In the Driver’s Seat: How to Automate HR at Your Own Speed

In the Driver’s Seat: How to Automate HR at Your Own Speed

Steve Wilson
March 29, 2022

As a former product developer turned business leader, I’m in a unique position to talk to both software developers building applications and the customers who will end up using them. One of the topics that comes up a lot with both groups is automation technology. Developers can’t get enough of it; ask them about automation and they’ve already got a list of at least a dozen annoying tasks they’d rather not spend another second doing manually. That isn’t much of a surprise given the long history of automated tools in the software world.

For customers in the HR field, however, the conversation is a little more complicated. They know automation can help make their jobs easier, but implementing big changes to their processes comes with a lot of risk. There are plenty of questions about budget and buy-in, not to mention justifiable concerns about transitioning away from flawed, but familiar, manual processes. Fortunately, implementing automation doesn’t have to be scary.

Setting the Right Pace (For You)

One of the biggest things I’ve learned working with customers at OnTask is that the most successful automation projects are the ones that progress at a speed people are comfortable with. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing scenario. Making changes at an organization is sort of like making changes in your personal life. Sometimes people decide to get healthier by training for a triathlon, but sometimes they get started by simply cutting fast food out of their diet.

The point here is that it doesn’t really matter how you get started, just that you identify a path forward so you can begin the process. Often, we see customers start by automating one process and branching out to more as time goes on. You also want to make sure that you’re setting realistic goals and have a clear strategy for achieving them. Part of that includes being honest about where you are now and how much change you can realistically achieve over time.

This can be especially complicated for HR professionals, since so much of what they do impacts other departments. It may take time to secure enough buy-in or muster the resources needed to implement automation, but as long as you’re able to make steady, consistent progress toward that goal, you’re still on the path to transforming your processes and creating a more efficient and productive way to work.

Start Small (Or Big)

Some of the most successful automation projects start out small, and taking a slow and steady approach can be a great way to get started. In a lot of cases, teams start with a specific functionality that is ideally suited for automation and relatively easy to implement. Vaccination tracking is a great example of this kind of task. Throughout 2021, we saw companies of all sizes and industries exploring ways to automate health tracking for their HR teams. It was a specific use case that kept the scope of automation projects very focused, which made it easier for them to implement a solution (of course, it also helped that it was a pressing need!). Today, many of the users who started their journey with vaccine tracking have now automated other processes like onboarding, vendor contracts, and more.

The great thing about an automation solution is that once implementation starts and everyone sees how much time and money they can save, it’s much easier to secure the buy-in for expanding your use cases. If you’re thinking ahead, I suggest looking into automation platforms with scalabilityto expand with your ambitions.

At the same time, there’s something to be said for going big right away! If you’ve got strong commitment to making a change to your HR processes throughout the organization and have the resources to undertake that effort, there’s no reason to delay for another moment. Implementing big changes is always a challenge, but it’s also a great opportunity to reset and reinvent the way you do things. The key is being comfortable with the level of change you’re committing to, small or big.

Automation Helps You Be You

Another thing I’ve learned working with HR departments is that everybody does things a little differently. An automation solution shouldn’t fundamentally change the way your business works just because the solution can’t adapt to your processes. By finding a technology partner who is willing to work with you to understand your current workflows and translate them into smooth digital experiences, you can make the transition away from tedious, manual HR tasks as seamless as possible.

When your initial experience with automation technology is a successful one, it’s much easier to build momentum for more ambitious digital transformation goals. The key to success is moving at your own speed. By identifying what functionalities are best suited for automation and setting out to achieve clearly defined goals, you’re more likely to translate early success into a broader commitment to embracing automation technology for additional HR processes. Working with the right partners who are willing and able to customize their solutions to fit your unique needs will also put you on a proven track toward success.

About the Author

Steve Wilson has dedicated his time at OnTask, a division of Accusoft, to making workflow automation simple and accessible for HR professionals. As the head of product management at OnTask, Steve has worked to develop a simple, no-code automation tool that fits the needs of HR departments. His work on OnTask allows HR team members to automate employee health tracking, onboarding, PTO requests, and various other human capital-based processes.
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