Applying RPA to HR leads to improved ROI

Automating the HR function through robotic process automation (RPA) boosts productivity, agility and cost efficiency, leading to a significant return on investment (ROI).

Johannesburg, 15 Sep 2023
Scott Falconer, Regional Head: Western Cape, Altron Document Solutions.
Scott Falconer, Regional Head: Western Cape, Altron Document Solutions.

Workflows are a critical aspect of any modern organisation, as these help to streamline and automate repeatable business tasks, reducing errors and boosting the organisation’s overall efficiency. Workflows can significantly improve a business, enabling management to make faster, more intelligent decisions, while allowing staff to collaborate more effectively, improving both productivity and agility.

Modern workflows tend to be automated through robotic process automation (RPA), explains Scott Falconer, Altron Document Solutions’ Regional Head for the Western Cape, noting that only certain areas of the business tend to be focused on when applying RPA.

“We have found that the most time spent by organisations on automation is focused on business areas like finance, creditors and debtors, as well as IT operations and supply chain management. The human resources (HR) department is often overlooked – perhaps because HR is viewed as a cost to the business. What very few companies realise is that, when automated properly, the HR function can offer a significant return on investment (ROI),” he says.

“If you consider the normal recruitment process, it can be quite laborious. Multiple rounds of interviews and callbacks, and then even once the position is filled, it can take up to another three weeks to properly onboard that employee. On the other hand, those organisations investing in automating their HR systems can have a new employee onboarded within 24 hours, and sometimes in as little as two hours.”

Asked how an automated system speeds things up, he points to a simple example of a new employee having to fill in the requisite forms, which are then sent to head office and filed and stored safely. If one considers a business of several thousand employees, the sheer volume of paper, manual labour and storage space saved by automating would equate to huge monetary savings. Essentially, he points out, there are a lot of areas within the HR process where expenses accrue and can easily spiral out of control.

“Not only can it be a time-consuming process to undertake manually, thereby negatively impacting existing staff, but if your HR process is seen to be slow and laborious by potential candidates, you may also lose some of the best and brightest of your prospects.

“Don’t forget that it is through HR that potential candidates get their first impression of the business, so you want something in place that will take every new employee through the right process to ensure they are properly inducted, introduced to the rest of the company and onboarded with minimum fuss.”

Effective onboarding includes such aspects as ensuring that the employee’s uniform or specialised equipment – such as a laptop – is ordered as soon as they are hired, he adds. This means their required equipment will be available from day one for them, speeding up their integration into the business and boosting their productivity from the outset.

“There are other ways automating your HR process can assist the business too. For one, no longer can an employee who is fired from one store approach another store from the group and apply for a job, because the systems will now be linked. A similar link to the payroll system will help to ensure timeous payments for staff, thereby keeping your employees happy,” he adds.

“Once you introduce an automated onboarding process, you will also have all your employees’ information easily at hand. This makes the process of managing movement within your organisation easier – be they transfers, promotions, resignations or disciplinary actions – and it will also ensure you tick the relevant boxes to ensure that in the case of, for example, a dismissal, you have adhered to the correct procedures.”

Falconer warns that failure to complete the correct steps in such a process may open the business up to a case of unfair dismissal, so it is vital to have an automated checklist to prevent such an occurrence. An automated HR process can even assist you in fulfilling your B-BBEE obligations, he points out, by setting the hiring parameters required to meet these.

“In the end, most companies still view HR as a cost centre, but the fact is that it is really one of the most fundamental processes in your business and impacts it across all levels. As outlined above, properly and effectively automating your HR processes can, in fact, deliver enormous rewards to your company,” he concludes.