Episode #25 | Low-Code Partner Series – UiPath

  • we@designindc.com
  • December 21, 2022


Announcement: Broadcasting from Fairfax, Virginia. You are now tuned in to the Highlight Cast with your hosts, Adam McNair and Kevin Long.

Adam McNair: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Highlight Cast. Hi, this is Adam McNair and I am joined today by Kevin Long. Hey, Kevin, how are you?

Kevin Long: I’m great, adam. How are you doing today? 

Adam McNair: Great. Thanks. Also joined by Emilie Scantlebury Is that a fair way to look at it? It’s what lets the. Emilie , how are you? 

Emilie Scantlebury: I’m doing well. Thanks. 

Adam McNair: Good. So, we’ve been talking recently about some of our vendor partnerships, platforms that we work with a lot. Today, we wanted to talk a little bit about both a platform and a technology concept. So to start, we’re going to talk a little bit about UiPath today. But specifically about robotic process automation and we’ve been exposed to this. We’ve done work at Homeland Security. We’ve done some work at DoD. We’ve done a lot of process automation and it can be done in a lot of different ways. We’ve seen it done in custom applications and so forth, but Emily, I wanted to start with you. Could you talk a little bit about what UiPath is and what some of the use cases that you’ve seen that led to taking the step in the investment to become a UiPath channel partner and certified partner? So could you talk a little bit about that?

Emilie Scantlebury: Absolutely, so UiPath is a really powerful tool when used effectively in agencies. I recently, earlier this year, attended the Rocky Mountain Cyberspace Symposium through the Rocky Mountain chapter from AFCIA over in Rocky Mountain, Colorado. And I actually attended a four hour session where they taught you end to end how to use UiPath. And right there, that’s another really big benefit of UiPath. It’s very low barrier to entry, low code, easy to learn to kind of implement from day one, but big picture, what UiPath I think really brings to the table to their customers is an empowerment to their citizen developers to help automate their workflows and kind of remove old. Those repetitive actions that they may be doing. So if I am person A, and every day I’m updating Excel sheet B to give to my boss, which goes up the chain, instead of having to spend 4 or 5 hours updating that Excel sheet, now I can literally save thousands of keystrokes to just look at the data output and elevate not only my thinking or my ability to contribute, but also just With that being able to elevate that type of thinking of actually, what is the data telling me? How do I input it? I can actually make a bigger impact across my organization really thinking about organizational impact when we are able to elevate that and elevate organizational impact to the end user level that value chain goes all the way up. That organizations are quicker. They’re more efficient. They are better able to solve their problems and frankly, better able to see that. Problems outside of just day to day process could be more effective, eventually. 

Adam McNair: UiPath. We have used UiPath. We have also used kind of custom macro Word. There’s a pretty wide continuum, I think, of how one would do process automation in general, and drawing the line of when is it robotic and when is it just automation. To me, that has to do with how much assessment and understanding of what is coming in is being done. I’ve been involved in, we didn’t call it robotic, we just called it process automation. They were things like, when you were going to provision something, an event would happen, a new employee would start, and you know, some of the organizations that I’ve worked programs with have 50, 60, 100, 000, Or more employees. So the onboarding and provisioning is a lot. Somebody shows up and they get assigned to a given organization and you could automatically launch the, create all these accounts, provision some web space for them, automatically ship some hardware. There were a lot of things that frankly would end up turning a ticket into a bunch of emails that would go out and do things. And to me that was a gain of efficiency. But really not that technically complicated. It was not that much more than a macro that when something came into your, your ticketing system, it spit out a whole bunch of instructions to a bunch of different people to do a whole bunch of different things. I’ve also seen some application process automation where it was kind of like a, Mechanical hopper system that when something would come in, it would look at what was being requested and based on what type of form it was, it was kind of a form handler. You knew what the process was going to be, but we’ve gotten a lot more complex in assessing and understanding what’s coming in. Now, Kevin, I know some of the application programs that we’ve been a part of. Managed run, etc. Some of the places we’ve used up UI path. Some we’ve, you know, we’ve we’ve used other legacy tools. What kinds of use cases have you seen for sure? Robotic process automation 

Kevin Long: with RPA. I mean, really, it’s. Especially as it’s getting more and more sophisticated, you can integrate them more and more with the homegrown hardcore apps that we support otherwise. But anytime someone has to do the same thing over and over again, right? We see it a lot in form processing. Like we’ve worked with things like correspondents coming in and people needing to check for particular things, you know, Check boxes somewhere and it would file things to different ways right and same person would have to look at 100 different correspondence elements coming in before lunch and that sort of thing literally became their job as, you know, a new office spun up and they were having to do that. All this comes in and that’s all they’re doing. Instead of focusing on innovating or changing or process improvement or anything like that, they’re, they’re reading correspondence. Something like RPA comes in, you can have it just trigger on receipt of correspondence, check it, file it, move on, and then you’re looking at the fallout. Like the things that don’t match the standard criteria and things like that. And so you’re really bringing up so much time and brain space with your folks with that. And with UiPath where you’re able to have API integrations where it can process and not just put it in a queue and say, Hey, now you need to do these things. Awesome. Grabs data out of it, can read information from forms and then execute things inside your custom develop apps. And it’s More and more powerful as things are going with that and with, you know, learning algorithms getting put into it and things like that. It could things get better and it allows you to have your people focus on things that really only people can do. Right? And so you can literally just have a robot doing the robotic things for you. 

Adam McNair: Now, one of my kind of early introductions to this type of automation used to work with Kristen Summers, who was at IBM for a very long time, and she’s now a operating unit CTO at Microsoft, right? And the kinds of things That she was doing around natural language processing work. Frankly, it’s one of those staggering, right? She’s, she’s a genius. It’s a, she was always way smarter than me anyway, but the, the, just the, the kinds of things that she did around natural language processing, it was, it was frankly fascinating to even see that you could get technology to do that for you. Yep. So yeah, that Joe Smith 

Kevin Long: and Joseph Smith, probably the same, same person. 

Adam McNair: Well, and let me tell you, using names like that makes it staggering. I could tell you a story about running a language processing on a name that had, I want to say it was like something like 14 or 16 letters and had no vowels in it. Yep. And that was Because it’s been translated by, you know, from, from different character sets and whatever, but so there are super complicated, you know, use cases for things like that. One of the other kind of concepts that she introduced to me was around data finding data. That the data insights that you don’t have to know what your insight you’re looking for. That’s kind of like Little League version of data analytics. The data itself will tell you what you should be looking for. So is UiPath capable of being engaged in your process and identifying potential automations? It seems like that’s one of the benefits of having a platform like that, is it helps you identify areas where you could automate and gain efficiency. From the times where we’ve implemented a UI path or a automation, the governance behind allowing that automation, have either of you seen an instance working with customers to get them to allow this machine or this robot to make that choice for them? The machine might come up and say, I think there’s an opportunity to automatically approve X. Absolutely. Kevin, what’s been your experience working with a customer to get, you know, get the governance around that? 

Kevin Long: So, That that is the it’s actually getting easier and easier because that’s the crux of machine learning, right? Where the machines have to go out and be able to look at the data to learn the different things. We weren’t doing it directly, but we were working around with the folks that like NGA where they look at, you know, is this a truck? Is this a truck with a tarp thrown different things like that? Uh, and so they would have to go out and be able to have access to be able to do that stuff. And so a lot of the concerns around that when you’re having machines have access to that, they all have to have in terms of governance, they’re going to have to have access to the systems for that. And, and so the security folks get nervous, the more holes that you put into it and where machines can do that and where you can vet. A person for security things, what a machine can do and be programmed to do bugs come up all the time and what it’s allowed to do and manipulate and understand and have access to is is sometimes more nebulous and difficult to predict and so coming up with rules around how it’s secured what access they can have to it, whether or not it’s allowed to commit changes to systems of record and things like that. come into play. But as data discovers data and learns about things and your processes get more and more automated, uh, we’re getting more sophisticated. Approaches to the governance around access, availability and using these types of processes 

Adam McNair: makes a lot of sense. I think it’s very common that the technology is not the issue that your organizational governance and your decision making and applying metrics around your business and finding value has a whole lot more to do with implementing a technology program than the technology itself that Emily, you mentioned a little bit that you had, you know, gone to a UiPath conference and had done hands on UiPath work. If somebody’s interested in learning more about UiPath or those kinds of events and opportunities, how were you finding out about them? What was the overall time commitment? Could you talk a little bit about what that experience was like? 

Emilie Scantlebury: Yeah, absolutely. So there are various UiPath events. Across the country, I usually look for them in conferences, just big technology conferences that we’re going to period UiPath in general, just that the platform has a really big push right now around getting this platform and software out into the hands of people at these conferences. So they’re putting on these boot camps. Um, and they’re putting them on in places like him, that Rocky Mountain. They just recently had a UiPath event in DC that I went to where they weren’t necessarily doing that bootcamp thing, but what they were talking about UiPath at large and how it’s implemented. Studio UiPath is available online for free. So you can download that, get the plug in, it plugs into Kevin’s point, it can plug into things like your Excel, your Word, whatever it may be, and you can really just be a self learner, a self teacher, and you can get in there. It’s very self explanatory, very friendly UI, UX. Um, and similarly to other platforms has an extensive online community. Um, so I think a combination of those two will help kind of guide and navigate a new user to introduction into UiPath and how to get started. 

Adam McNair: I think that’s a good introduction. And what I would also say is just as a person that has worked on programs, trying to automate processes and trying to, uh, Automate processing of decent size collections of data. There’s so many times, so much manual labor involved in operating a large scale program. And I think a lot of times when we are looking for efficiencies of scale and technical efficiencies, and we’re talking a lot about the application of the IT spend and so much, it’s the mission side. You know, we’ve done a lot of work with the SBA. We’ve done a lot of work with Health and Human Services on grants and loan processing. And when you start to look at the individual steps of the process and decisions that sometimes feel like a decision, but when you talk to the team about it, what you realize is 98 percent of the time, it’s always one answer. And you can also find out that the reason it would be A yes versus a no is sometimes pretty simple, and so that kind of process analysis and looking for efficiency is can have a dramatic impact, not just on your organization. From a budgeting and resource standpoint, it can free up resources to go do other things that are mission critical, but it’s also from a from a user experience or customer experience perspective, waiting for days or weeks To get through a gate in a process that might be able to be handled automatically by your, your software powered by a tool like UiPath can have massive benefit. A lot of us sit and look at user experience and customer experience stats on a continual basis on some of the programs we support. And we talk a lot about it. We talk about how we can have our customers be happier with some of the tools that we build. And sometimes waiting is just the problem. And so the ability to increase the cycle time can have a real positive impact. So if you’re interested in that kind of information about how to introduce efficiency, how to increase customer engagement or customer experience around a process like that, there’s certainly more information available on our website, HighlightTech. com. You can reach out directly to us, either through the website, through LinkedIn. You can also watch our LinkedIn site. We put a lot of content out as we talk about program experiences, successes, lessons learned, and our experiences with, with these kinds of platforms. I want to thank Kevin and Emily. Thanks for taking the time to, uh, to sit down and talk about our experience with RPA and UiPath. Thanks again for listening to the highlight cast, and we will talk to you again on the next episode. 

The views and opinions expressed in this episode are those of the hosts and do not necessarily reflect Highlight Technologies and or any agency of the U. S. government.