Verifying input data and transferring it between various processes and information systems is time consuming. Reducing the manual processing of data results not only in a more efficient process and cost savings, but also in better quality and fewer human errors.
You should start reviewing the payroll process where the potential for savings is the greatest. A task that is easy to perform may be a good target for automation if the process is repetitive and volumes are sufficiently large, such as in transferring human resources data from one system into another. You should also explore the potential of automation if the consequences of an error are expensive or difficult to correct.
You will achieve the greatest benefits in the payroll process if you map the entire process from start to finish. You are then able to ensure that all data required in the process is available exactly where it is needed, instead of automating merely some individual steps. The quality assurance of data or managing variances is built into the payroll process. Setting up a rule-based process will decrease the number of separate checks and approvals. When the process is carefully designed the automation is able to handle most of the stages of the process. Therefore the process experts and employees whose work automation will affect should be involved in the project from the very beginning.
You should consider the benefits of automation particularly carefully if there are several process exceptions or if the systems to be utilised have diverse implementations. If the process changes often, the benefits of automation will remain small.
The automation path is built on the existing process
The payroll process is a suitable target for automation, as its main processes are standardised and the processed data is formatted in numerical tables well suited for mechanical processing.
Companies have numerous parallel systems and a wide range of automation capabilities is already in place within them. The fastest and most cost-effective way to streamline processes is to deploy existing features and integrate them through interfaces into other systems, such as the accounting system and invoicing. Integration enables you to update the data in multiple systems with a single update. A sort of neural network is formed between various systems, in which information moves smoothly. More data from the source system can be carried with the information than would be required by the actual operation. As a result, enriched data can be utilised in reporting.
The functionalities of the payroll system can be expanded with robots or implementations built in the integration layer. Ready-made interfaces (APIs) should be utilised whenever they are available. If the payroll system or time management system does not come equipped with all the necessary applications, such as working hours interpretation functionality, the interpretation can be carried out outside the payroll system using automation. The solution is not optimal from the point of view of IT architecture, but it is possibly the best feasible temporary solution.
The internal automation of the payroll system is the cornerstone of the automation path. There is a wide array of different technologies and components to choose from to guide the system towards artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Teaming up humans with robots
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a good way to automate the payroll officer’s work, as the robot utilises software and interfaces that the company already uses. It is useful to consider how robots could be utilised outside regular working hours. They could, for instance, be set up to perform routine tasks such as filing and reporting during weekends and at night. Data transfers from one system into another can also be scheduled to take place at a specific time.
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