Organisations deploying RPA and associated technologies can no longer be described as “early-adopters”, since automation strategy is now firmly backed by C-Suite, whilst the deployment of automation spans departments and geographical regions. Yet the success or failure of RPA is still most commonly assessed by Finance teams reconciling investments against cost savings, whilst its ongoing governance and management sits with Operations or IT departments. It is this contributor’s opinion that another stakeholder needs to make greater inputs to automation roadmaps and here, I put forward 5 reasons why HR Leaders need to stand up and take notice of their Organisation’s Digital Workforces:
- A Digital Workforce should be designed to empower its Human Colleagues to partake in more revenue-driving activities, hence, the extent to which, as well as the ways in which it does so should be more of a concern for HR Leaders, since the more mundane and repetitive activities that a Digital Workforce takes on, the greater the scope of Human Workers to contribute to more meaningful tasks.
- A vision for the future way of working is that a third of work will be carried out by Human Workers, another third by Digital Workers and the final third by Systems, such as via APIs. This shift towards collaborative Human-Machine modes of working is giving rise to several questions. For example-
- What are the areas in which humans should re-skill?
- How should the working week be re-architected to increase productivity?
- Where should human workers be based?
These are people-related questions, which can only be answered by HR Leaders that have a firm understanding of Intelligent Automation.
- Very often, Digital Worker success is measured by the ‘number of hours returned to the business’. A pertinent question for HR Leaders is, “what did the business do with those hours, once they were returned?” Without HR having a say in Digital Worker performance, the underlying value of returned time cannot be determined.
- People partake in performance reviews, where their contributions to an organisation’s success informs their abilities to win promotions and bonuses, whilst effective Managers look for ways in which they can enhance Team Members’ professional capabilities. In the same way, Digital Workers can have varying levels of performance. If a Digital Workforce has successfully taken on low-hanging-fruit automations, but not scaled, it directly impacts a Human Workforces’ ability to remain productive and competitive, hence HR Leaders’ need to be equipped to ask questions, such as-
- Are the Digital Workers actually doing a better job than their Human Colleagues did on a process-by-process basis? Are they creating more work for, or freeing colleagues?
- What is the Utilisation-Rate for the organisation’s Digital Workforce?
- How are allied technology stacks, such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Analytics and Cloud Computing being integrated into the organisation’s RPA-roadmap, in order to maximise the Use Cases that can be executed in whole or in part by RPA?
- What are the Governance-Frameworks and Compliance Protocols that the Digital Workforce is following, in order to complete processes and tasks that the Human Workforce executed in accordance with set guidelines? What Documentation is in place for the same and how readily available are Audit-Logs?
- Do the Digital Workers that are in production have Self-Healing capabilities? (Meaning; are they blindly following process paths that mimic their Human Colleague’s activities, or, are they able to re-engineer ways of doing things to encapsulate more efficient process execution synergised with adherence to compliance guidelines?)
- The Use Cases that RPA can impact from a Talent and HR perspective are wide-ranging. From Candidate Interview Scheduling to Employee On Boarding; from Time Sheet Processing to Salary Payment Execution; from Holiday Booking to Work Attendance Monitoring. The list is exhaustive; RPA can truly impact employees from ‘Hire-to-Retire’, so HR leaders must have cognisance of how Digital HR Team Members can contribute on a departmental-level.
What do you think? Would greater HR-Involvement in Digital Workforces be valuable or meddlesome? Can you think of any other reasons why RPA is a topic for HR Leaders?