Survey: Agencies Still Rely Largely on Manual Business Processes

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A recent survey found agencies’ efforts to modernize business processes are immature.

Federal agencies are lagging notably behind industry when it comes to digital process automation, or using technology to perform a business workflow.

A survey about digital process automation by Accenture Federal Services and Market Connections found modernization efforts around the government’s business processes are immature.

Of the 200 executives across defense and civilian agencies who participated in the survey, 58% reported that most of their business-related processes require either significant or complete manual processing. Though 23% of respondents said their processes are now automated, their teams have not yet taken any active steps to shape and improve performance through analytics.

Further, only 6% described their federal business processes as digitized, which the survey defined as “integrated, automated and optimized, with the added ability to dynamically reconfigure workflow and business rules to address ad hoc requirements.”

Operational data can bring important insights around business processes. More than 60% of respondents said such data is collected at their agencies, but is not well-structured for analysis. This may mean, for example, that it’s missing useful meta-tagging or strong categorization.

“This is significant as it limits [agencies’] ability to improve performance and offer more intelligent services,” the report said.

Similarly, system-based rules and logic can support both business processes and service delivery. More than half of the survey’s respondents said decision-making criteria is well-documented but not fully integrated into their enterprise systems, and 23% reported “significant gaps due to their reliance on legacy technology and/or ad hoc decision-making.” Because of this, 78% of respondents said they are frequently unable to fully automate their business practices.

Still, the majority of federal executives said they were meeting or exceeding performance objectives, particularly around customer satisfaction, which they ranked highest at 76%. “This is surprising given the federal government’s low marks for customer service when measured against other service providers in regular surveys,” the report said.

Accenture suggests the benchmark for performance standards within the federal government should be raised.