Robots are invading HR—and that's a good thing
Est. Read Time: 3 min.
Robotic process automation (RPA) brings robots and technology into human processes. Often, RPA substitutes repetitive, time-consuming, tedious tasks that employees face each day to get their jobs done. It has a lot of proven benefits for HR, especially considering the common tasks that HR employees must perform to complete processes. The decision then comes down to investing in an RPA-specific vendor or investing in technology with built-in RPA capabilities.
In this post we'll explore the pros of solutions with built-in RPA capabilities, but first let's discuss why HR should be thinking about RPA in the first place.
RPA in an HR World
There are several RPA solutions emerging today as businesses transform many manual processes. Using RPA helps employees work quickly and accurately—removing the risk of human error. And by saving time on manual tasks, employees have more time to focus on strategic work or work that demands non-robotic skills, like interactions with customers.
Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends study gave credit to cloud solutions for centralizing HR tasks, and technology has come a long way in assisting HR. But, cloud solutions still don't cover every need HR teams have in order to increase productivity and reduce costs.
RPA is slowly but surely making its way into HR teams. It’s impacting a lot of daily tasks such as document generation and payroll updates, for example, and that trajectory is only expected to increase in the years to come.
With an increased focus on automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, HR teams must stay ahead of the curve and well-educated on technology trends that may impact their work. However, it's hard to stay on top of it all and to know where to get started, or what technology trends can make the biggest impact, quickly.
The bottom line, though, is the true indicator of RPA success. In an interview with McKinsey, Leslie Willcocks shared that through several case studies, she found the return on investment of RPA varies between 30% and 200% in just the first year of implementation. Now that is an investment your executive team members can surely get behind!
RPA: A crucial part of the tech conversation
It appears as if there’s no downside to RPA—excellent ROI, work efficiencies, reduced human error. But, that doesn't mean that just any RPA solution will cut it. When evaluating new HR technology for your team, it’s crucial that RPA is part of the conversation, and especially important that it’s a component of the software you purchase.
Investing in a third-party RPA vendor will allow your team to automate tasks and processes. At the same time, it can present your team with tremendous risks and pitfalls.
As your HR needs change, so will your RPA needs
There’s an inherent risk of failure when RPA happens in an external system. Both relying on the technology to function properly and the potential for human error can interfere when using a third-party system.
Implementing RPA to begin with is going to be a big process change in your organization. Setting up the bots to shake hands with, so to speak, your other HR systems will require a heavy lift from HR and IT. An incorrect initial setup is a recipe for disaster.
But, let’s say setup goes smoothly and things are working great. That is, until your team needs to make changes, or wants to update a process. Your bots’ actions will need to also change. This puts a heavy reliance on your teams to make changes accurately and quickly. Plus, bots from external providers may not play so nicely with new systems or new processes.
HR technology with built-in RPA capabilities are user-friendly and typically make it very easy for users to update automation rules as processes or systems change.
RPA built with HR in mind
External vendors may know a lot about RPA, but do they know a lot about HR? Are they going to understand your specific needs and pain points, or even your HR jokes?
Bots that are pre-built into HR systems will already be privy to HR-specific tasks, and some HR automation capabilities may already be at your disposal. With that, it will require significantly less customization and developer work to automate your HR tasks. Less customization can mean a faster implementation and lower costs.
Additionally, RPA built into your HR systems will empower HR team members to make changes themselves in a user-friendly and familiar interface.
Vendor Evaluation Tip: When you’re evaluating an HR solution with RPA, ask how automation updates happen and who needs to perform these updates. The right provider should empower HR users to make these changes themselves, without the need of IT!
It’s clear that RPA is a worthwhile investment. Spending your money on the right solution, therefore, is a big decision—no pressure. The scenario you want to avoid is implementing an RPA tool that, later, needs to be removed, which will create a gap in your automation efforts. Evaluate HR systems that include RPA, and be diligent in that search.
Rather than investing in extra tech talent to build and support your RPA needs, HR-specific solutions with RPA will be easy to configure and set up by your HR team members. As mentioned, a solution that includes RPA will also have more inclusive pricing for maintenance and updates. Plus, you’re getting more bang for your buck!
If you’re not quite ready to dabble in the world of RPA, investing in an HR system with the capability allows you to table that decision to a later date.
Keep a close circle of vendors
This is a no-brainer. Your team knows and depends on your circle of trusted HR vendors to perform their jobs. Adding an external RPA solution to your tech stack means you have another vendor relationship to manage. Working with vendors that support a variety of needs can streamline implementations and training for new employees.
RPA is extremely valuable and will only increase in value over time. That being said, you want robots to invade your HR systems rather than rely on third-party bots.
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About Angela Maschio
Angela Maschio is a Product Marketing Specialist at PeopleDoc, Inc. She ensures customer communications and marketing materials related to the product are detailed, informative, and understandable to educate HR professionals on PeopleDoc’s value and capabilities. Before working at PeopleDoc, Angela worked in marketing in the HR technology industry.