4 Signs Your HR Needs to Automate its Workflows
Back in the 80s or 90s, when computers where hardly used in college records, much less in government-run institutions, students (such as myself) with handfuls of documents would be seen running up and down school buildings, across campus lawns, to and from one school signatory to another, in order to enrol in the right classes and professors before missing the enrolment deadline.
In one particular horror story, some five dozen students (including me) had to camp out from the night before just to TRY to avoid one of two available professors for Quantitative Economics, Mrs. X.
After nearly 20 hours waiting in line, I ended up in... the dreaded Mrs. X's class. Poor me (I barely survived that semester).
Some students were also in an uproar when somehow, their supposedly successful campaign to avoid Mrs. X went down the drain when the school registrar unfortunately misplaced their papers, and were assigned instead to the fearsome professor of doom.
Nowadays, enrolment in most schools is no longer done manually. Students have the luxury of enrolling and signing-up for classes and courses from the convenience of their laptop or mobile phone. No more waiting in line. No more misplaced records. Enrolment done in a few clicks.
Unfortunately, small businesses in Australia have not yet kept up
In a survey among 800 small and medium businesses in Australia, only 54% are looking to invest in technology and automation. The ills that plagued the education sector back in the 80s still linger with commercial Australia - paper trails that take up a lot of storage space, lost documents, and bottlenecks in the approval process.
Admittedly, the focus of SMEs in terms of investment areas would be on expansion, cost reduction and marketing. But why should SMEs look more into automating their workflows?
According to Namely, an average of 11 hours per week were saved by their clients when they automated their HR, including their workflows for payroll, salary changes, promotions, time-offs, and org structures. These 11 hours can now be spent on valued expansion, cost reduction, and marketing work.
Does your HR need to manage its workflows?
Your company might be part of the 46% of SMEs in Australia that are not looking to invest in technology and automation. But here are some signs that your company might need to reconsider investing in HR information systems (HRIS) and automate your workflows:
1. You are still heavily dependent on paper documents for approval. Are there stacks of papers on your desk that need to be signed/passed on to someone else for approval? That is a sure-fire recipe for disaster. Common incidents with hardcopy-dependent systems would be documents being misplaced/lost, being overrun by newer documents, or being forgotten completely.
Worse, if the person handling some documents resigns or is terminated, many times those documents would be lost in the labyrinth of papers, files, and office equipment in the ex-employee's desk, car or home.
An HRIS system will avoid all these by keeping all your HR documents in one place, with a step-by-step approval process in place, without misplacing or losing any document.
2. The same data is encoded over and over again. A typical example would be: An employee's full name (among others) will be encoded in the Excel file of an employee data sheet, which would also be typed into a form for time-off requests, and also in a benefits enrolment form, and in a memo for promotions for approval, and in a company outing list, and in a Christmas bonus list, and so on and so forth. And this is just for the name.
You will also repeat the process for tax file numbers, job grade/rank, department, immediate superior, position, etc.
An HRIS system will reduce all those into just a few clicks of a mouse or keyboard, and liberate a lot of time spent on redundant tasks.
3. You keep sending PDFs, PowerPoints, Excel sheets or Word files in your emails. This might be techy enough, but again, it can be time consuming still, and the documents can still fall through the cracks if the approvers are not organised enough.
In some cases, these attachments might still need to be printed out, signed, scanned and emailed back. Not really a time-saving option, is it?
4. There are constant bottlenecks in your approval process. Check out this familiar scene: You send a document to the desk of an approver, who happens to be out on a conference for a few days. In those few days, dozens of other documents are also jammed into his inbox.
When the approver returns from the conference, there is now a considerable backlog which will be tackled in the next week, along with other tasks that are continually added to the approver's plate. That document that you sent would now have taken a couple of weeks before it is acted upon, thereby disrupting your timelines and your own deliverables.
Most HRIS systems these days are mobile-responsive. Approvers like in our example above would have had the convenience of approving documents with a few clicks on the phone or tablet, in-between the breaks of the conference. Delays and bottlenecks now averted.
You can also track the progress of each document from your HRIS dashboard, and make gentle reminders with delayed approvers.
If you want to have a quick peek at how HRIS systems can manage your workflows, check out these videos from Namely and BambooHR:
About the author:
Dondi Alentajan is the Principal Consultant for Alentajan Business Consulting and serves as a consultant for Optimum Direct, a web portal for the best HR tools and software for small business. He was recognised as a “Marketing Maverick” by Business World in 2012, and he headed the Marketing Team nominated “Best Marketing Company” by the PMA for two consecutive years (2010 & 2011). His primary work mission is to help companies and their customers be happier together.