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Award-winning national recruitment agency turns to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with Sherpa Works and UiPath to provide a better candidate experience, and free up its own people for more valuable work.

“It wasn’t a great way to start a Monday morning, but now the bots just do it.”

16th March 2021, Sydney.

people2people, an award-winning recruitment agency which employs 110 people in seven offices across Australia and New Zealand, announces that it has successfully automated 8 business processes using RPA (Robotic Process Automation) with UiPath specialist Sherpa Works, and that a further 9 are in development.

“With 7,500 recruitment agencies in Australia, it’s a hugely competitive market,” explained Mark Smith, Group Managing Director of people2people. “You can either differentiate on service level or on price and margin. If you’re going to do the former you need a competitive advantage. And if you’re going to do the latter you need a firm control on your back-office costs. Of course, ideally you try to do both.”

“I was always looking for back-office efficiencies and had explored offshoring and systems integration with APIs, but both were expensive to set up. Then I spoke with Sherpa Works about RPA and UiPath. The moment I heard we could use robots to integrate between systems and build automations a world of possibilities opened up for me.”

In December 2019 people2people began their RPA journey with Sherpa Works and UiPath. An initial on-site discovery process identified 15 candidate processes for automation. During this 16-hour initial consulting engagement Sherpa Works spent time with the frontline staff managing the processes to understand how they worked, locate where productivity gains could be found, and – importantly – get staff and management buy-in so that everyone was comfortable with the idea that the robots would be there to help them rather than replace them.

Mark continued: “Although we’d initially been speaking about cost control my mind went first to the front office and the candidate experience. If we can trump the competition by offering a better experience, we have more chance of landing the quality candidates our clients want. So, the first automation was for job alerts, which has resulted in a remarkable increase in job applications via our own website. Your mind then turns to what other processes you can automate to either boost your competitive advantage or control your costs. Once you start the floodgates just open.”

One process that was ripe for automation was the Australian Government immigration status check that companies have to perform when they make a new hire. Previously this involved a member of the branch staff contacting the candidate for their details, chasing those up, then manually submitting them to the Government’s VEVO (Visa Entitlement Verification Online) system.

Janet Gebre, Shared Services Business Partner at people2people, explained the benefits of automating this whole process. “First of all, it’s streamlined the whole interview, offer and onboarding process for candidates so it takes a lot less time for them. From our side, taking the responsibility for this away from the consultant doing the interviews allows them to focus on their main job, which is to find and hire the best possible candidates. The cost of doing the process manually has been eliminated from the branches, and it’s also freed up around 10 hours a week of my time, which I can now spend on training our consultants and other business improvement activities rather than admin. Finally, we can now be certain that we’ve checked everyone’s Visa before they’re placed.”

In any business the finance department, although crucial, is a major back office and admin cost. This is particularly true for a recruitment agency that can have thousands of temp staff on its books at any time and for whom it needs to do payroll. Many of these tasks are repetitive in nature and so are prime candidates for automation, as Elena Yang, Finance Manager at people2people explained: “As a business you cannot innovate if everyone is bogged down in day-to-day activities. Introducing RPA to accounts receivable, accounts payable, bank reconciliations, and soon payroll was a natural step. It has helped the team reduce the hours spent on low-level, high-volume repetitive tasks. We can now allocate manpower to more valuable areas like complex general ledger and inter company accounts, customised reporting, and accounts consolidation. The analytics and insights into the business those activities give us help deliver better commercial outcomes, not to mention everyone is happier in their jobs.”

For Amine Merhab, Credit Controller, the RPA bots have saved an hour-and-a-half a day matching remittances to invoices in Xero. The bot scans the inbox daily, extracts the remittance advices and even stores them in a folder, which leaves a record for the auditors. Amine said: “Now I have more time I can focus on things that bring more value to the company, like calling customers for collections which helps brings cash into the business faster.”

The automation of some accounts payable tasks is also freeing up time for Financial Accountant, Grant Pearce. RPA bots equipped with computer vision extract information direct from supplier invoices and encode it into Xero. “We are also automating the weekly invoice importing,” Grant said. “This used to involve me downloading reports from various databases including Salesforce and manipulating that data in Excel to create a CSV file to upload to Xero. It wasn’t a great way to start a Monday morning but now the bots just do it, freeing up a couple hours of my time that I can spend on more meaningful tasks instead.”

With the continued support of Sherpa Works and UIPath, people2people has committed to automating a further 9 processes, with potential scope for many more. Mark Smith concluded: “The potential scope for what could be automated is almost unlimited. We’re delighted with the results delivered so far in terms of cost and time savings as well as other meaningful business outcomes.”

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About people2people

Established in 2005, people2people is a proudly Australian recruitment agency that thinks global and acts local.

We use best in class technology and systems to find the perfect match for both candidates and clients across a wide range of industries and can leverage unique opportunities through our extensive networks. While technology is integral to what we do, it’s our people-centric approach that sets us apart. After all, we’re all about bringing people and opportunities together and we pride ourselves in doing right by our clients and contractors, always.

It’s not about a general ability to find talent or woo candidates - it’s about the specific ability to tap into the pipeline of people with the right skills, right cultural fit, and right experience to be successful in a particular organisation.

It all comes down to one concept – knowing. Knowing where the organisation is headed, knowing the skills and behaviours required to get there, knowing the culture, knowing what success in each job role looks like, knowing where to find individuals who meet those needs, and knowing how to build relationships with them.


About Sherpa Works

Sherpa Works is an Australian owned and operated Robotic Process Automation (RPA) consultancy specialising in helping SME and Mid-Market businesses achieve business process automation.

RPA, also known as Software Robots, unleash your employees from boring, low-value, routine, and repetitive tasks, so they can focus on taking your business to the next level of growth and beyond.

Talk to us about setting you staff free to do the jobs you hired them for, not the repetitive tasks you pay them for.


About UiPath

UiPath has a vision to deliver the Fully Automated Enterprise™, one where companies use automation to unlock their greatest potential. UiPath offers an end-to-end platform for automation, combining the leading Robotic Process Automation  (RPA) solution with a full suite of capabilities that enable every organization to rapidly scale digital business operations.


Press enquiries

Please contact David Barlow on david.barlow@sherpaworks.com.au or call 02 9121 6274.