RES​​EARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • Survey finds that federal agencies are constrained by low process maturity
  • Six out of 10 federal business processes were either fully or partially manual, with just six percent described as fully optimized and digital
  • Federal agencies looking to meet heightened citizen expectations and reduce operational costs should take advantage of digital process automation


The growing maturity and pervasiveness of the Internet and digital technologies have upended the traditional one-size-fits-all service model. Today’s audiences expect truly personalized services and experiences drawn from one-to-one engagements. And these increasingly complex online interactions are not limited to only citizen experiences. Government business processes have become more intricate and dynamic with common needs, including:

  • Enforcing very detailed business rules
  • Responding quickly to more asymmetrical threats, new legislation and regulations, and continuous operational changes
  • Shifting to just-in-time suppliers and leaner inventories

Federal agencies often struggle to meet these new expectations consistently.

In contrast, Web-native firms like Amazon are built from the ground-up to thrive in this digital environment—while traditional enterprises and government agencies were not. This difference in agility is reflected in the way that enterprise systems have evolved over the years:

Enterprise applications (1980s – Now)

Focused on standardizing core processes (finance, supply chain, customer service) to scale operations; limited integration created functional silos.

Business process management (Late 1990s – Now)

Ability to integrate & orchestrate processes spanning multiple apps & operations; frequent focus on analytics & process management methodologies.

Digital process automation (2010s – Now)

Extends reach of process automation & orchestration to a broader array of customer-focused requirements, integrate Intelligent Automation/RPA into workflow.

Role of digital process automation

Digital process automation allows federal agencies to extend the strengths of their core business processes to all their operations. For example, automating every facet of HR—from onboarding and open enrollment to career development and expense reporting—to deliver a consistent user experience with greater efficiency and control for every interaction. And doing so in a way that is easier to use, faster to deploy and less costly than previously possible with traditional development models.

Agency process maturity a barrier

However, the Accenture Federal Digital Process Maturity Survey found that current digital process maturity is low with many agencies that are still reliant on swivel chair integration. The survey revealed that only six percent described their business processes as digitized—“integrated, automated and optimized, with the added ability to dynamically reconfigure workflow and business rules to address ad hoc requirements.”

Majority of Business Processes

12%

MANUAL: Paper exchange or email integration with ad hoc execution

46%

INTEGRATED: Standardized & integrated, but requiring significant manual processing

23%

AUTOMATED: Integrated & automated; limited manual intervention for exception handling, as needed

12%

OPTIMIZED: Integrated & automated; active use of performance monitoring & analytics for continuous process improvement

6%

DIGITIZED: Integrated, automated & optimized; added ability to dynamically reconfigure workflow and business rules to address ad hoc requirements

Agencies recognize that their failure to modernize puts the mission at risk and are now beginning to adopt digital process automation to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.

About the survey

To assess the current state of digital process automation within the federal government, Accenture engaged Market Connections to survey 200 federal government executives across both defense and civilian agencies. These were program leaders with mission, business or operational responsibilities for business processes and service delivery within their agency.

As a benchmark for digital transformation of business processes, we defined a framework for measuring overall maturity:

  • MANUAL – Paper exchange or email integration with ad hoc execution
  • INTEGRATED – Standardized and integrated but still requiring significant manual processing
  • AUTOMATED – Integrated and automated with limited manual intervention for exception handling as needed
  • OPTIMIZED – Integrated and automated with active use of performance monitoring and analytics for continuous process improvement
  • DIGITIZED – Integrated, automated and optimized, with the added ability to dynamically reconfigure workflow and business rules to address ad hoc requirements (e.g., automated adjudication for exception handling, redirecting workflow due to surge in demand)

Dave McClure

Principal Director – Federal CIO Advisory Services


Malcolm Jackson

Principal Director – Federal CIO Advisory Services

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