5 Pitfalls of Business Process Automation

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Any leader who has been paying attention can see the potential for business process automation (BPA) to increase productivity, make processes more efficient and open new growth opportunities.

As much as BPA can be beneficial for modern businesses, it isn’t as simple as finding new automation tools and throwing them at processes and problems. It takes time and consideration to properly deploy a successful automation solution.

With so many business leaders focusing on business process automation, we hear about (and create!) success stories daily. Inevitably, there are also many examples of organisations succumbing to some of the common pitfalls.

It can be expensive to learn these lessons the hard way. Look out for these traps when undertaking your next BPA project.

1. Narrow solutions result in technical debt

It can be tempting to jump at an automation solution that seems perfect for a specific process. The problem with this approach is that it will result in a siloed technical landscape. You could end up with a range of competing workflows that all work well on their own, but lack the ability to work together or offer solutions outside their immediate scope.

Instead of focusing on solutions that can work well for narrow applications, it’s best to find technical assets that apply across multiple workflows. It might take a little more time to plan and deploy, but it will help the organisation create a more cohesive technical ecosystem.

2. Overengineering Processes

In some cases, project leaders can go a little too far with their process automation initiatives. They might work so hard to engineer and refine solutions that they almost end up creating a black box. People give the system inputs and receive useful outputs, but no one really knows how it works.

This level of automation might seem ideal, but it can cause problems. There will always be situations that don’t follow the expected path: people make mistakes, systems fail. When the solution operates like a black box, you have nowhere to go when the unexpected happens. That is why these systems need to offer some type of log or auditing procedure.

3. Getting leadership on board

Many process automation projects fail before they even start. Someone sees the potential for the business to benefit from automation, but they can’t get decision-makers to approve the project. It might be that the solution doesn’t grab their attention or that they don’t see or understand the benefits.

This is why it can pay to think about the automation solution in a way that is more comprehensive. Instead of just looking at it as a problem and solution, consider all the ways the BPA initiative could have an impact on the business. Maybe it will enhance the working experience of people in other departments. Maybe it could be used to improve a broader array of processes. The more complete your picture is, the more you can increase the chance of gaining approval for the project.

4. Failures in Change Management

This problem is more common than many realise. Leaders focus on the technical implementation of the solution itself and fail to lay the groundwork for implementation.

The first step of successful change management is to involve the people who interact with these systems in the planning stages of process automation. Find out what they want and what they would recommend. Employees will need to be taught how to use these systems, and it might take some encouragement from key team members to get everyone to buy-in. You don’t just have to deliver it, you have to sell it.

5. Regular Assessments of New Tools

BPA initiatives are often imperfect on their initial deployment. Taking the time to reassess will give you the opportunity to validate the solution. It might be that it is running to near perfection and that everyone is happy. However, you might identify several opportunities for improvement.

Plan to reassess the solutions every six months or once a year.

Business process automation can offer a path to rapid increases in productivity and growth. With that said, BPA projects require planning and deliberation. If you act too fast and without proper thought, you can create new problems that – rather than solve problems – end up making things worse. WebVine have extensive experience with process automation, particularly using the Power Platform. Contact us today!