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Robotic Process Automation and its relevance in HR Tech


Robotic process automation (RPA) is an emergent technology which can provide full scale automation to different business processes and is based on the concepts of artificial intelligence and software robots. RPA uses a software, commonly called a ‘robot’ to enable the existing IT systems in transaction processing, data manipulation and communication across different IT enabled processes, in functions such as manufacturing, operations, supply chain management, finance etc. Human Resource is one such business function that can resort to RPA to improve its efficiency and operational effectiveness.

The role of RPA in HR tech

According to a report by Deloitte, creating an agile workforce is a business focus and 92% business leaders want to bring their employees closer to the customers, spread innovation and enhance employee engagement.

65% of the HR professionals see RPA as a model for introducing a digital workforce that can handle transactional activities that they have to repeatedly deal with

What is RPA Development?

RPA deployment acts as a virtual workforce in the form of a back-office processing centre without human intervention. This can lead to lower costs for the company as the cost of hiring humans is higher than the cost of maintaining an RPA infrastructure over a period of time. It also has other non-monetary benefits such as higher accuracy, efficiency, improved employee satisfaction, detailed data capture, higher levels of innovation and time saving.

Companies like Deloitte have already begun deploying RPA within their HR functions. Deloitte has implemented RPA with its HR tech processes to handle the repeatable and predictable interactions that employees have with HR in a fully automated manner.  

Current use cases of RPA in HR tech

RPA is not meant to replace humans, but to execute new functionalities on  existing HR tech systems making them efficient by reducing the scope of human error and safeguarding data. Modern tech-friendly organizations are adopting RPA in their HR tech processes to handle their mundane tasks and engaging all existing HR systems into a single layer. There are advanced RPA solutions which can integrate all the HR tech systems without the need of deploying large teams and causing disruption during implementation. Let’s look at some of the use cases prevalent today within the scope of HR tech:

1.    Payroll management

UiPath is a company that offers enterprise RPA solutions to its clients. On its blog, the company explains how RPA for HR tech helped eliminate any scope of error in the processes of an HR service provider in Switzerland. Without RPA, the company was processing 100,000 events per month with an average handling time of 60 hours, 2 desktop applications and the effort of 6 full-time employees. After implementing UiPath RPA, the company achieved its return on investment in 4 months. The robot handled the payroll changes via email from customers and automatically entered them into the SAP system. This automated 90% of the process, reducing the processing time by 85% with 0% error.

2.    Employee on-boarding

Post hiring, there are a range of activities performed by HR personnel to smoothly settle a new employee into the company. From creating their email IDs and giving them access to applications, HR team members interact with different functions to carry out the onboarding related tasks. This becomes a long drawn and cumbersome process which can be avoided by RPA implementation. RPA can trigger a predefined onboarding flow automatically with business rules assigned to the robots to take necessary decisions.

3.    HR virtual assistant

Adding artificial intelligence to RPA will make automation more intuitive and powerful as it will revolutionise the employee-HR interaction. Functionalities like optical character recognition (OCR), machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP) enable HR tech to become more cognitive in nature. Chatbots are an example of how AI and RPA can act together as an HR virtual assistant.

Employees can interact with an RPA enabled bot to request any information. For example, they can ask about their salary, submit their expense details for reimbursements, register their sick leaves or ask for HR policy related documents etc without talking to a human.

LarcAI – an AI startup, has worked with a company’s HR assistant using cognitive services and a UiPath robot. The Robotic Process Automation technology along with Artificial Intelligence, is making the LarcAI virtual assistant more intelligent over time and training it to understand the employee needs and handle their daily mundane tasks. HR virtual assistants fit perfectly into any office environment by the use of the combined powers of RPA and AI.

The above-mentioned use cases are just some of the quick and cost-friendly versions of RPA adoption within the realm of HR tech. As HR functions will gear up to adopt it for more complex activities such as end-to-end recruitment process, it will be important for HR managers to understand that Robotic Process Automation will automate tasks and not roles. The hire-to-retire processes such as payroll, benefits etc require 32% less resources with the application of RPA, freeing up the human employees for more strategic work that requires aptitude, thinking, and reasoning.

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