It is not an exaggeration to say that Robotics Process Automation (RPA) has become the go to technology to address business process waste, and Human Resources and Finance are the top two internal enterprise target areas. Driven by the need to stay competitive, decrease costs and increase efficiency, RPA is quickly making
a significant impact in HR. It is no longer a question of whether to implement, but when. RPA automates workflows via Robots (i.e., robotic process automation software) that execute a sequence of steps to eliminate manual human effort and errors.
RPA Selection Criteria
The first step in making the case for the use of RPA in HR processes is to select the right processes - selecting the wrong ones is quite common and can result in failure. Here are key selection criteria for identifying a "robotizable" task:
- Rules-driven: Processes must be repeatable and consistent.
- Data Intensive: The effort will result in high ROI if it involves the processing of voluminous data. This is important because you don't want to spend more on automation if the return doesn't merit the investment.
- Electronic Trigger: Processes must commence upon a traceable action.
- High Error Rates: Processes prone to human error, such as paper-based data entry.
- Manual Calculations: Tasks that involve manual calculation of results, particularly where one error leads to another.
- Cycle Time Limitations: Seasonal work overload or round the clock tasks that cannot scale given cost prohibitive requirement for human labor
- High Business Impact: Processes that involve resolving complaints, completing orders, collecting payments, etc.
- Process Interruption: - Processes the contain intermittent manual steps between the execution of setps with digital inputs and outputs.
- High Compliance: - Processes that require adherence to rules and audit proof to demonstrate regulatory compliance.
- Cross-System Validation: - Tasks involving multiple systems where validation is required at each synapse.
It is much easier to make the case for something when it has already been successfully done by others, particularly when those others are your competitors! Following are key use cases in HR that fit the above criteria and have been most successful in making the case for RPA.
Recruiting: Candidate sourcing and screening requires intensive manual effort. Bots can be used to pour through thousands of sources and to come up with a high quality, targeted candidate list. Be sure to see more detail in our blog, Why Robotic Process Automation is a Game Changer for the Recruiting Industry.
Onboarding/New Hire: This is one of the top target areas for process improvement given the importance of first impressions in the new hire experience and the complexities of coordinating everything a new employee requires, across departments (e.g., an average of 8 accounts like email, web meeting, Sharepoint; badge, physical access and parking; benefits; new hire training, etc.). These processes can be dramatically improved and delivered on time with RPA-based bots. A predefined new hire workflow can be triggered once an individual accepts their new position and confirms the start date. These workflows could include the following:
- Based on employee profile the bot can make decisions on the types of accounts required and level of access
- Bot can either create these accounts or populate an Identity Access Management (IAM) system which would then drive execution of account creation
- Bots can send onboarding documents at X days before or after start date
- Bot can remind the employee to make health benefit elections, and mark the process complete when appropriate
- Bot can schedule employee training based on start date and available classes
- Bot can trigger welcome emails, receive and route questions from the new hire
Training Administration: Most organizations have a Learning Management System (LMS), but using them can be a project. For example, most top LMS's have 150+ fields of information for a course! For organizations that offer a lot of courses, course creation becomes a big resource drain. Furthermore, handling registration, the awarding of credits or closeout is an even bigger one. Be sure to see more detail in our blog, Process Automation in the Learning Organization: A Deployment Necessity and a Strategic Consideration.
Employee Data Management: Think of all the data that HR professionals manage, across many disparate/unintegrated systems (e.g., payroll, assignments, positions, performance, benefits, compliance, training), for current employees, past employees and applicants. RPA can be implemented to ensure accurate and complete employee data throughout the employee lifecycle. Continuous data validation and cleansing activities can be executed to ensure consistency across multiple systems in various formats.
Employee Support Emails: Most organizations, particularly large enterprises, have an HR support team that must respond to voluminous numbers of tickets on a daily basis, and during peak season (e.g., open enrollment, year end), headcount must be augmented to handle the demand. A bot can be programmed to provide custom responses for specific types of tickets at great cost and time savings, while increasing customer satisfaction and reducing cycle time.
Forms Processing: HR processes a myriad of electronic and paper-based forms. Paper forms can be read by a bot, and data uploaded or processed to an application, thereby eliminating manual data entry. Human error is eliminated, cycle time is dramatically improved and paper cost and storage can be eliminated.
Reporting: HR reporting is very time-consuming because managing humans is data intensive: data is frequently needed in a variety of formats, in the right place, for various cross sections of the population (e.g., all managers in X business line who have been with the company X years on X capacity), by a variety of process owners and stakeholders who have HR-related responsibility...the manual effort required is exponential as the number of employees increases. It is not uncommon for humans to spend hours manually crafting and updating reports and dashboards over and over again. RPA can be implemented to fulfill complex, high volume, periodic reporting requirements.
Exit Management/Offboarding: When an employee exits, it is of highest importance to ensure that this happens in a consistent and considerate manner. Manual processes during the separation phase are error-prone and raise audit flags in many cases. RPA can be implemented to ensure a better organized off-boarding and de-provisioning process by automating process parts, e.g. consolidate all leavers’ input and feed to downstream systems, generate exit documents, conduct exit surveys, notify the right people, revoke systems access, collect company assets and process final payments.
The intelligent automation of HR workflow processing is here to stay, and making the case has never been easier given the large number of successful enterprise use cases that now exist. If your HR department hasn't started this journey, 2020 is the year!
Be sure to review our other use-case focused blogs: