Can You Automate The Onboarding Process With RPA?

June 25, 2024  |  Mark Hillary

Over the years I have been writing here on this blog, I have talked about the development of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) many times. RPA has often suffered from analysts and journalists over-promising what it can achieve, but it remains an important automation tool.

The software company UiPath describes RPA this way: “Robotic process automation (RPA) is a software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate humans’ actions interacting with digital systems and software.”

This is a good introduction and summary. The word robot is often confusing for many people as it implies a physical robot, but RPA uses software robots.

These software robots can do things like understand what’s on a screen, complete the right keystrokes, navigate systems, identify and extract data, and perform a wide range of defined actions. The robots can do it faster and more consistently than people, without the need to get up and stretch or take a coffee break.

The question is, which processes in your business can be most effectively automated using RPA?

There are some basic rules that can help, such as thinking about which processes follow these guidelines:

  1. Rules-driven: Processes that are rules-based and consistent are good candidates.
  2. Repetitive in Nature: Manual and repetitive tasks are the right processes.
  3. Data Intensive: Tasks that involve systematic churning of voluminous data.

A good example of a process that is repeated with every new hire is the onboarding process. A human resources team will follow the same basic steps for each new team member so they get the information and system access they need to perform their new job.

This may sound simple, but it is critically important. The Harvard Business Review recently reported that only around half of new employees are satisfied with their onboarding process — people have many unanswered questions and are often left confused and unproductive in their new job.

A common problem is to bombard employees with an enormous amount of new information and to expect them to instantly understand it. This isn’t going to work, but an onboarding system and process that can help employees to get up to speed more effectively clearly has huge value.

The HBR article recommends dosing information in very specific sequences, so they get the information they need gradually and in the order it will be required. This idea naturally lends itself to an automated approach using RPA.

IBA Group website features a detailed case study explaining exactly how this can work. The team used EasyRPA with Camunda to create a new onboarding process for a large IT company in Europe.

This company had faced many challenges in their onboarding process since the Covid pandemic because their traditional processes were all based on in-person demonstrations and meetings. The new system needed to facilitate a hybrid where some people may work entirely remotely, some may work in the office, and some may blend both options.

There were some very specific outcomes from the project. The company could see their reputation in the marketplace enhanced because of their investment in helping their employees. The onboarding process was reduced from several days of training to just four hours. The employee NPS score jumped by 8%, showing that employees really valued the new approach.

There were also fewer problems during onboarding. Errors such as issuing documents and manuals to employees incorrectly were largely eradicated, saving the HR team time as they no longer had to fix all these errors and mistakes.

Onboarding may not be an area where you have considered the opportunity for RPA, but it should be. The case study explains both the software and processes used — you can find more information here.

For examples of IBA projects and client success stories, please click here. Follow IBA Group on LinkedIn for regular updates and comment.

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