5 Common Challenges Leaders Face in Business Process Automation

In its most overarching description, business process management is the discipline of optimizing business processes in order to improve business outcomes. Business process automation, and more specifically intelligent process automation, leverages automation technology to make this happen.

While business process automation continues to be a pillar of digital transformation and a key driver for success, there are still challenges that accompany the undertaking. Today, we’ll address 5 big ones.

Challenge 1: A Siloed Perspective and Narrow Focus

RPA-Challenges-5 Solving problems in compartmentalized fashion often fixes one set of challenges while creating others, and this rings true in process automation as well. Without planning beyond the immediate silo or departmental challenge, there is no way to anticipate how process changes–even seemingly positive ones–might affect other departments, nor how they will impact broader company goals.

Instead, create multi-faceted workgroups and build cross-functional cooperation efforts that align with objectives from business leaders. Getting input from various disciplines ensures that process automation can be a key driver for digital transformation, and that collaboration can work the way it is intended: with individuals from different perspectives working together for the collective. Ideally, these groups can be determined well ahead of automation projects.

Challenge 2: Insufficient Process Documentation

This problem is not localized to only business processes, but the implications for it are magnified. Relying exclusively on tribal knowledge to establish a documented business process is a disservice to both the tribe and the knowledge. However well-meaning, this kind of knowledge transfer is typically incomplete, occasionally incorrect, and often unintentionally biased.

Rather than relying on people to design the process, get the data straight from the source. Use Process Intelligence to capture accurate, real-time data from systems already in place. This raw data can help you build existing workflows, begin to assess where the biggest problem areas are located, and understand which aspects of your business process are best primed for automation.

Challenge 3: Lack of Agility

If 2020 has taught us nothing else, it’s that unpredictable change is a constant possibility. Planning for process automation without accounting for unplanned disruption will, at best, limit what you can accomplish with automation. And at worst, it can sabotage your digital transformation efforts, causing havoc every time unplanned change occurs. This is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses in general.

Instead of building a rigid plan, build a roadmap that allows for flexibility and adaptability, with opportunities to adjust when needed. Anticipate change where you can, be flexible enough to react when you cannot, and have enough built-in resilience to change course when needed. And work with technology built to do the same. The EPSoft Intelligent Automation Platform, for instance, is designed to detect changes and variances to your business process, and automatically sends an alert asking if you’d like to make an adjustment.

Challenge 4: Synchronizing the Hybrid Workforce

Once automation initiatives are fully up and running, you will have two functional workforces: one comprising automated bots and the other, your human staff. From allaying misguided fears about losing jobs, to comprehensive training and ensuring the proper execution of automation, synchronizing the efforts among your new hybrid workforce is a critical factor to success. The human team must know how to leverage bots to their maximum value. Not only that, but with proper implementation, they will be empowered to improve their own quality of work. Learn more about the dynamics of Bot and Service Orchestration here. 

Challenge 5: Poorly Defined Metrics that Undervalue ROI

Intelligent automation is not about improving a single business function. It’s using technology across the entire portfolio of business processes in order to optimize every aspect of every process with automation. Additionally, many of the benefits of intelligent process automation are not directly financial. So, while undeniably transformative, process automation does not fit neatly into a traditional benefit ÷ cost ROI formula. Trying to do so anyway shortchanges the actual returns, and misrepresents its impact.

It’s important to expand the scope of what is considered “added value.” Some of these things may include traditional metrics, like processing times, revenue, employee overtime costs. Others might be intangible, like employee job satisfaction or improved customer experience. And others still might be long-term metrics, like measurable improvements to compliance. Putting all of these considerations on the scale is the only true way to measure returns.

These challenges can all be significant in their own ways. But knowing how they may affect your plans as you begin to integrate process automation will help you build a smarter, more cohesive approach.

Have questions about where to get started? Schedule a free demo today.

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