How to Build a Chatbot for HR Department Business Case
Building a solid business case is probably the single most important aspect of presenting a new project to the hierarchy.
This is certainly is true for a chatbot project. It is your job to put together a business case that lays out everything from options and risk to potential solutions on your HR chatbot project.
In the past couple of weeks, I had 42 meetings with HR departments of large companies. 40 out of the 42 (I counted) ended up with us talking about putting a business case together.
Editor's note: we decided to put our chatbot business case template out there for everyone to grab. We've fine-tuned this template over the years and always send it to our clients as they work to champion chatbots internally. Hope this helps!
I have no lessons to give you on building business cases. You most likely have put many together, it is part of what makes you a rocking HR rep. What I have found, though, is that when it comes to a chatbot for HR department, some of you can get a bit lost.
What is the real value-add? What does the solution cost? What are the exact risks? What sort of timeframe are we looking at?
I am not going to teach you how to build a business case. I will follow a standard structure and help you figure out what matters when it comes to chatbots in HR.
We know it isn't easy to jump into a new technology trend so we help any way we can.
Below is the structure we tend to follow.
- Problem statement and rationale
- Recommended solution
- Cost, timescales and required resources
- Investment appraisal
- Executive summary
- Final advice and recommendations
PS: I put the executive summary section at the end of the list on purpose. This is the way we help our clients build their business case, it makes sense to first go through all the steps before writing the summary. I would advise you to put the summary at the top of your document once you take it to your bosses -- but you knew that already, didn't you?
Problem statement and rationale
What is wrong and how does it affect your business?
This section is an obvious start. Wanting to bring a chatbot into your HR department is not good enough, you need a valid reason.
Use this section to describe what you feel is wrong, inefficient, or broken. Once you have taken the time to describe it, make sure you include the impact this inefficiency has on the business. Add as much data as you can to this section.
This is about showing (proving) the issues you see.
Here is a real life example I took from one of my meetings:
'Our HR department is composed of just two people overseeing over 4,500 employees across multiple continents. They quickly become overwhelmed, getting around 1,500 HR enquiries per month. The impact on the business is manifested by long delays in answering employee requests, leading to stress and overtime for the HR team, and disgruntled employees'.
Why is a chatbot for HR the solution?
Now you've described what the problem is, time to explain why a chatbot is the right solution.
Make sure you stay at a high level. Like the title suggests, this is a recommended solution. The rest of the business case will help you make that recommendation an obvious choice for your boss.
There are a few obvious points to hit when talking about implementing a chatbot solution for HR. Mainly, make sure you talk about the speed of answers and time saved.
An example taken from one of our clients:
'To help our HR team out, I recommend the use of a chatbot. Our HR chatbot would be an always-on virtual assistant. It would pick up on all the repetitive questions it can easily answer, unclogging our team's inbox and allowing them to focus on more complex requests'.
What else have you looked into to solve this?
As you know, you should always present a few other ideas you have considered to fix this issue. In the case of deploying a company-facing chatbot, the most common alternative would be to hire more people.
Explain why you considered and rejected the alternatives. This section does not have to be very long. Focus on the main points (which come up later again): timeline and money.
An example taken from one of our clients:
'We considered two alternatives to the deployment of an HR chatbot to solve this issue.
The first was to employ four more people. Four additional HR reps would divide the workload just enough to become manageable. Employing four individuals would take us about six months + training, and cost £235,000 per year.
The second was to set up a self-serve HR platform where employees can search for their issues and find their answers without the need to contact the HR reps. Finding and implementing the right software, training the employees how to use it would take eight months.'
Ok, a chatbot for HR. Tell us more.
This is where the magic happens. This section is where you sell your idea to the C-suite.
You must go into describing the benefits of a chatbot for HR. We talk about this a lot in this blog, you might find some inspiration in these pages.
The best way to go at it is to cover all the issues you are trying to solve. Explain how the chatbot would help each one individually. This section should arguably be the most comprehensive of all.
'A HR chatbot will help us reduce workload, unclog our team's inboxes, and make our employees happier by instantly answering the most common questions.
The chatbot would sit on our internal website, easily accessible to any employee day and night. Thanks to its constant training and its access to our database of policies, our chatbot would always deliver the right answer, instantly.'
Cost, timescales, resources
Money and time. But mostly money.
Most of your readers will skip straight to this part. This is where you explain how much all of this will cost.
Getting this information from your chatbot building company is critical. By this point, you should have had a couple of meetings with them already. You should have an idea of how much their services are going to cost.
Don't forget to grab our 20 Must-Ask Questions for Your Chatbot Developer. It comes in handy for these early meetings.
Our chatbot developer reporting card will help you out.
Let me be clear: you may not have a definitive price just yet. Depending on where the project goes, prices might fluctuate. After all, this business case is here for you to present the idea to your bosses. The available budget might be completely different than you expect.
However, you still need a baseline to work with. Ask your providers for an estimation. Don't be afraid to set a speculative project and ask for a price on that. Again, it may not be the final price, but it should be close enough to build this section of the business case.
The same rule applies for the timescale. How long is this build going to take? You need to have an idea, thus you need to ask.
As far as resources, your chatbot building company should let you know what they need to achieve your dream HR bot. Which documents will they need? In which format? Do they need access to employee records? Do they need a custom API or can they use the one you already have in place? A good chatbot building company will ask these questions before you even think of them.
An example of this section might be:
'Developing and deploying an HR chatbot to solve all of the issues above would cost us between £15,000 and £25,000. It would take four weeks to build and two weeks to train. Our providers would need access to our employee handbook and all our policy documents'.
Is there anything we might lose/break doing this?
This section is not just about capital. Integrating chatbot technology into a company is a bold move. AI-driven interfaces are at the forefront of technology, you are leading the way.
Leading comes hand in hand with risk. You should be upfront in this section. What are the risks to your company and brand when deploying this solution?
Thankfully for you, internal chatbots do not carry as much risk. Since no one outside of the company (i.e. customers) are going to interact with the chatbot. Still, you should make your C-suite aware.
An example could be:
'We may risk spending six weeks on a chatbot our employees will not really enjoy using.'
Let the formula geeks loose
It is time to bring it all together. The formula is simple (but complicated). Take how much your issue is costing your company right now and compare it to the cost of developing the chatbot. Then factor in the savings you are going to make over the next X years by using the chatbot.
Does the investment make sense?
Only you know how to calculate this for your company.
An example might be:
'By deploying a chatbot to take over 30% of the daily enquiries our HR team receives, we save them 50% of their time which equates to £17,000 per month.'
I am too busy to read this entire document
Be concise and to the point. This section is probably the most important of all. You will put it at the very top of the document, allowing your busiest bosses to quickly catch up on the project.
It could look something like this:
'Our HR team is facing an enormous amount of employee enquiries. These enquiries are slowing their productivity and distracting them from important tasks such as recruitment, reporting and auditing. Our employees' rating of the HR department is at its all-time lowest.
We want to bring in a HR chatbot to handle the most common and repetitive HR enquiries. It would enable the HR team to save up to 30% of their time and make our employees happier; receiving instant answers to their questions.
The cost to deploy an HR chatbot would be approximately £20,000 but would help us save up to £17,000 per month.'
Final advice and recommendations
Ok, how do we do this? What's next?
This section is for action. You have presented them with all of this information, now it is time to tell them what's next.
Usually, we urge our potential clients to put contact details in this section. We go as far as making sure we are available at the time they present this document to their team, so they can call us immediately with everyone still in the room.
Do as you feel. Have a few next steps prepared. For example, you could do this:
'Should we move forward on this project, I would like to introduce you to the chatbot building company I have researched prior to this presentation. They are based in the UK and have a track record doing this sort of work for other companies with similar issues.
I would like to organise a face-to-face meeting with one of their project managers and everyone here. This meeting will serve as an introduction and further veto to make sure everyone is happy with them.'
Alright, this was a long write-up. I hope you have found what you were looking for? Don't forget to grab our business case template.
Once again, this is not a lesson on how to build a business case. I wanted to offer you some insight on how we help our potential clients present this new technology to their teams.
If there is anything I have missed or you have any further question, please get in touch.