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hr automationThe sad reality in many non-profit organizations is that its systems and policies are stymieing their efforts to grow, not enhancing them. Human resources, which ideally should be a tool for gathering and implementing feedback to improve the organization, is usually swamped with work because their processes are arduous and antiquated.

Luckily, automation can replace much of that labor and streamline processes that were once stuck in the mud, freeing HR staff up to do the job they were intended to do.

If you’re ready to automate your HR systems and improve your organization’s efficiency, it’s not smart to jump straight into the deep end. There’s some work you’ll need to do beforehand if you want to be successful when implementing automation.

In this article, we’ll look at that first step and how to do it most effectively.

Set the Stage for Success

The first step, whether you’re a newbie to the organization or it’s your second home, is to record all the details about the current state of HR within the organization.

This process begins with data gathering. Your goal is to understand and document the interactions your organization has with its most important investments: its employees.

When I begin this step with my clients, I often receive pushback. Most HR teams are already strapped for time, so why should they take more time to write things down?

I understand this feeling, but there’s no getting around the first step in fixing your HR systems: writing down how those systems look in a comprehensive manner.

It may take two to four days to complete this task, but it’s worth it. If your first instinct is to refuse and say the task is too huge, that’s proof alone that you must do it.

Throughout the data-gathering process, you’ll gain a strong understanding of what needs to be fixed because your attention will be drawn directly to it.

Data Gathering Made Easy

If the task of data gathering sounds too huge, don’t worry. It’s easy to get started.

Your first step is to write down (or type out) these four life cycle events:

  1. Onboarding

  2. Offboarding

  3. Annual reviews/open enrollment

  4. Ad hoc

Start with the employee’s experience and think of the steps they go through for each event. Then list how each process looks from HR’s perspective.

As you work, incorporate enough detail so, in theory, you could hand your file over to someone new (either employee or HR), and they could follow the steps clearly.

Work through the process in small bites. For example, break down annual enrollment or annual review into two parts: one part should be benefits renewal, and the other part should be performance appraisals, bonuses, and pay raises.

Then break pay raises, bonuses, and performance appraisals down. Next, break appraisal down into selecting metrics, gathering information, and evaluating data.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What do the processes look like for determining employee performance?

  • How do you communicate them? How do you gather your data?

  • What is the time frame for all of those elements?

  • Don’t forget ad hoc events: promotions, demotions, family status changes, leaves and sabbaticals, and more. Hopefully each of these ad hoc events will only be four or five sentences, but they need to be in there, even if the procedure is straightforward.

    It’s important not to worry about improving processes at this juncture. Simply record them as they are. If you realize you don’t have a step for a particular event—offboarding an employee who leaves on bad terms, for example—leave it blank and move on.

    Once complete, take a minute to examine your list that’s written from both an employee and an HR perspective. Odds are, you’ll find opportunities for improvement.

    These areas requiring improvement will spell out the needs a new automated system must fill for your organization, enabling you to write a detailed request for proposal (RFP) that can be sent out to various vendors in the next step of this process.

    Rhamy Alejeal and his wife, Elizabeth, are the owners of Poplar Financial, a provider of a suite of integrated, automated HR processes. Rhamy and his team work with hundreds of companies across the United States, helping them learn how to stop pushing paper and start prioritizing people and boosting company performance as a result. In addition, Rhamy is proud to serve on the Federal Reserve Industry’s Council on Healthcare, where he gives insights into employer costs and how they affect businesses in today’s marketplace. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in financial economics and an MBA with a focus on labor economics. Find him at or listen to his podcast at

    Last modified on Monday, 27 August 2018
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