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Where does RPA sit in the wider HR transformational landscape?

Posted by James Hall on 13/10/14 04:57

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Andy_SpenceAs we look forward to this weeks HR & Change Transformation conference, I met with Andy Spence, HR & Change Transformation Expert and Chair of the conference. We discussed the transformational changes within HR that we can see showcased at the conference and how RPA fits into this.

1) What are the transformational changes within HR that will be showcased at next week’s HR Change & Transformation conference?

In the context of transformational change, it’s a very interesting time to work in HR.

In HR and the wider workforce, there are a number of changes emerging with technology the driver. If used effectively the HR team can play a key part in transforming the workforce through the use of these tools.

The changes are forcing us to have to come up with new HR tactics, old ones such as annual performance reviews and engagement surveys, don’t work anymore.

We now have the opportunity for creative ideas. Whilst HR gets knocked a lot, it has been a leader in transformational change through tools such as LinkedIn for Social Media, Workday (SaaS) and use of mobile in recruitment.

The one thing that hasn’t changed for HR, and is the most important HR trick to empower your managers to get the most out of employees.

In terms of next week I’m really looking forward to listening to speakers about what technology they are rolling out. I’m especially looking forward to Bernhard Marr presentation on Big Data on Thursday 16th at 8.45 am - Transforming HR: A New Model to Integrate Career Development, Performance Management and Analytics.

I’m looking forward to James and Howard presenting on Robotic Process Automation (RPA). I’m keen to understand how they see RPA apply to HR.

The event is an interesting set of organisations attending, for example BBC, AXA, Google and Marks and Spencer’s. There’s a great cross section of industries.

2) How much of an impact will RPA have in the transformation of HR operations?

All this change, means our HR Models need to change, (see for example my article “Is your HR Operating Model fit for the Future?”  

When I work with clients to redesign their HR operation I start by designing a HR Organisation & Process Model. I use this to go through each HR work activity to work out which is “essential”, what could be automated or eliminated.  Within the automation category, we now have another tool to consider which is RPA.

Where I would identify HR processes that would be ripe for automation anything that is high volume, transactional, rules based.

Will RPA have a transformational effect on HR? Not alone. RPA will be part of a larger wave of HR transformational change, a lot of which is being driven by the move to the Cloud.

RPA belongs to this change.

Not all organisations are in a position to currently move to Cloud based solutions, For mid-sized organisations, this may be because they are waiting for availability from Workday/SuccessFactors etc or they are stuck on big legacy ERP systems, and can’t change quickly.

This is where this will be a benefit for RPA. And whilst again this won’t transform organisations, they will be leaner. 

If I look at the impact RPA will have on Outsourcing, especially HR Outsourcing (HRO), again the impact sits in the bigger transformational change, the Cloud, of which RPA is a part of. The size of the prize is getting smaller, but HRO will still play a big part. (see my article “Will HR in the Cloud Kill HR Outsourcing?”

Those  HRO vendors who innovate with technology such as RPA are more likely to flourish.

3) Where will HR operations benefit the most by deploying RPA?

Organisations that have legacy systems and are currently unable to move to Cloud solutions.

If I look at the different areas of HR operations I think the opportunities for RPA include:-

  • On-boarding In high volume sectors robots can help with filling in forms when an applicant becomes an employee
  • Joiners/Movers/Leavers – Again where you have a high volume of form filling, robots can pick up employment related transactional changes, such as keying in change of address
  • Health & Safety training and annual compliance administration – For some orgs, there are a number of regular Health & Safety or compliance related courses, with plenty of admin and form processing
  • Payroll & Pension administration – High volumes of data entry that can easily be automated
  • Systems administration – Whilst this is common across many business units outside of HR,  in organisations with ERP systems robots can pick up activities such as maintaining organisation structures, tables etc
  • Global business centres – Robots can support with employee handling by directing staff queries to the right place, for example the policy, training and guidance available.

Many of these changes will depend on the size of the organisation, you need the volumes and business case.

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Topics: Operations & SSC, Strategy, Innovation, Change, People, Perspectives, HR, Non-specific to a Sector

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