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Bridging IT Budgets and Agency Needs With Automation: Where to Start

Ryan Wolfe, Iron Bow Technologies

February 6, 2019  |  Networking


A five percent reduction in spending is expected in the coming year, despite increasing technology demands.

Technology is essential to nearly every federal government priority, from helping our warfighters identify the safest, most effective path to accomplish their missions to enabling the average citizen to take advantage of government services. With inevitable budget cuts, IT automation offers a solution that can help agencies continue to accomplish more.

Shifting away from manual and inefficient processes cuts down on the need for federal workers to be online at midnight hours and allows employees to spend time on tasks that require human intelligence. Deloitte finds technologies like robotic process automation (RPA) could save government 1.1 billion working hours annually.

With automation, government can better utilize its IT partners as well. Developing a script can take a person as many as 80 hours, but automation can accomplish much of this so an agency isn’t using their IT vendors for these basic tasks. As a part of the troubleshooting process, automation can gather pertinent information so human minds are used to assess more challenging questions and determine solutions, rather than spending hours simply collecting data.

The federal government has recognized the value of automation, even weaving it into the 2018 President’s Management Agenda, but there is still a lot of room to increase the use of automated technologies. Even if agencies take small steps and start with automating minor tasks, they have a lot to gain.

As with many technologies, the first priority is to get teams on board and develop the right skill sets. This is largely a mindset shift requiring active consideration of what processes could easily be automated. The White House action plan requires the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to launch pilot programs, so getting in the habit of identifying places where automation can have a meaningful impact in some cases is not just a recommendation, but a requirement.

Once potential opportunities for automation are identified, there are many free resources available to provide guidance. The open source community is a great place to start, as most challenges that agencies face aren’t new to the world of IT. It’s likely someone has already explored a similar use case and found a way to simplify the process with automation.

Most importantly, after identifying potential workloads and tasks for automation, the next step is to seek partners and vendors that can act as a guide through automation—ideally a partner that utilizes automation themselves.

Iron Bow’s strategic partners, including Cisco with Cisco DevNet and VMware with VMware code, have made big investments in developing solutions to support automation and offering free resources to help organizations leverage these products. Iron Bow can help agencies navigate both the best initial path to automation and the technology necessary once an agency has determined the challenge they’ll address.

Automation isn’t all or nothing—it’s an approach that agencies can try piecemeal and expand as they become more comfortable and see results. Automation is one of the most effective tools to bridge the gap between IT budgets and needs.


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