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U.S. Commerce Bots Speed HR Services Delivery

The U.S. Commerce Department is utilising bots to cut the time it takes employees to correct inaccurate forms and process records from hours to minutes – a game-changer that’s giving employees in the Enterprise Services (ES) time to focus on more complicated customer service tasks.

ES looks for a return on time, not necessarily a return on costs. As a  shared-services contact centre, time is of the essence in responding to the customers and having folks available to respond to customers. ES is also providing Robotic Process Automation as a service to the whole department. RPA is the next level of basic automation that has been around for years.

The bot enables employees to take a business process and automate it from start to finish. I can have a bot that can do multiple functions, such as looking for things. One HR bot ingests 55,000 personnel records daily and processes them into ES’ service management system, which starts and ends employee services, updates information on employees, such as where they work, and drives workflows.

The bot also downloads data via an application programming interface from the Treasury Department’s HRConnect and looks for those records with differences. This “delta run” takes about 45 minutes to execute, while a full load takes about two hours. The bot stitches the information together and loads it into Commerce’s staging environment inside a ServiceNow platform.

The ability to focus on exceptions is crucial. ES is investing in automation that allows to put the routine stuff up on the shelf and let it run so that the team is really providing customer service toward those cases that are exception-based. Whereas many call centres have a goal of getting people on and off phones quickly, ES emphasises engaging in meaningful conversations because the routine stuff is taking care of itself. Employees in the call centres are now providing a much more personalised experience, which is what someone wants in an HR call centre.

The first bot ES built used screen-scraping technology to reduce the burden on employees who were reading service-request forms to make sure they were filled out correctly. One request can have five associated forms that must all have consistent data in fields such as name and contact information.

The bot can ensure the quality and accuracy of these requests in about 45 seconds, highlighting any forms with mismatched fields so that they can be copied and pasted from the log file, put into ServiceNow, and returned to requesters to fix within minutes or hours – a process that used to take two to three days.

Currently, ES is working on a bot that loads information coalesced across multiple systems and platforms into its service management platform. “This bot verifies every ounce of that data, so it’s coming from one system, being downloaded, loaded into a staging environment, transformed and hitting target destinations in our service management system. This bot quickly looks at that entire life cycle and validates that beginning to end.

The bot has looked through thousands of rows from a subsystem, verified the quality and will point to any failures in that process, allowing ES to quickly correct those exceptions. ES’ bot journey is not uncommon in the federal government, which is coming around to bots overall. Governments are starting to accept a lot more automation so they can use their resources more wisely.

To support human resources, a variety of digital tools have been created, such as workplace-experience apps. As reported by OpenGov Asia, with employees working in a variety of locations and varying their location day-to-day in some instances, simplifying their work experience and tools is critical. The goal is to give employees a great work experience regardless of their location. Hence, a workplace experience app does this and more by serving as a centralised hub to nearly all information and services employees need to do their job effectively.

Employees can use the app to reserve socially distanced desks, search for and book rooms that meet their spatial and audio/visual requirements, find and book seats near colleagues, navigate to colleagues and key destinations, order food, interact with news feeds and notifications, and submit a work order.

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