Kick-starting your Robotics in HR journey


Kick-starting your Robotics in HR journey

Innovation within HR is increasingly fueled through the application of AI and robotics. In a short blog series we address AI, robotics and automation in HR: what is it, why should you use it and how can you use it? This second blog provides insights into the benefits and guidance on how to kick-start your journey.

Kick-starting your Robotics in HR journey

As consultants specializing in HR Transformation, it always excites us to see the emergence, evolution and acceleration of new practices and technologies that have the potential to make a huge difference to our HR colleagues and clients.

In our first blog on this topic, we delved into what Deloitte calls the Cognitive Advantage (the combination and use of Robotics and Cognitive automation, Cognitive Insights and Cognitive Engagement technologies) and noted the increasing importance our clients are placing on it.

In this blog, we will explore two key topics that our clients commonly ask us about:

  1. The benefits of robotics in HR; and
  2. Where to begin on your journey to unlocking these benefits?
    After reading this blog, we hope to give you a better understanding of the types of benefits robotics in HR can bring, as well as the confidence to begin the conversation about how to begin the journey within you organization’s processes and services.

The Benefits

Successfully using robotics and automation in HR will bring benefit to both the HR team member by improving how conduct their day-to-day activities, and the HR customer by improving how, when and how quickly they can interact with HR to get support.
Some of the key benefits of robotics and automation in HR include:

  1. Enhanced compliance, accuracy and quality – automation of a rules based process will ensure that legal regulations, policy and process requirements are met consistently, every time the process is executed. This is particularly relevant for employee and labor relations cases, and other situations where personal information with strict regulatory requirements must be met.
  2. Operational speed and 24/7 operations – robotics and automation technologies can operate around the clock and at pace, reducing the time and effort to process transactional tasks that slow progress down when handled manually. This will mean employees can resolve their queries at a time that suits them through virtual agents and automated processes, including outside of business hours.
  3. Cost reduction and a short payback period – Operating costs can be reduced significantly through scalability of the technologies. In many cases it has proven that in robotics and automation programs the organization can achieve return on their investment within 6 – 18 months. Cost reduction doesn’t necessarily mean that jobs are lost, on the contrary: we see that these technologies are most effective when they complement humans, not replace them. Cost reduction means that the costs for processes now carried out by new technologies are lower, which implies that the investments can be done on more value adding work. 
  4. Refocus highly skilled people to value add work - Often sighted as the greatest benefit of robotics and automation, these technologies free highly skilled HR employees from transactional work that often takes up the majority of their working day, to allow them to focus on high value add projects at great benefit to the whole organization.

The first step in your robotics and automation journey is understanding what you hope to achieve

In order to start your journey, you need to take a step back and think about what you want to achieve. In formulating your strategy and approach to robotics and automation you should consider:

  1. What you are hoping to achieve through the implementation of robotics and automation technologies (e.g. process standardization, cost reduction, etc.) and how this will fit with your current people and business strategies;
  2. Whether there are examples of robotics and automation already existing within your organization you can leverage, align with or learn from. With this being such a hot topic, it is more than likely that someone in your business is doing a complementary activity already;
  3. Where you can gain the most from these technologies and which processes may be best candidates for a proof on concept to give you greatest benefits i.e. an area of the business with highly transaction processes (we will explore how to determine this in more detail below and our next blog);
  4. Your organization’s willingness to invest in these technologies. This includes financial investment as well as the commitment of resources and time to plan, implement, train and support the adoption of these new technologies and processes;
  5. Whether your organization is ready to take on the potential reorganization and/or augmentation of your current workforce, noting that the way work is currently conducted will likely change and with that the types of skills and roles of your employees will also change.

Taking the time to properly consider, define and align on your organization’s priorities and objectives is critical to ensuring you set yourself up for success. While the benefits are enticing, you are unlikely to fully realize them if you haven’t identified the right opportunities that will help you meet your organization’s objectives.

Identifying the right processes and opportunities for your robotics in HR journey

As mentioned in our first blog the technology that presents the most immediate advantages for HR is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Through RPA, structured and unstructured information can be gathered, validated and analyzed. Calculations and reporting on operational performance are also good examples of robotic skills. RPA is also a technology that is less complicated and more cost efficient than the other technologies (like Cognitive Insights and Cognitive Engagement) within the spectrum. Therefore we suggest to start with RPA when you kick-off your journey.

Prioritize your journey

The opportunity for RPA is broad. To identify a prime candidate for RPA it is advised that a process meet several of the six evaluation criteria listed below to ensure that the process is suitable for automation and that in doing so your organization stands to realize the benefits we discussed earlier in this blog.

Just because a process may be able to be automated, doesn’t mean it necessarily should be. A process with a relatively low level of complexity (for example, repeatable and rule based tasks) and a high potential value attached (for example, a process with large transactional value) is a good candidate for RPA implementation.

You will notice some cross over in the value/complexity matrix and evaluation criteria. This is intentional, and a positive sign when a process meets the similar requirements on both assessments. It means it is a prime candidate for RPA implementation.

Applying this evaluation process within your organization is a critical step in successful process identification and analysis.

Targeting high value, low complexity (‘Quick Wins’) processes will bring about rapid benefits to the organization, demonstrate the possibility of automation and help build confidence and capabilities within the organization for further projects.

Balancing the need to achieve quick wins and deliver on high value, high complexity (‘Strategic’) processes will be an important task for the organization. Importantly, using this assessment matrix will help your organization avoid wasting time on those processes that aren’t appropriate for automation or won’t return the expected ROI.

Putting the plan into action

In this blog we described some of the key benefits of Robotics in HR and importantly, how to go about beginning that journey. Hopefully now you can begin the discussion about how robotics and automation technologies can impact and enhance your organization. Once aligned on your future vision and objectives you can begin to assess existing processes suitable for your first projects using the evaluation criteria and prioritization matrix we have discussed. From there the fun begins and it is time to put the plan into action.

In our next blog we will discuss the critical steps in moving from plans on a page to operationalizing a proof of concept.

For now: enjoy the start of your Robotics in HR journey!

For more information about the Robotics in HR please contact Norman Smit, Rianne Schrama - Blom via the contact details below.

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