5 Challenges of Business Process Automation and How to Overcome Them

For all of its transformative potential – more efficient ways of working, cost savings and competitive advantage – Business Process Automation (BPA) can serve up a host of issues for the unprepared. And if not managed with care, each one can swiftly short-circuit individual automation projects as well as larger ambitions.

In short, the stakes are high. But awareness of the pitfalls can make all the difference, giving your teams a chance to anticipate and rise above them.

So take an essential first step in your transformation journey by shedding light on the five challenges of business process automation – and get five tips for helping your organization to move forward with confidence.

1.    Automation can’t fix a bad process

Business process automation (BPA) can do a lot of great things for your organization, like helping to drive new efficiencies, save costs and free your people to focus on more high-value work. One thing it can’t do is make a broken process work any better than it does without automation. Bad processes demand an entirely different kind of intervention!

You need to focus your automation efforts on mature processes with established rules and ready-made data inputs – ones that don’t require excess coordination between different teams and departments – so you can deliver tangible results in a short timeframe.

Better BPA tip #1: Map out your processes prior to the introduction of BPA to establish a clear picture of each step and identify any potential bottlenecks.


2.    Success is often left undefined

It’s easy to get excited about the benefits of business process automation. But it can be just as easy to dive into the implementation stage without defining what success will look like. 

So even if a project appears to be going well and your people are feeling the positive impacts of automation, a lack of robust success metrics will make it difficult to demonstrate ROI to business leaders – or earn support for future automation projects.

Better BPA tip #2: Define specific measurements of success (e.g., increased productivity, risk reduction, cost savings, customer satisfaction) and aim to quantify the business value of a top-rated low-code process automation technology.


3.    Scaling can stumble without a clear plan

One of the frequent surprise challenges of business process automation comes from an understandable place: being too focussed on the short-term – in everything from communication and setup to execution and results. Projects get built for a specific number of users, based on an existing IT infrastructure, and a lack of flexibility quickly makes it difficult to scale.

While business leaders want to see their investments deliver a rapid return, they won’t be thrilled if quick wins end up hindering long-term objectives. You need to know from the start how a project will scale as your organization grows.

Better BPA tip #3: Cloud platforms provide an ideal solution when scaling threatens to become an issue – giving you the ability to scale applications up and down as your needs evolve.


4.    Employee buy-in gets left behind

Sometimes the failure of an automation project can be boiled down to a simple lack of communication between project leaders and employees – about why the change is required, why it won’t be a threat to jobs, and what short- and long-term benefits it will bring. 

The success of your business process automation efforts will be built on your ability to bring people along with you – both those directly impacted by the planned changes and the wider organization.

Better BPA tip #4: Put transparency and people-focused change management at the heart of your automation plans to ensure you’re addressing employee concerns – and giving people the opportunity to feel part of a project’s success.


5.    Good intentions get snagged on big problems

The acquisition of powerful automation tools can often be accompanied by an equally powerful desire to solve large, complex process issues – or overhaul everything in a single go. The temptation can prove too much for many organizations, which leads to projects becoming tangled up in complicated workflows that frustrate and demotivate stakeholders.

When that happens, an organization’s enthusiasm and support for automation and broader digital transformation projects can fizzle out - fast.

Better BPA tip #5: Start small. Think big. Grow fast. Beginning with one simple process enables your team to get to grips with the challenges of business process automation – learning lessons, iterating quickly, and becoming experts equipped with proven best practices. Once you’ve done that (and worked to overcome the other common pitfalls that come with introducing BPA), you can confidently move on to transforming the bigger, thornier processes.

Visit our automation page to learn more about making business process automation a success in your organization.