If you are a CHRO, then your marching orders sound something like this…
One answer is Robotics Process Automation, or RPA for short. Of course there is no “silver bullet” to address the workforce challenges listed above, but RPA might be the most fundamental technology shift affecting business processes in the latest decade. In fact, Gartner predicts that 30-40 percent of existing business process services are likely to be impacted by RPA, and that Smart machines will replace 1 in 3 jobs by 2025.
If you are not actively looking at how to apply Robotics Process Automation, you should, because RPA:
The future workforce will include Robots as one of the four components. Each component requires its own workforce strategies for recruiting, developing and retaining the talent. The Robotics workforce, which is today’s focus, also requires a workforce management strategy-not for the Bots, but for the humans whose jobs will continue to evolve.
There is a fair amount of confusion regarding Robotics. Terms such as “robots,” “augmented technology,” and “artificial intelligence” are related, but tend to overcomplicate what RPA actually does. The easiest way to describe RPA is as “software that mimics human behavior.” The more this human behavior is “rule-based,” repetitive, and requires digital inputs, the more effective and efficient will be the RPA solution. In general, any process that follows rule-based decisions and requires digital inputs can be described in a flowchart, and then translated into one of the many RPA tools, like Blue Prism. Note that there is very little programming. RPA is a Business-Driven activity, but it does require close collaboration with Information Technology specialists.
Once you select one of the RPA vendors, adding the Bot is like adding an employee. That is, the Bot is given a unique log-in ID, password, and an access profile that fits the role (e.g., Recruiter). This allows the Bot to log-onto the system, access your recruiting application, send and receive emails, enter data into your HRIS, and any other rules-based task you would ask an employee to do while logged into their computer. Except the Bot doesn’t mind transferring data from your recruiting vendor to your onboarding application, or sending emails to candidates asking for missing information for the third time. In fact, your Bot will do this 24 hours a day, seven days a week with 100 percent accuracy… without any technology changes to your legacy applications, or interfaces to your recruiting vendor systems’, or automated interfaces to any systems at all!
RPA ACROSS THE ENTERPRISE
The ease of deploying RPA, combined with the ability of the business to drive it has sparked RPA deployments in every function in the enterprise, including: Finance & Accounting, IT, HR, Supply Chain, Legal, Internal Audit, Tax and Sales. RPA is able to automate end-to-end manual processes, especially those with the following characteristics:
Hence, in HR, there are many processes that exhibit these characteristics, including:
Let’s look at a specific “Use Case” for RPA in the Onboarding Process. Before RPA is applied, there are many points of failure that negatively impact the new joiner’s experience. The time required to process a new joiner (once all the forms are complete) is two hours.
After RPA is used, the process looks quite a bit streamlined. And now, the time required to process a new joiner (once all the forms are complete) is three minutes! If we think of the on-boarding example as a use-case, we see that there are definite implications of robotics for your workforce:
Significant cost savings (20-60 percent) do drive RPA use, however, other benefits are often what organizations are seeking when they explore RPA:
In our experience implementing RPA with ourselves and our clients, we have learned some important lessons to keep in mind as you start your journey:
RPA, although not a silver bullet to solve all HR challenges, is a way for HR to demonstrate business leadership. Once introduced into the organization, the benefits will be readily apparent, and RPA will enjoy a viral-like spread to all functions where there are repetitive tasks. HR can lead the way in demonstrating how to address workforce management implications, and then support the operating units in their journey.
Thus, RPA goes a long way to resolve certain HR challenges, and puts the CHRO squarely at the table. At the same time, it triggers the need for a workforce management strategy to accommodate a new kind of employee, and to accommodate the impacts of RPA to existing employees. So, HR can introduce RPA to the organization, or wait to hear about it when the business is implementing it. One way or the other, RPA is in your future!