11 Proven Business Process Automation Challenges

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak
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Navigating the complex landscape of business process automation challenges requires a deep understanding of the hurdles that organizations face in their search for operational efficiency. The pursuit of streamlined workflows and enhanced productivity is often hindered by a myriad of obstacles, ranging from technological complexities to resistance within organizational culture.

Effectively addressing these barriers is a must for organizations seeking sustainable growth and competitiveness in today’s dynamic business landscape. Embracing process automation offers the promise of increased efficiency, reduced operational costs, and enhanced accuracy in processes. However, overlooking or inefficiently managing them can lead to disruptions, decreased productivity, and missed opportunities.

By tackling these complexities, organizations can unlock the full potential of automation, streamline workflows, and empower their workforce to focus on strategic, value-added tasks.


The challenges of business process automation are:

Challenge #1. Process identification

Selecting the right processes for automation sets the foundation for a successful automation strategy, ensuring that the transformative power of technology is applied where it matters most.

This challenge requires an effective evaluation of organizational workflows to pinpoint those that can benefit most from automation. The challenge lies not just in recognizing processes that are technically feasible for automation but, more crucially, in understanding which processes align strategically with business objectives.

Challenge #2. Legacy system integration

To fully automate a process, you must be able to integrate with the various business line applications used in your business to complete the process cycle. Older systems do not allow for integration; thus, you will almost certainly end up with human intervention and negating the objective of your aim being attempted.

Overcoming this challenge is crucial because it ensures a smooth transition to automated processes without disrupting existing workflows. That’s where RPA can help in this area since it was created to automate repetitive tasks that consumes a lot of time from your employees by recording their interaction with legacy apps.

Challenge #3. Managing large volumes of data

As organizations increasingly rely on automation to streamline operations, the sheer volume of data generated and processed becomes a critical hurdle. Handling massive datasets requires robust infrastructure, efficient data storage solutions, and sophisticated analytics tools to derive meaningful insights.

Moreover, the quality, accuracy, and security of data must be maintained throughout the automation process. Ensuring that data flows seamlessly between different steps without bottlenecks or errors is a complex task, especially when dealing with diverse data sources.

For example, in my latest automation projects that I’m currently working on for one of the top construction companies in the Middle East with over 60.000 employees, handling the employees’ records and keep them updated is a true challenge and requires two human resources to keep them up to date.

Challenge #4. Maintaining security and privacy

As automation handles vast amounts of sensitive information, concerns surrounding unauthorized access, data breaches, and compliance with strict privacy regulations come to the forefront. Balancing the need for accessibility with the imperative to safeguard confidential data demands robust encryption protocols, secure access controls, and monitoring.

Compliance with regulations such as GDPR, HIPAA, or other industry-specific standards adds an additional layer of complexity, requiring organizations to implement stringent measures to protect customer information and maintain the trust of stakeholders.

Challenge #5. Lack of skilled labor

The shortage of a skilled workforce poses a significant obstacle to the successful implementation and optimization of BPA. As organizations increasingly turn to automation technologies, there is a growing demand for professionals with updated skills in areas such as robotic process automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data analytics.

The lack of individuals with these specialized skills can delay the development, deployment, and maintenance of automated processes. Moreover, the rapid evolution of BPA trends requires a workforce that is adaptable and continuously upskilled to harness the full potential.

Challenge #6. Costs and budget constraints

The initial investment required for acquiring process automation tools, software development, infrastructure upgrades, and employee training can drain organizational budgets. Moreover, the challenge extends beyond the initial costs, encompassing ongoing expenses for system maintenance, updates, and potential scalability needs.

Budget constraints may force organizations to prioritize certain processes over others, potentially overlooking opportunities for comprehensive automation and mitigating this challenge involves strategic financial planning, deep cost-benefit analysis, and a clear understanding of the transformative impact that well-implemented process automation can have on overall organizational performance.


Challenge #7. Customization complexity

The complexity associated with tailoring automation systems according to your business requirement can be a complex challenge to solve. Organizations mostly need to accommodate diverse processes each with its own set of rules, exceptions and variations. It takes time, skills, and advanced capabilities to achieve this level of customization without compromising cost, integrity, and coherence.

That is why when you look to adopt a new technology, you should make sure that it gives you the flexibility and customization needed before investing time and money into it.

Challenge #8. Resistance to change

Today’s business world is constantly changing, and it takes an incredible amount of time for an organization to smoothly adapt to these changes. This is especially true when the company has a large number of employees, or when there are numerous departments with varying levels of influence. With this in mind, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the organizational changes happening around you

Overcoming resistance from employees and stakeholders who may be resistant about adapting to new automated processes can impede successful implementation.

For example, our team dedicated efforts to automate the internal expense claims process for a multinational corporation. Throughout the project, we diligently engaged key stakeholders from the initial stages, emphasizing the enhanced value our automation aimed to provide. Regrettably, despite our comprehensive efforts, the VP of accounts ultimately withheld approval for production. This decision resulted in over a month of hard work going unrewarded.

Challenge #9. Lack of stakeholders’ buy-in

One of the most important challenges of business process automation is the lack of interest from stakeholders which can badly affect implementation. Without the buy-in of key stakeholders and employees, this process can be disrupted by a lack of understanding and resistance. to change.

The following three-step process outlines how to effectively facilitate and lead the conversation:

1. Define the desired outcome of the conversation with stakeholders and employees

2. Anticipate possible new or different perspectives to help break through resistance

3. Prepare for potential obstacles that may arise during the dialogue (eg, a strong personality)

Challenge #10. Scalability

Designing automation solutions that can scale with the growth of the organization is crucial to avoid the need for frequent overhauls and to accommodate changing business demands. Ensuring scalability involves designing automation projects that can efficiently scale up or down to meet evolving business needs without compromising performance.

This challenge becomes particularly visible in dynamic environments where the volume of processes, data, and users may fluctuate. Scalability isn’t just about handling increased loads but also addressing the potential for changes in business processes, integrations, and technological advancements.

You need to make sure that all the infrastructure and technologies involved can be dynamically scaled as per your business need without disruption.

Challenge #11. User training and adoption

Ensuring that employees are adequately trained to use new automated processes and fostering a culture of adoption are essential for maximizing the benefits of automation while minimizing disruptions in daily operations.

You need to make documentation, videos, and support available whenever employees need. This will increase the chance of successful implementation of any process automation project.

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