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The Top 5 Automation Mistakes Companies Make

Blog: ProcessMaker Blog

Automation has become an essential aspect of modern business. But many automation greenhorns who see it as a “just-push-go” technology miss out on its unrivaled advantages. 

Automated technologies are not unlike the “set it and forget it” rotisserie oven. The infamous tagline convinced many shoppers they could just toss in a salmon filet or full chicken, push a button, and surprise their families with a dish worthy of a Michelin star. But many purchasers were shocked it didn’t live up to the automatic, do-nothing promise: turns out, they still needed to know a thing or two about cooking.

Implementing automation is not always straightforward, and many companies make mistakes that can undermine their automation efforts. Instead of going in blindly yet full-boar, be the one who knows a thing or two about automation to avoid its common pitfalls. 

1. Automating the Wrong Processes

One of the most common automation mistakes companies make is automating the wrong processes. There’s no limit to automation’s dazzling applications. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a brilliant idea—only to be distracted by the next Product Hunt feature. 

So what types of processes might not be the best candidates for automation? 

Just because a task can be automated, doesn’t mean it’s one that makes sense for you. Balancing utmost efficiency against the mission, strategy, and ethos of your organization is key. 

2. Failing to Consider the Human Element

Another common automation mistake is failing to consider the human element. Some commentators see automation as a brute force elimination for human involvement. But this is not always the case. 

For instance, avoid fully automating your core offering. Automation should help flatten the speed bumps that disrupt customer journeys, not become the very destination. 

Even AI darlings like Spotify or the clothing subscription box fashionistas at StitchFix frequently tout the inimitable contributions of human experts. AI often makes a rough draft recommendation, but humans often double-check and frequently bolster its output. 

Additionally, even AI tools need human-administered guardrails. In many experiments, researchers have found that AI jury-rigs the scoring system vs. finding a more innovative way to win a strategy game. 

Team members are true embodiments of what your organization stands for—acing what helps you stand out from other companies who might use the same software, applications, and templates as you. Humans, mixed with a rich recipe of the right AI, can unearth new revenue streams and customer connections they’d never find alone. 

3. Ignoring Data Quality

Automation relies heavily on data, and companies that ignore data quality do so at their peril. Poor data quality can lead to errors, delays, and even worse outcomes, undermining the benefits of automation. Automation’s most common data mistakes include: 

Feed your automation ecosystem with clean, reliable data for consistent, breakthrough results. 

4. Underestimating the Complexity of Automation

Automation can be complex, and many companies underestimate the level of effort and resources required to implement automation successfully. Harvard Business Review quotes one pharmaceutical executive who racked up years of involvement in complex project roadmaps. “I’ve never actually seen one produce a result,” he lamented.

The reason? Many organization-wide initiatives are born in a boardroom or within a small team of managers. But projects are often more complex than stakeholders predict. 

Automation requires a deep understanding of how your business runs. That includes an intimate insight into how information flows between team members and departments. Few automation strategies can survive in a silo. Workflows include tasks performed by disparate teams and individuals—some of whom do not have a collaborative relationship. Techniques like process orchestration can help you ‘bring it all together’ to eliminate the blindspots generated by ineffective automation planning. 

5. Failing to Monitor and Improve Automation

Finally, companies often make the mistake of failing to monitor and improve their automation efforts. Automation isn’t a “set-it-and-forget-it” strategy. 

Many of your favorite management theories, like Six Sigma or Taylorism, were born in the engineering realm. In these ways of thinking, there is no endgame. Bring in new roles, alter a task sequence, initiate a new workflow, or abandon a redundant one entirely. Processes are continually tweaked, prodded, and modified to test even better pathways to success. To foster a mindset of continuous improvement, make sure your automation strategy: 

Leave no stone unturned! By fostering a spirit of scrutiny, you can unlock new efficiencies for your team. 

Too many companies fall victim to the siren song of automation and rush the island with little forethought. After all, the technology comes with irresistible promises like improved efficiencies and drastic cost reduction—and when wielded effectively—it delivers. By following this guide, you can avoid the most common automation pitfalls and be one of the most acclaimed organizations clinching its benefits. 


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