Page 33 - FCW, November/December 2021
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By deploying bots, agencies can improve efficiencies in these three stages of the records lifecycle:
• Ingest/capture. Instead of a human needing to look at every document that comes into the agency and manually apply a file plan or retention schedule, Doller says a bot can recognize the document and automatically apply appropriate document retention and policy information.
• Document classification. In the past, a human would have to review a document and look for specific verbiage that indicated the document should get marked classified, top secret, or unclassified. Here again, Doller said a bot can determine the document’s classification, then identify and mark whether it’s classified content.
• File disposition and document destruction. Humans traditionally have had to manually keep track of retention and destruction schedules. Instead of notifying a user when a document needs to be archived or destroyed, Doller said RPA can send the documents to a repository for archiving, and then automatically delete the documents that the agency no longer needs.
“The idea is to eliminate the bottleneck of manual human intervention when it’s possible,” said Doller. “Agencies can take a big step forward and quickly deploy RPA bots to propel records management into the age of intelligent automation.”
RPA offers new path
Rich Rowe, solutions engineer at Hyland, added that agencies may be clinging to paper on a cultural level, or have set the goal that electronic document management needs to be based on a single system where all information lives in one place. That is the notion of “one source of the truth.”
RPA looks for “where the clicks are happening” in
a system and acts as a standalone workflow engine, Rowe said. So, for example, if an employee retires from
an agency, the bot can reach across the core systems in the agency to find the right HR documentation. This might include the person’s salary history, medical claims, and tax information.
“Instead of having a worker log-on and off multiple systems to find the information, a bot lets the system work in concert via automated hooks so the relevant documents can be retrieved automatically,” Rowe said. “So once a person retires, an automated workflow is set in motion to find all the information and expedite the process for the retiree to receive benefits.”
Let the bot do it
RPA looks to automate repeatable, rules-based tasks that government workers do every day, according to Doller. For example, records managers would no longer need to send email notifications that an employee’s records were updated every time an employee leaves government service. The bot does it. Another example: Administrators can create rules that stipulate that a department should automatically upload and send all of its financial documents to specific people to prepare for an audit at the end of each fiscal year.
“People needing to contact multiple individuals and physically log-in and log-out of systems is eliminated,” Doller said. “They no longer have to fill out an information request form, where someone has to look up the information and, then in many cases, hand-deliver paper records to the agency where someone then has to input all the documents.”
Automating document and records management
will also let agencies consolidate redundant systems, according to Doller. Very often, federal agencies run well in excess of 20 systems. With RPA, they can identify which systems they really need, then write “hooks” that integrate the systems and workflows together so the agency can run more efficiently, he said.
Federal agencies that are seeking a provider to help digitize and automate records management processes should look for several critical capabilities. The vendor’s system should be certified to the DOD’s 5015.02 Chapter 3 standard for both classified and unclassified electronic records. Also, a platform that is open-source, cloud native and can run in the secure DOD versions of Amazon Web Services helps reduce exposure while maximizing efficiencies.
“If the platform runs in the cloud, it can scale dynamically,” Doller said, who added that federal agencies often provision tens of thousands of users. Adding those tens of thousands in the cloud can help keep costs in check.
Hyland’s solutions help federal agencies meet today’s challenges of digital transformation, modernization and information governance while laying the foundation
for simplified, streamlined and digital government. To hear more on automating records management, go to To learn more about robotic process automation, visit

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