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RPA & AI in HR Taking Off

Robotic process automation and artificial intelligence (RPA & AI) in HR are at an early stage, though the clear signs are that vendors are beginning to make investments that are paying off for their clients. Here I take a look at recent RPA & AI initiatives in three areas of HR: payroll services, recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), and learning services.


RPA & AI in payroll is focused on increasing efficiency and processing speed while improving employee experience. One of the top payroll outsourcing drivers is reduced payroll processing cost and agility to support changing business requirements, and is achieved via increased automation of current payroll processes, including using RPA tools to support query handling. For example, SD Worx is investing in building an automated virtual assistant tool which will answer specific client queries relating to HR and payroll legal services.

Vendors are using RPA to increase operational efficiencies and speed of processing. Elements of the payroll process are highly repeatable, and human error remains the single biggest point of failure. RPA effectively automates transactional activities that used to be done manually. Examples include:

  • NGA HR began a project in mid-2015 to automate all feasible manual processes within the payroll process, including investigating how it can use RPA to reduce errors and improve the overall productivity of its payroll outsourcing solutions
  • Infosys has built a proprietary tool using RPA that can handle data population across multiple systems, automated query response, reporting, reconciliation and consolidation of bank sheet entry
  • Ceridian has developed an implementation wizard, which supports small and medium sized companies during the discovery phase of an implementation, by importing data on demand to give clients a 70% pre-configured instance of Dayforce Go immediately; this cuts go-live time in half
  • Ramco aims to move from ~55% automation to ~95% automation, using RPA & AI to detect errors and anomalies in data and identify suspect transactions
  • SGWI is investing in RPA to drive down payroll processing cycles
  • Other vendors including ADP, Excelity, OneSourceVirtual, and Neeyamo are all actively investing in RPA. NelsonHall expects vendors to continue to develop capabilities in RPA and self-learning AI tools to drive productivity, thereby allowing payroll practitioners to support strategic activities.


In 2016 ~25% of RPO vendors had either explored or begun to use RPA & AI to support recruiting processes. The goal is not to take the human aspect out of the process, but rather to provide recruiters and hiring managers with much better information to make decisions. The main focus has been on the sourcing portion of RPO. For example:

  • Analysis of candidate profiles on social networks to determine who is more likely to be receptive to solicitations for jobs
  • Analytics that show which combinations of words in a job posting generate the most response and then linking those to the quality of the candidates who were ultimately hired
  • Selection and assessments are also a target for RPA to ascertain the best fit candidates and the most likely to stay and be productive.

Examples of vendors with RPA capability include:

  • Cielo with Blue Prism, incorporating RPA into the front end of the process to improve the candidate experience and to provide higher quality insights to client teams
  • Futurestep uses RiteTag to maximize exposure and reach. RiteTag provides it with tips on how to improve postings, enhance hashtags, gauge trends, and gather statistics
  • IBM Watson Talent helps recruiters prioritize and work on filling requisitions based on complexity, skill requirements, data from talent systems, how the job was filled in the past, external market insight, and what the talent supply looks like. Examples of benefits to date include 20% increase in recruiter efficiency and 24 additional hires per year per recruiter.

Learning Services

Vendors are focusing on RPA within learning administration to increase efficiencies, including in scheduling and throughout the learning lifecycle. Vendors leveraging RPA include Raytheon Professional Services (RPS), IBM, Conduent, and Infosys. Examples include:

  • Infosys is leveraging RPA around scheduling training certifications, the bot completing the same work in a fraction of the time
  • IBM is leveraging RPA for scheduling training courses, and is expanding the use of RPA to the design and development of learning content via its Cognitive Content Collator, significantly reducing time and effort
  • For a global telecoms company with a decentralized and non-standard training administration function that was manually processed, RPS designed a RPA solution with benefits including:
    • Enabled 24x7 visibility of training requests and streamlined approvals
    • Leveraged global, cross-industry experience to implement common training administration processes and procedures
    • Optimized use of learning resources and class fill rates through the design of an efficient and integrated scheduling system and processes.

RPA in HR will evolve quickly, providing on average 1/3 cost reductions, with quick implementation times. Across HR, businesses are looking to reduce costs and errors, increase efficiency and effectiveness, improve the user experience, and contribute to business results.

Coming soon, Amy Gurchensky will take a closer look at RPA in the learning space, and throughout the year we will look at the impact of RPA & AI across HR services.

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