As the federal government grows increasingly interconnected, decisions must be made across departments and sub-organizations – and a meaningful tool must support this complex tasking reality.

From acquisition requests to promotion packages to policy changes, decisions propelling the Department of Defense’s mission have historically been made by sending emails and paper packets through staff coordination for senior leader approval. These methods can no longer give our Defense decision-makers the information or insights at the pace today’s world demands.

An advanced task management system provides the efficiency required for a modern federal agency. For example, Accenture’s Task Management Tool (TMT), our product built on Microsoft’s commercial-off-the-shelf Power Platform, is a comprehensive solution made to process the entire tasking lifecycle in a single tool.

But in on-premises environments, task management’s scalability and flexibility are limited by the ability to add hardware and software services in Department of Defense (DoD) data centers.

In January 2021, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) issued Microsoft a much-anticipated Impact Level 5 (IL5) Cloud Computing Security Requirements Guide authorization on its Power Apps, Power Automate, and Dynamics 365 low code/no code platforms. This authorization opens the door to the future of task management in the cloud for the DoD.

In the DoD, TMT has been facilitating the processing of taskers since 2007 and has grown to over 125,000 users. TMT currently operates on the DoD’s classified and unclassified networks as well as in Azure IL5 environments using the on-premises version of Microsoft’s platform. The IL5 authorization from DISA gives the green light to take our automated task management system to the cloud, harnessing the tool’s existing influence and opening the door to the power of cloud native capabilities, including elastic scale, enhanced mobility, pre-built connectors for integration, predictive learning, and advanced analytics.

For the DoD, innovation at speed is the new advantage. With the efficiency of these new capabilities, staff can provide more productive and informed recommendations while freeing senior leaders to focus on high-value tasks.

Cloud supports innovative technologies for automated task management

With the cloud’s streamlined infrastructure, tighter security, and capacity to leverage larger amounts of data more efficiently, powerful technologies such as machine learning and applied intelligence come to life.

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Predictive learning: Machine learning, for example, can be applied to tasks to better predict routing and assignment patterns while introducing automation to execute. Acquisition requests, for example, may follow a coordination and approval pattern that, with machine learning, can be automated for the user. Alternatively, answers from previous tasks with similar questions can be automatically offered for consideration to users working their tasks. These improvements are then tangibly felt in people’s day-to-day lives as their work becomes more intuitive and more streamlined processes cut costs.

Advanced analytics: Cloud native capabilities will drive advanced analytics, to help government partners make better decisions in real-time. For Defense leaders, attention to detail and high-quality information can help save lives. As a Navy leader once told me, “we pay attention to detail so that young men and women don't die unnecessarily in war.” Confusion, even on routine tasks, robs leaders of the white space they need to think critically about the really important decisions that may have life and death consequences. Cloud native advanced analytics produce increasingly detailed and relevant information, helping Defense leaders stay focused on the mission and making the best course of action for certain tasks more apparent. The stakes are high, and these new capabilities can significantly enhance mission-critical processes.

Cloud facilitates rapid scaling of automated task management

Using applied intelligence, machine learning, and advanced analytics, agencies can make automated task management more efficient and productive. With cloud infrastructure, overhead is stripped down; configuring, integrating, and migrating environments is streamlined. Furthermore, hosting becomes simpler. Debates and complexities around required on-premises hosting will be phased out.

Reducing and eliminating these infrastructure barriers means task management systems become increasingly scalable. Fewer resources are required to establish environments, allowing people to focus on what’s most important, while low code/no code configurations and automation make improvements more accessible to accomplish across a delivery team. The establishment of an automated task management tool will be as simple as turning on and consuming the service, providing rapid time to value for key DoD stakeholders. This scalable infrastructure, paired with new cloud-native technologies, creates a new pace and framework for task management possibilities.

With the IL5 authorization from DISA, automated task management is poised to change rapidly and for the better. This transformation is what the mission demands, and we are grateful for the opportunity to help agencies meet those needs, now and in the future.

Thank you to my colleagues Anna Pollard and Alison Hafez for contributing their expertise to this blog.

Jim Stout

Managing Director – Accenture Federal Services, Microsoft Power Platform Capabilities

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