Richmond, Va. –
Partnering with the Defense Logistics Agency’s Robotic Process Automation Program this past year, DLA Aviation analysts collaborated with agency activities and major subordinate commands to improve business processes, increase responsiveness and manage costs.
During a 2019 enterprise automation information session, the idea of aviation analysts creating robotic process automation programs, also called bots, was introduced, and then in May 2020, aviation leaders agreed to a pilot program to develop local capability.
This past year, analysts and developers in the DLA Aviation Procurement Process Support Directorate worked with internal aviation customers from the supplier operations directorates to create an automated process they called “Cancel System Generated Quality Notification and Option Post Award Requests automation to production.” The PAR bot development started in February and took about six weeks to implement and went into production in April 2021.
Prior to implementing the automated process, DLA Aviation’s supplier operations directorates employees processed the post award requests, averaging a few hundred per week. These were system generated requests that were not always needed, requiring post award administrators to spend time each month canceling them, either individually or through mass cancellations.
This bot identifies post award requests where no further action is required and cancels the PARs, reducing post award administrators’ monthly workload.
According to DLA Aviation’s Procurement Process Support Deputy Director Carl Allen, with the willing support of their supervisors, four directorate employees carved out time from their already busy schedules to complete training as two functional designers and two more as automation developers with enhanced skills.
The analysts and developers balance the additional workload between their regular job duties and the RPA roles, said Scott Szczesniak, an aviation RPA developer and analyst in Allen’s directorate. “The initiative takes advantage of the higher degree of experience and understanding of those processes that the local analysts have and the fact that the rapid process automation and development platforms for creating bots are not overly technical to understand and learn. “
Functional analysts received approximately 6.5 hours of online training plus on-the-job training and developers had around 102 hours of online training, plus OJT. Developers took both the analyst and developer online training.
The functional analyst works with those requesting the automation to gather details and handle various responsibilities supporting design, build, and testing of automation use cases, said Shiloh Palomino, a procurement and functional analyst in the Procurement Process Directorate. “I have been working in the role of functional analyst which is sometimes called a business analyst. I have also recently completed developer training to learn and support that part of the process going forward.”
Szczesniak is working as a developer and his main role is to use the technical design document created by the functional analysts to write the code to develop a new bot. Also, as developer, he is responsible for “break/fixes” of existing bots that have faulted in production and conversions of existing bots for changes in DLA’s enterprise business systems as well as any customer enhancements.
DLA Aviation analysts are working with members of the enterprise RPA program to explore expanding this bot’s capability agency wide in the future.
DLA Enterprise RPA Program Manager Frank Wood said, “By working with the aviation team, we are looking not only to empower the team to build their own automations to meet their goals and timelines, but also to learn what we need to add to the program so that we can expand the capability agency-wide next year.”
The DLA Aviation workforce can submit ideas for bots through a webform on eWorkplace (DLA Common Access Card required). The directorate leadership along with the RPA team decides what submitted bots will be developed and in what order.