Making support services telecommuting-ready via business process automation
Updated: Aug 27
The human resources, finance, and office admin departments have almost always been people-intensive teams whose activities are typically accomplished offline or in-person. As teams that take care of important documents, automating support processes to boost efficiency wherever the employees may be might not be as simple as it seems.
Nevertheless, it pays to shift processes online not only to improve the process but also to ensure the delivery of critical support services to production teams even if employees are telecommuting.
As we transition into a full digitally-enabled organization, especially during this time of community quarantine, QuickReach/BlastAsia strives to accommodate support requests and maintain HR, finance, and office admin activities that need to continue even if everybody is telecommuting. Our first step is to prioritize crucial processes such as employee requests, payroll processing, expense approval and make them available via Steer.
1. Employee Requests
We have prioritized to automate the most common request that the HR department receives from the employees: requests for the issuance of records such as certificate of employment, certificate of contributions to the Home Development Mutual Fund (HDMF), Philippine Social Security System (SSS) and Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) and the processing of and concerns relating to loan applications, bank loans, SSS loans, and Pag-IBIG loans.
Using Steer, we built a custom online form that requires requestors to provide needed information starting off with the type of document/service needed. The succeeding fields and information needed will then depending on the request. The submitted form/request creates a ticket subject for HR’s processing offline and automatically sends back feedback to the requestor with the attached documents once ready.
Automating this workflow and making it available online makes it easier to cater to important requests for documents that employees may need for various purposes while telecommuting. With the online filing and processing of these requests, the employees and the HR team alike get to save time from offline filing and claiming and processing the documents in person. With this set up in place, it is expected that requesting gets more convenient and the tracking of requests is made easier.
2. Expense Approval
We chose this as one of our pilot processes as our workflows are manual and, as in most manual processes, quite dysfunctional. We knew intuitively that there were low hanging fruits to pick from an efficiency standpoint, therefore, going through a business process review would generate quick wins for the team. This allows us to immediately cut non-value adding activities from the flow, enabling resources to perform the more essential and critical ones that add value to the organization. Lastly and probably the most crucial, this workflow has a direct effect on our customers – our employees - thus the desire to deliver services without going through a painful, lengthy process, such as seeking unnecessary approvals from various departments. Incorporating automation into this process allowed us to improve our services, in one instance, cutting delivery of essential goods from 2 weeks to 3 days. This freed up necessary resources to focus more on essential and value-adding activities and gave our teams the momentum and energy to review other support activities knowing that this new, automated process yields immediate results.
3. Payroll As a service organization, compensation occupies the largest chunk of our budget. It is not only crucial but essential to have a tight grip of the entire process flow, from agreements with employees and consultants to the compliance reports associated with the compensation payments.
On Steer, the flow is triggered by a filled-up form by the HR for a specified billing period. A report will be generated based on employee attendance and will be sent to the third-party payroll provider. The provider sends back a report subject for the HR and Accounting and Finance Department’s verification after which the final approver, in this case, the CEO, approves the payroll conveniently online. Once done, the payroll provider gets notified to send out the payslips to the employees.
By automating this workflow, we hope to create a seamless, end-to-end business process, from HR, all the way to compliance reporting. This should cut the process from weeks to days, without losing controls and confidentiality, and while increasing transparency and accountability from process owners.
Keeping support functions running round the clock
We believe that business process automation is a powerful tool that will help companies address their biggest operational challenges. Among the benefits of BPA that we have discussed is our prior article is that it enables our key support functions to be available to our employees anytime, anywhere, at the same time keeps support teams efficient and productive.
Business process automation is the new normal for us now, even after everything settles down and we’re all back in the office. We hope companies like ours, as we have shared in this article, have taken their first steps towards automating their business processes to ensure that operations run seamlessly and efficiently amid any disruption.