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The Promise and Peril of Workflow Automation: An HR Perspective

As modern businesses continue to grow more complex by the day with increasing tech integrations, cost-saving goals, productivity metrics, and many more nuanced facets, organizations cite workflow automation coupled with the juggernaut of generative AI as a preferred solution to put all business bottlenecks to bed.

The latest Workflow Automation Survey conducted by Redpoint and Pipefy gathered opinions from 160 US respondents (14% were HR professionals) from organizations with over 500 employees. Approximately 50% of HR leaders say that when generative AI drives process automation, the expected efficiency boost would be 68%.

The survey revealed multiple advantages that imply why process automation is a sought-after software. A few concerns also surfaced that hinder organizations from incorporating these solutions hands-down.

Learn in detail the key takeaways from the survey revealing how HR professionals perceive process automation and the influencing factors that drive it.

Why Adopt Workflow Management in the First Place?

Productivity came up as the most cited benefit of adopting process management. 68% of HR professionals reported that process automation improves productivity, and 64% believe it boosts efficiency. Obviously, organizations and HR teams continue grappling with repetitive tasks that can be easily completed much faster with workflow automation. As for the efficiency boost, automated workflows run the same way every time as programmed, reducing the risk of errors often prevalent in manual operations.

Two other facets where HR professionals believe process automation delivers its perks are cost savings and conservation of IT resources, both cited by 59% of the respondents. In some ways, the productivity hike directly affects the cost savings metric. Automation taking care of redundant chores translates into employees focusing on the more complex tasks within an organization. It also helps remove paid wages involved in these tasks and reinvest the same into more critical business areas. Deploying automation across an organization also takes the load off IT teams, where they don’t have to provide support for everything – big and small.

Key Benefits of Process Automation

HR leaders cite multiple benefits of implementing workflow automation, among which these four perks came out at the top, with 59% of respondents agreeing on them:

  • Better ability to measure KPIs and metrics
  • Improved agility
  • Better collaboration
  • Cost savings

So, in sum, HR leaders believe that integrating workflow automation solutions enables organizations to better track, analyze, and optimize their processes. In turn, the overall mechanism becomes leaner and more agile, facilitating internal collaborations.

Generative AI: Fueling Automation to Next Level

64% of HR professionals indicate that generative AI is an important capability for evaluating process/workflow automation (compared to 58% of IT professionals and 33% of finance professionals).

This chart clearly showcases how significant a role generative AI plays in catapulting process automation potential (according to HR respondents):

Concerns of HR Leaders for Implementing Process Automation

Apart from the perks workflow automation brings to the table, HR leaders also cite some concerns and barriers to implementing automation in organizations.

45% of the respondents believe that automation is too expensive, and 36% have the notion that implementing automation is very complex. The fact that 53% of the companies surveyed are mid-size players with employees between 1,001 and 5,000 (so they would have a decent software purchase budget) showcases that the average price of automation software is higher than what companies prefer to spend. Further, the implementation complexity and time-taking metric (32% of HR leaders cited) act as added barriers.

36% of the HR respondents go on to cite the fear of losing jobs and lack of stakeholder buy-in as other major factors limiting their organization’s ability to implement automation initiatives. Multiple job roles in organizations entail repetitive tasks that can be programmed and completed with greater efficiency, as discussed earlier. The lack of stakeholder buy-in stems from multiple uncertainties, such as:

  • deploying automation would reduce costs by eliminating specific paid wages or increase costs in case programmed workflows have limitations;
  • whether an automation solution can customized, scaled, and made adaptable for future business use cases or it’d turn obsolete;
  • what it’d do to the data and security of the organization.

The Future for Process Automation Looks Bright, but Not Without Limitations

To sum up this survey, we can say that organizations look up to process/workflow automation solutions to streamline their processes and operations, but at the same time, are skeptical about how some things would turn out. Generative AI undoubtedly will remain a significant driver for this technology and help optimize and advance it to cater to the growing market demands.