The HR department of any organization is responsible for a plethora of tasks along the hire-to-retire (H2R) process - many of which are repetitive, time consuming and require high degree of reliance on labor intensive processes. These processes are often expensive and inefficient and can lead to high error rates or even compromise compliance levels. And even though HR departments are made by people for people, comprising of manual-driven processes to help employees get work done, what if we told you that robots can help HR become more human?
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has taken the corporate world by a storm. Think of robots as a virtual workforce or a back-office processing center without humans. Any interaction between a human and a computer can be automated. However, processes with repeatable, predictable interactions with IT applications are best suited for RPA. Automation tools allow ‘robots’ to perform routine business processes by reproducing the way that a human interacts with an application through a user interface while following a set of rules. Automation can improve the effectiveness and efficiency of these processes without changing the underlining systems. The cost savings of this are obvious, the cost of a robot license is lower than that of a typical salary. In a human resources department, the benefits of automation go far beyond that. If we automate all the admin-related interactions between an HR manager and a computer, we free up time that could be spent in more human actions, such as solving people's problems or face-to-face time with your employees. Companies worldwide have been adapting and implementing robotic process automation in their HR departments to save up to 40% of time, and allow employees to focus on more valuable, human-centric tasks. According to Gartner by 2022, 65% of organizations that deployed robotic process automation will introduce artificial intelligence, including machine learning and natural language processing algorithms. Another survey conducted by Deloitte reveals that over 100 Shared Services leaders agreed that RPA is a viable, proven solution, with 74% of them planning to investigate the technology in the next year and 22% having piloted or fully implemented RPA. In fact, Deloitte identified more than 50% standard HR processes that could be automated through an RPA tool.
While some would argue that most organizations automated their HR processes long ago, an AIIM study taken in 2016 found that when asked “what is paper usage (%) in the following processes?” the results were as follows:
• Recruiting and selection = 35%
• Employee onboarding = 48%
• Employee file management = 53%
• Policies and procedures administration = 32%
• Employee separation = 48%
So what does this mean? The bad news is that it means that most organizations have not yet moved down the path of HR automation, creating huge inefficiencies and risks in their hiring, retaining, employee servicing and termination practices. The good news is that help is on the way! The most important piece of any successful business is a thriving, productive workforce. Therefore, HR departments have to keep up with the global trends (aka digital transformation) and continuously work on their competitive advantage - or they risk falling behind. High performing HR departments are turning to technology to solve these issues in the form of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Lotus Analyticsprovides advanced RPA technology for HR processes that is able to handle all mundane processes, repetitive tasks, without any disruptions and costly integrations. Even most complex scenarios and processes to be automated in a precise and controlled manner through these solutions. According to a Human Resources Software Buyer Report, companies relying on manual HR seek new systems to improve organization (44%) and automation (22%).
Long gone are the days where HR mainly handled administrative tasks such as payroll or checking that forms were filled out correctly. Now, HR departments have a strategic role that is crucial to the success of any organization. From finding talent whose skill set matches the company’s current and future goals to suggesting employee training and development strategies, HR managers' focus lies on building loyalty and commitment while staying current and competitive. Below are some HR tasks where RPA can be leveraged and processes can be optimized efficiently:
• Initial Recruitment Process: Businesses can implement RPA to gather and screen resumes and online application forms, do thorough background verification checks and compare the info against all relevant job requisitions. With this, the right candidates can be shortlisted and notifications for interviews, feedback or rejections can be generated based upon predefined rules - with only a click of a button! This can easily simplify the time consuming process and reduce the time taken for hiring the best candidates.
• Crafting Offer Letter Administration: RPA can be conveniently leveraged to craft offer letters for your new employees that are accurate and tailor-made. Creating, sending, and monitoring the return of specific documents for new joiner candidates has multiple dimensions, as the content of the offer letter not only has to please the desired top candidate, but also needs to comply with local and company regulations on various aspects. Cross-checks with diverse related rules and regulations stored in different systems and databases inside and outside the organization are also easily made possible in the course of the offer letter creation – without any error!
• Onboarding the New Hire: Once the new candidate has accepted the job offer, a new user account, an email address, access rights for applications, mailing lists and systems and all the necessary IT equipment has to be requested and ordered. RPA can be implemented to automatically trigger a predefined onboarding workflow once the user account is created. Business rules assigned to the user profile guide robots to take decisions – for instance which system accesses to grant. Robots can even send out predefined onboarding documents to the new joiners as a final step of the process. The new hire is now a 100% well equipped employee on day 1 which is still considered an exception rather than a standard.
• Induction and Training: No matter if an employee is new to the company or to the role, or if a new application or a new process is being launched. RPA can be implemented here as well - an automatic notification of training and certification requirements can be scheduled and calendars can be blocked as individual employee characteristics and certification status are compared against requirements. Through this the employees are fully aware and up-to-date when it comes to executing business processes and tasks in line with company standards, so that compliance is being granted and missing or wrong data can be prevented.
• Travel and Expense Management: RPA can be implemented to compare individual expenses against predefined rules and regulations from different systems inside and outside the organization. Through this businesses can avoid missing receipts, out-of-policy-spends, late expense submissions, error-prone spreadsheets and a poor visibility into the reason for the spending.
• Monthly Payroll and Paychecks: RPA can be implemented to verify the consistency of payroll system employee data by checking it against the data in the ERP system thereby avoiding payroll challenges that result from a limited ability to leverage standardization due to local payroll, compliance and security requirements as well as a lack of data visibility and integrity – leading to inaccurate data and incorrect submissions and overall delays in payment. RPA increases the accuracy and reduces processing time - especially when the company has a considerable number of employees. Paychecks, benefits administration, rewards and reimbursements , i.e. benefit invoice reconciliation can all be automatically tracked and produced by robots to avoid inaccurate submission and overall delays.
• Employee Data Management: RPA can be implemented to ensure accurate and complete management of all employee data throughout the employee lifetime from the very first day. These solutions can help with tasks that require manual entry, updating, and maintenance across multiple, disparate database management systems.
• Reports and Analysis of Surveys and Company Reviews: Reporting can get a very time-consuming affair for HR as data is needed in the right format at the right place to shape the right indicators in order to make smart decisions. RPA can be implemented to fulfill complex periodic reporting requirements for prescriptive and predictive HR analyses. It may also include automatic screening of company reviews and surveys throughout different internal and external sources.
• Time and Attendance: RPA can be leveraged to review and validate attendance records by cross-checking absentee reports against time logged in the corporate network and giving alert when info is missing or inconsistent or reallocation of resources is recommended so that disruptions are avoided and the workforce is managed efficiently.
• Exit Management: When an employee exits, it is of highest importance to ensure that this happens in a consistent and considerate manner. RPA can be implemented to ensure a better organized off-boarding and de-provisioning process by automating process parts such as 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.
Lotus Analytics’ RPA and Automation solution for processes with repeatable and predictable tasks uses ‘robots’ to perform routine business processes by mimicking the way that people interact with applications through a user interface and following simple rules to make decisions. Entire end-to-end processes can be performed by software robots with very little human interaction, typically to manage exceptions. These tools improve the efficiency of these processes and the effectiveness of services without changing the underlining systems.