The top 5 automation pitfalls to avoid

Automation is a fantastic tool for businesses, with multiple advantages to its implementation in almost all departments of your company. But that doesn’t mean that everyone knows what it is, what it can do, or how it works.

In fact, there are several misconceptions about automation. So, we’ve outlined the top five mistakes people make when implementing automation software. If you’re thinking of integrating automation into your business process management system, consider these five common automation pitfalls to avoid.

1. Thinking that you can automate everything

Automation software is great at repetitive, routine, and resource-draining tasks. It excels at supporting your team with admin and data management. It can even be used to break down complex processes into workflows, making them easier to complete and manage.

But automation cannot — and should not — do everything. Trying to automate everything can not only be costly but can add unnecessary complications to boot. Resources get wasted on unneeded processes, and you can even alienate customers. As a general rule of thumb: if a task needs a human touch, leave it to a human. If it’s robotic, leave it to software bots.

So, trying to automate everything is the first of the automation pitfalls. Falling foul of this first (and fundamental) problem leads to a confused mess of processes as well as unsatisfied customers.

2. Forgetting about it

Business process automation runs in the background. This means it’s very easy (and trust us, it’s been done) to forget that you have an active automation program running some of your processes. But forgetting your automation software can cause future issues, making it the second of our automation pitfalls.

Automation will run forever unless you tell it to stop or your system breaks. But processes can change, be it due to new laws, new technology, or an increased volume of customers. This means that forgetting about your automation software results in outdated processes being automated.

At best, this is a waste of your time and resources. You end up forced to work around the automation, instead of with it. At worst, this can result in legal violations, for example with privacy law or data processing changes. So, be sure to tweak, test and continually fine-tune your automated processes.

3. Replacing humans

Using automation to replace humans is one of the biggest automation pitfalls. It fuels automation anxiety in your office, meaning that the remaining human team members worry about being replaced by technology. This hurts office morale and can see valued employees jumping ship.

And again, automation can’t do everything a human can do anyway. Automation isn’t capable of out-of-the-box thinking, problem-solving or analysis – you need the human members of your team for that.

It’s imperative that you find the right balance between automation and human intelligence within your business. Automation is shy; it’s great for boring, repetitive tasks behind the scenes, but not so much when it comes to the frontlines. So, leave representing your business — be that to customers, partners or other employees — to human team members.

4. Thinking it’s an out-of-the-box product

There’s a misconception that automation software works much like a software product – you install it and press go. Unfortunately, with business process automation, you can’t just take it out of the box and turn it on.

Automation software is often better described as a platform. It’s an engine; not a car. Visual Studio; not a website. In other words, it is a tool that you leverage to create your own automated workflows and actions.

It takes time and effort to implement, and time and effort to adapt when changes come along. Business process automation software provides you with the functionality needed to automate the things that will help your business, but you still need to tell it what to do.

5. Getting automation confused with AI

The last in our list of automation pitfalls is no less important than the others: confusing automation with artificial intelligence.

Business process automation is not AI. It’s not a ‘smart’ product. Automation does exactly what you tell it to do, in the way you ask it to do it. This means that it doesn’t learn or adapt by itself. You must instruct it. If you tell it to do something incorrectly, it will complete the task incorrectly.

For this reason, it’s important to review the process your automation is completing. Make sure that there are no errors when setting up your automation solution, or you could make a long-standing and costly mistake.

Avoiding automation pitfalls 

Due to the increase in data and the globalisation of businesses, business process automation is no longer a luxury for modern businesses. It’s a necessity.

The misuse of automation can cause costly problems further down the line. But, now that you know the five most common automation pitfalls to avoid, you’re ready to reap the benefits of automation software.

Why not test out the benefits of automation yourself, with a free 30-day free trial of ThinkAutomation?