Top 10 reasons why process automation projects fail
Solvexia’s mission is to help transform our clients’ businesses through process automation. As part of this role, we spend a lot of time with people learning about how existing and prior automation projects were “not as successful as hoped for” (in other words, they failed). We value this knowledge greatly, since we strive to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.
Through much consultation, we have built up a clear view on the most common problems. While all the normal project management mistakes also apply to a process automation project, there are problems that are either unique or overly represented in our field.
This article lists these observations, roughly in the order they’d emerge during a process automation project, with the hope that our readers can benefit from our experiences.
First, what sort of projects are we talking about?
We refer specifically to projects that aim to deliver automated versions of existing business processes. These include producing billing reports, management exception reports and revenue forecasting. What these processes have in common is:
- They are data intensive, typically using multiple spreadsheets, extracted files from legacy systems and other data sources
- They are being performed by skilled staff in a highly manual fashion
- They are recurring processes, usually running monthly, weekly or daily
- They comprise many steps (30 or more) that must be repeated manually each time the process is executed
- They produce outputs that are important or critical for running the business
- They have been running for years, had multiple owners and no-one is 100 per cent sure of how every step in the process should be done.
Processes like these take place every day, week, month or quarter in every organisation. We find them in finance departments, sales teams, operations environments and elsewhere; they are the information pumps that add value to the modern business.
When an organisation decides to modernise one of these processes, with the goal of making it faster, more efficient, more transparent, less risky and more flexible, that’s where Solvexia steps in – and that’s when some familiar scenarios arise.
So, with this type of everyday business process in mind, here are the top 10 problems we see occur in real world projects…