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RPA in Global Payroll - Part 1: The Opportunity for Automation in Payroll

Mar 14, 2018 

Competitors in the modern marketplace face a variety of emerging and evolving challenges, from new and far-reaching compliance requirements to increasingly sinister cyber threats and the shifting demands of a digitally-enabled workforce.

Hand in hand with these developments, however, comes tremendous opportunity for innovation and invention. As companies seek to reach and engage consumers in new ways, advancing technologies work to enable those goals while also safeguarding everyone involved: innovator, company, consumer, and employee.

Robotic process automation works precisely at that intersection of facilitation and protection.

The same automation that helps secure a customer’s personal data also reduces costs for the company, improves payroll accuracy for employees, and eliminates tedious manual work for the payroll professional. By embracing robotic process automation to improve payroll performance, compliance, and productivity, multinational organizations can be better prepared to meet oncoming challenges and opportunities with success.


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The Promise of RPA

Generally defined as the use of software system programs to perform rule-based, high-volume tasks, Robotic Process Automation or RPA is anything but a new concept. In recent decades, robotics have transformed the way we live in ways we now take for granted, including automatic phone dialing, flight check-in, and online banking.

Building on the success of recent technologies like facial recognition, Siri, and self-parking cars, robotic process automation will continue to revolutionize modern life as consumer products and experiences push the potential of robotics and machine learning beyond our currently perceived limitations.

For business operations, RPA holds the potential to exponentially increase the productivity and efficiency of core functions, including HR, finance, sales, and global payroll. Automation is already transforming how we conceive of teams executing payroll around the world, as well as the potential impact on related functions up- and downstream, overall business strategy, and even the employee experience.

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Automation in Payroll

The opportunity for RPA to transform global payroll operations lies in the amount of repetitive, rule-based tasks involved in payroll processes. Activities like data collection, validation, calculations, and even task scheduling are ideal for automation, while more nuanced responsibilities like interpreting country-specific regulations, analyzing data, and managing others require a human touch.

Payroll professionals spend a significant amount of time on predictable tasks that are highly susceptible to automation, such as data processing, which accounts for about 27% of payroll activity. The key here is that up to 69% of that activity can be automated with current technology. For example, with automatic data validation, the painstaking manual process of checking data and identifying errors prior to running payroll is replaced by an automated validation check that is completed in moments.

By focusing automation initiatives on those tasks, as opposed to entire roles, payroll teams can realize key practical benefits like greater accuracy and shorter cycle times while also relieving themselves of tedious, time-consuming work.

An Augmented Payroll Future

Finding the right balance of automated tasks and employee responsibilities is the key to unlocking the potential of RPA in global payroll and other core business functions. While automation holds incredible potential to improve both process and performance, the essentially human capacities for interpretation, creative thought, compassion, and more are required for the majority of payroll activities.

The value of automation is its ability to augment and improve the work performed by professionals. Rather than looking to automate entire roles or occupations, leading companies are applying RPA to the specific work for which it is designed: the repetitive, rule-based, high-volume tasks that robots can perform with greater speed and accuracy than people ever could.

The result is an augmented workforce of the future in which professionals are valued for their essential human qualities and able to focus their attention on the high-value work that requires their intelligence, while robotics and automation systems are used to streamline and optimize high-volume processing tasks.

 


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