Blog | Apr 12, 2019

Process Automation in Government Agencies: Scalability


While every process automation initiative needs to begin with initial proofs of concept, the ultimate goal is to scale the benefits to a wider audience. In the federal government, this scaling might be to more employees and citizens within a single agency, or across multiple agencies.

We pointed out in other blogs that there are considerable differences in total cost of ownership, credentialing and security, and in the benefits that can be achieved through robotic desktop automation (RDA) versus robotic process automation (RPA).

Here, let’s take a look at the variances in how RDA and RPA scale to meet organizations’ requirements. Note that because every RPA product approaches scalability in a different way, the following compares RDA and Blue Prism digital workers.

Handling increased workloads

One of the keys to maximizing your investment in process automation technology is making sure it supports large numbers of robots working together to carry out many instances of a business process, and includes a way to easily change which business process each robot is executing at any given time.

RDA bots fall a bit short here, as they’re inherently tied to the user desktops on which they reside. In effect, they’re bounded by the fundamental limits of the desktop itself. There’s only so much memory and storage on a desktop, and with a high enough workload there simply isn’t enough processing power to complete the process. This is doubly true if a human user is working on the desktop at the same time, as he or she is competing with the bot for resources.

On the other hand, every Blue Prism digital worker runs on its own Windows virtual machine (VM), and each VM runs on one or more server machines. Because there’s no competition for processing power, multiple Blue Prism digital workers can work collectively on the same case load. And because many digital workers can work together, they can complete the work in a fraction of the time it would take an single desktop bot. Blue Prism also allows the number of digital workers allocated to a process to be instantaneously scaled up as needed, which is especially critical when working with high-priority work items or on items with rigid SLA response times.

Expanding usage scope

This aspect of scalability means support for broadening how and where process automation technology is used.

Most organizations begin their RPA journey by automating simple, repetitive, mundane tasks, such as invoice processing or general ledger reconciliation. When they see how easy it is to create a process automation and how many hours are returned to the business because of it, they start to think about where else they can use their new digital capability.

Business processes automated with Blue Prism rely on one or more virtual business objects (VBO) which are reusable across an unlimited number of applications and processes. So once an organization has created a VBO, it’s much faster to create the other processes. Reusable VBOs are also much easier to maintain, as only the business object itself needs to be updated; modifications automatically propagate along to each dependent process. This reusability makes it much easier for organizations to rapidly increase the scope of their RPA journey.

With RDA, creating individual process automations via desktop recording is quick and easy. But the recordings aren’t reusable across processes. As a result, the user needs to spend time recording each process automation individually, in its entirety. And because recordings can’t be modified, automated processes can’t be maintained.

Accessing other technologies

Automated business processes often need to access other technologies, such as new applications or integration technologies. And other software might need to access your automated processes.

The Blue Prism platform enables creation of process automations using whatever applications and systems are already in use in the organization. The platform also serves as a gateway to new technologies, such as powerful artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions, through our Digital Exchange, which provides pre-configured skills that non-technical users download and drop into their process.

In comparison, RDA doesn’t contain a mechanism for dropping intelligent automation skills into a process recording. While a user could record the action using software development kit (SDK) software to connect to an API, they’d need to possess the technical know-how to interact with the SDK and API before doing so. And any time there were updates or changes to the process, they’d need to record it again.

To learn more about the differences in how RDA and RPA scale, please contact me directly at [email protected].