Please indulge my imagination for a few minutes. Dial back the clock 25 years (somewhat coincidentally to 1983, the year I graduated high school) and imagine your organization then. There was no Internet, no email, no word processers, and no spreadsheets. If there was an accounting system, it ran on big iron: a multimillion dollar minicomputer or mainframe that sat deep in the bowels of the “data processing” department. If there was a payroll system–human resources systems had hardly been defined yet–it too ran on the big iron, or perhaps it was outsourced. The accounting system was, for the most part, a payables and receivables ledger–an engine for cranking out checks and invoices–a huge amount of the number crunching was still being done the way it had been for a few thousand years: by hand on big ledger sheets.

Unless you’re close to my age or older, this environment might be hard to imagine.  To fill in the gap of efficiency that automation wouldn’t fill for another 5 to 10 years, firms had to hire dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people–human calculators–to manage business processes. How could firms survive with such overhead?

Along came the personal computer and the miracle business software invention of all time, the spreadsheet. I was a technician in those days, installing PCs for automation-hungry businesses (large and small), but I knew that the sales guys (slicker, oilier, older guys with shiny suits that always bore smells of cigarette smoke) were raking in the commissions on the argument, by automating, you’ll be able to “repurpose” all these people, for just $4,000 and your shiny new PC won’t even consume all your coffee.

Hard to imagine?  To paraphrase a quote (somewhat dubiously) attributed to Charles Duell of the U.S. Patent office, everything that can be automated, has already been automated, right?

There is a process in your organization (and I can say, “your organization” universally because all employers have the same process) that is more than likely still manual.  Not only that, it’s a process that is highly regulated by government at all levels and your organization is at significant risk if you don’t get it right (accounting ledgers in the 80s didn’t have that problem).  It’s a process that research shows costs your organization well over $1000 each time the process happens.

And it can be automated.  The process that costs you over $1000 and puts you at significant risk can be contained to a tenth of that or less.  And it won’t even drink all your coffee.

So I scratch my head when we hear from a prospect that onboarding is a project they’ll get to next year.  You have to ask the question, what will happen in the meantime: what will happen if you don’t implement an automated onboarding process today?

To keep numbers simple, assume your manual process is pretty efficient and multiply the number of hires you do by $1000.  If you do 20 hires a month, in the next year you’ll have spent $240,000.  If you do 50 hires a month, you’ll have spent $600,000.  Not to mention left yourself exposed to compliance risk from a manual process: one client I had years ago regularly coughed up tens of thousands of dollars at a time for non-compliant I9s.

So while you wait to get to that onboarding project next year, just know how much it’s costing you.  Imagine how you might have invested that money in more marketing, more recruiting, more benefits for your employees, or perhaps simply more profits.  We’ll be here, ready to automate your onboarding process, when you’re ready for us.

Update: Chuck sold Emerald Software Group in 2011. You can learn about his new company by clicking here.

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