Imagine the human resources (HR) department of most companies, and you’ll most likely visualize mountains of paperwork accompanied by extensive manual work and long waiting times — whether it’s payroll administration, leave management, or employee on-boarding.
Robotic process automation (RPA) can break that spell, and that is why many companies, as well as HR service providers themselves, are using RPA to digitize and improve the efficiency of their data-driven processes.
“Of course, creating ‘agile’ organizations has long been a focus of business leaders, with 92 percent wanting to bring people closer to customers, increase the spread of innovation, and improve employee empowerment and engagement. RPA can be a powerful enabler to these objectives,” suggests Deloitte. “In our recent survey of human resource professionals, 65 percent of respondents saw RPA as an operating model play, enabling the introduction of a ‘digital workforce’ that predominantly handles purely transactional activities.”
While RPA is functionally not intended to replace an HR software suite, it adds new functionalities to HR processes that are still executed on older systems while improving their efficiency, reducing human error and safeguarding data. With this boost, companies can also delay and potentially even eliminate the hassle that accompanies an upgrade to a new HR system.
Let's look at some HR automation use cases.
Especially when a company has weekly payroll or a considerable number of employees, completing payroll tasks with large volumes of data entry can be burdensome. An HR service provider in Switzerland was processing 100,000 events per month requiring an average handling time of 60 hours and the effort of six full-time employees. There were also a number of departments involved in the process that used two applications on the desktop. Because the process involved structured information, however, it was ideal for RPA.
The company implemented UiPath within 7 weeks and achieved a return-on-investment in four months. The UiPath Robot handled payroll changes received via email from the customers and automatically entered them into the SAP system. With 90% of the process automated, the HR service provider could reduce processing time by 85%, error rates to 0%, and manual effort to 25%.
Before automation, the New Hire Setup activity at a global IT company took half an hour for an employee to complete and had meager accuracy rates caused by repeated manual processing.
After implementing UiPath attended and unattended automation, it only took three minutes, with an entire 10-minute review process removed thanks to increased accuracy rates. Monitoring process duration and exception types through UiPath’s Kibana also led to improvements in input data and effective allocation of resources and error handling. The solution proved to be 100% scalable and easily extensible in cases of peak times and mass hiring.
HR departments are constantly inundated with data on employees, contractors, and interns, often across various office locations and company branches. An HR service provider from Germany was processing 2,500 sick leave certificates per month with an average handling time of four minutes per item.
Implementing UiPath within three weeks, they achieved 90% process automation. The UiPath Robot extracted data from a transaction in SAP, inserted the information into the customer’s systems, and printed it. The HR service provider was able to achieve a return-on-investment within six months, with error rates reduced to 0%, manual effort reduced to 5%, and processing time reduced by 80%.
HR processes are already front-runners in the scope of RPA, but adding artificial intelligence (AI) will make automation more powerful and will revolutionize how employees tackle their HR responsibilities. The RPA capabilities currently available already profit from the integration of machine learning (ML), intelligent OCR (optical character recognition) and NLP (natural language processing) to achieve complete process digitization and cognitive infusion.
Chatbots are a great example. Employees can register sick leave and vacation time, request information about their work contract, and submit expense reimbursements only by interacting with an HR virtual assistant. Meanwhile, RPA actions and transfers the data from the human to the system and back.