever-increasing workload.

While most recent process robotics (bots) discussions in the marketplace have revolved around bots replacing humans in the workforce, a collaboration between person and machine to empower the finance workforce may provide exponentially more value to an organization, significantly increasing the organization’s workload capacity at a fraction of traditional workforce costs. This complementary bot approach may prove to be a cornerstone capability for federal finance organizations as they progress toward an increasingly digital government.

The case for process robotics in federal finance

Process robotics is applicable enterprise-wide, and strong use cases exist for all lines of business. So why is finance a prime candidate for process robotics?

Transaction processing is a key activity performed by every finance organization. Budget distribution, obligation tracking, accruals, invoice processing, journal vouchers, reporting—the day-to-day activities for finance organizations seem to primarily be manual, repetitive, and rules-based. Additionally, the subject matter requires a high degree of accuracy to reduce the risk of rework or an audit finding. Couple this with directives for agencies to be increasingly mission-focused, resulting in shrinking back office budgets, and it becomes very clear why finance is a prime candidate for process robotics.

This may finally be the solution that can answer the age-old question, “How do I do more, with less?” For these reasons, federal finance leaders are thinking creatively about their operational processes and workforce.

The increasing interest in process robotics within federal finance and accounting organizations is driven by three major factors—improved speed, improved accuracy, and increased organizational capacity. Bots are able to execute automated processes significantly faster than currently performed by the workforce, 24 hours a day, without making processing errors. These new organizational capabilities allow employees previously performing these tasks to focus on higher-value tasks that require human thought and decision-making or to work on an ever-increasing work backlog.

Virtually any organization that has implemented or started a bot project can attest—the interest only grows as the first bots are deployed and everyone else gets to witness the excitement around bots and the impact the bots have on the organization.

Implementing process robotics in your organization

It is easy to find excuses as to why a process robotics project stalls or never starts. Funding could be an issue, new software discussions could raise eyebrows or important stakeholders could be skeptical of organizational benefits. Fighting through these barriers can prove to be difficult, but as you venture into the process robotics world, being prepared to face these issues and naysayers will improve your likelihood for success. As you embark on your process robotics journey, the following considerations below can help you effectively drive value into your organization:

Step 1: Make the leap

  • Start small
  • Involve the right stakeholders
  • Don’t go at it alone
  • Pick a vendor
  • Train your people

Step 2: Establish your operating model early

  • Prioritize your governance
  • Shared service or center of excellence?
  • How do you handle scaling?

Step 3: Explode the value

  • Bots, bots everywhere!
  • Build an internal staffing model
  • Bots as a service
  • Take the next leap
Green spiral pattern

Are you ready?

Finance robotics is here and is rapidly growing in the federal space. Finance organizations across the government are getting smarter each day, creating intelligent, efficient processes, freeing up resources to perform thought-driven work, and creating additional capacity within the organization.

The only question that remains is who will drive process robotics across your agency or department? And what role will your finance organization serve in the initiative?

An emerging solution to unfunded mandates and shrinking federal workforce

The federal government is facing unprecedented operating challenges as they manage mounting budget constraints while trying to be more agile to increase mission objectives. Unable, in many cases, to hire more federal employees, federal agencies are forced to spend dollars on contractor support or shift resources away from mission-critical work to handle these routine, manual tasks. Process robotics can provide federal agencies the capability to operate more efficiently with reduced resources.

green sparkler light

Meet the authors

Marc Mancher is a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and leads its Federal Strategy Analytics and Robotics business lines. Prior to his current role, he led Deloitte’s Commercial Insourcing and Outsourcing Advisory business lines. Over the past 25 years, Marc has advised, built, run, and/or operated information technology, human resources, and finance shared service centers on and off-shore.
Chris Huff is a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP, leading the Federal Process Robotics business. Chris uses robotics to help clients improve their business models and empower the workforce so they can focus people and resources on activities that produce the greatest value. Prior to joining Deloitte five years ago, Chris retired from the US Marine Corps as a controller.
Robert Grabowski is a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP in the Federal Finance practice based in Washington DC. He has more than 17 years of experience providing finance transformation and systems support, including multiple process robotics program implementations, to finance organizations throughout the federal government.
Jamie Thomas is a manager at Deloitte Consulting LLP in the Federal Finance practice based in Washington DC. He has more than 13 years of experience employing process robotics, implementing finance transformation strategies including full process and task automation, and providing financial analysis to organizations throughout the federal government and commercial sector.
Did you find this useful?