Robotic Process Automation in HR and Payroll
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has already transformed many parts of our day-to-day lives. Whether it’s checking in for a flight or paying bills from your bank account through your phone, the act of using software to perform high-volume, rule-based tasks has removed many of the tasks that humans find mundane and repetitive.
In the business world, the efficiencies that can be found through RPA can be transformative to all sorts of core functions, and HR and payroll are no exception to this. In this blog, we’ll take a close look at where RPA can be applied in these departments, and the scale of what’s possible when it’s implemented correctly.
How can RPA be used in HR and Payroll?
The main reason RPA can be so useful when applied to payroll and HR is because these functions are full of repeatable, rule-based tasks that are perfect for automation. In our recent report on RPA, we’ve found that more than a quarter of all payroll activity can be considered data processing; 69% of that work can be automated with the technology currently available. In fact, in some industries such as the retail sector, accounting, and auditing up to 86% of work has the potential to be automated.
At a basic level, tasks that can be automated include (but are not necessarily limited to) data entry and collection, validation, calculations and task scheduling; these are all things that take human HR and payroll staff lots of valuable time, and can be prone to human error. But it’s also possible to apply automation in more nuanced areas like interpreting country-specific regulations, in-depth data analytics, or in employee-facing applications like HR bots that can perform some basic functions.
In any case, the tasks that are best suited to automation are those that have business steps and rules that are well-defined and don’t leave any room for ambiguity. It’s important, however, to view automation as a complement to human skill sets, and not a replacement for them. Instead of looking at automation as a way of replacing entire jobs, it should be applied to specific functions and use cases: principally, time-consuming jobs that computers streamline to do quicker and more accurately than humans.
How RPA can improve HR and Payroll
With RPA applied in the right places, HR and payroll operations can transform in efficiency and performance terms, and set into motion further knock-on benefits throughout an organization:
Improved performance through standardization: at a time when the quality and value of data to any business has never been more important, RPA can make sure that HR and payroll data is both accurate and in consistent formats. This enables the effective use of analytics and benchmarking to both track performance and highlight areas where improvements can be made. Once it becomes clear throughout an organization that payroll and HR data is helping them correctly evaluate and forecast productivity, the perceived value of that data will only increase.
Agility and compliance: a fast-paced business world with lower margins for error than ever before demands companies whose functions are both agile and reliable. The speed, accuracy and standardization of data that RPA generates within HR and payroll makes this possible, as it becomes easier to demonstrate compliance with regulations in multiple territories, and to make quick changes as and when required. Processes that are more optimized and trackable also ease auditing processes.
More efficient use of human skill sets: career development and progression is important to many employees; in our RPA in Global Payroll report, we found that it’s rated as important by 87% of millennials. However, employees spending most of their working time on repetitive tasks like payroll processing will feel demotivated, undervalued, and won’t find the time to work on progressing their careers. Running these tasks through automation instead can reclaim as much as 40% of employees’ time, helping them work on more value-adding tasks, improving the employee experience, and boosting job satisfaction.
It’s clear that a carefully considered deployment of Robotic Process Automation not only improves the smooth running of human resources and payroll departments, but delivers gains across the workforce and the entire organization. With the right partner in place, RPA technology can be deployed within a matter of weeks and deliver return on investment within a year, depending on the efficiencies being found. So there’s no time to lose in exploring the benefits of RPA as a powerful, complementary tool to HR and payroll teams.
Take a closer look at how your organization can benefit from RPA, and get practical advice on how to apply it, in our handy free guide.