UPDATED 16:24 EDT / OCTOBER 27 2023


Through automation, VITAL empowers citizen developers within the Singapore government

Government agencies being understaffed with tight budgets isn’t new. VITAL, set up by the Singaporean Ministry of Finance in 2006, combines common corporate services in areas such as human resources, finance and procurement within the public sector to achieve scale, improve efficiency, strengthen governance and enhance service quality.

With a crop of about 500 employees serving more than 100,000 government workers and over 100 agencies, the department has embraced automation to revolutionize its operations and equip its non-tech workforce as citizen developers.

“We need to figure out how to empower and equip our people,” said Dennis Lui (pictured, right), chief executive of VITAL — the central agency for corporate shared services in the Singapore Public Service. “In Singapore, we face labor constraints and labor shortages. My bosses, to their credit, are happy to invest in technology. But even if I wanted to hire another 500 or 1000 people, I just cannot find them. I have to look for solutions, technological solutions that allow us to put our people at the center and augment their capabilities even better.”

Lui and Muhammad Khidhir (left), senior section manager at VITAL, spoke with theCUBE industry analysts Lisa Martin and Rebecca Knight at the UiPath FORWARD event, during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed VITAL embracing automation and cultivating a culture of innovation to achieve significant productivity gains. (* Disclosure below.)

Empowering the workforce: The three levels of automation

VITAL employs automation at three delineated levels: the individual, team and enterprise levels, according to Khidhir. Individual automation involves streamlining personal tasks, such as generating monthly reports.

Team automation addresses the needs of specific departments, such as human resources and payroll. Enterprise-level automation bridges system gaps and enhances efficiency organization-wide. The goal is to create a culture where employees use automation to make their work more manageable and enjoyable.

“My solution is for the vendor to basically take the ticket listing from their own system and then give it to us,” Khidhir explained. “And then the script will take over from there. It will do the mapping and the manipulation, and then email each and every single VITAL staff of their tickets that are pending for actions. To any of this, I created a shared platform whereby the VITAL staff can actually report inaccurate ticket statuses.”

Overcoming challenges: The cultural shift in adopting automation

In such an enterprise cultural shift, there’s a critical question of the potential risks of non-technical staff engaging in technical tasks.

The implementation of consistent governance and auditing standards is therefore critical, according to Lui. Those organizational control and governance frameworks ensure security and audit trails are maintained, and internal audits have validated their approach.

“In the government, especially where security and confidentiality are so important when we roll out these technologies, the IT security side of the house [needs] to make sure that every step, everything that a bot does, has an audit trail,” Lui explained.” So all that we do within our systems are completely compliant with that.”

The belief in employees’ capabilities and the desire to make work better are essential driving factors to successful automation. There’s a need for a “bottom-up” approach where employees take the first bold steps towards automation, supported by training and tools, Lui added.

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the UiPath FORWARD event:

(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the UiPath FORWARD event. Neither UiPath Inc., the sponsor of theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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