Challenges of Business Process Automation and How To Overcome Them

As the old saying goes, 'Nothing worth having comes easy.' Achieving greatness in life and business requires preparation, resilience in the face of challenges, and a readiness for both ups and downs. Most importantly, we must remember to celebrate our wins along the way.

The same goes for business process automation and optimization projects. A couple of months ago I sat in a room of IT and business leaders who were at an event to learn about accelerating their process automation journeys, some were advanced on their journey but the majority had a long way to go.

The group was very impressed by the process automation case studies shared on the day, which showcased hours saved, fines avoided, culture improvements, competitive advantage etc. I had a few people come up to me after the session with challenges they foresaw with process automation. It's with this in mind that I write this blog today listing the common process automation challenges and how to overcome them.

Challenge #1: Automating for the sake of automating

A common challenge I see is that some businesses seek to automate business processes because they have been told to do so to by a board/consultants etc.

I personally believe that organizations shouldn’t just automate for the sake of automating, they should automate for business outcomes, I think it was Rob Koplowitz who first mentioned this on a webinar with us a few years back (thanks Rob)…. And it is advice that I have been giving to our community ever since.

We all want outcomes, ROI, quick wins and success stories from automation, so my tip would be to set goals when automating any process, you can then measure the improvements within the performance reporting area of your DPA tool.

eBook: 6 Steps to Digital Process Automation   Download the eBook to read the rest and discover the 6 Steps to Process Automation ��  

Challenge #2: Building a business case

I regularly chat to people who want to undertake process automation, but with the number of stakeholders to impress with a business case, it can be a time consuming and challenging task and obviously a risk for the person who wants to take on the solution... but please don't let this get in the way.

Gartner Insights

The Gartner 2024 Global Software Buying Trends states that on average, the software evaluation process takes approximately 5 months, with a majority taking between 1 month to 6 months.

Gartner Report

This Gartner report also states that the average buyer shortlist includes 4 providers and when searching for new software, the most important factors buyers look for are pricing and security.


Gartner Report 2024


Learn more about the future business process automation trends here.

Building the business case

So how can you effectively build your business case for successful process automation, here's some recommended steps to follow, which lots of vendors can support you on:

  1. Define the problem: Think about the department/team you want to see success from, what are the complicated/time-consuming/time zapping repetitive tasks that are valuable to the business and list a few of those processes

  2. Define the cost of the problem: Undertake an estimation of how much time is wasted or lost on these existing processes due to delays, errors, inefficiencies, lost paperwork/emails etc. and then calculate how much that costs the business

  3. Research: Research automation tools using our handy checklist below

  4. Undertake a cost analysis: calculate the costs involved, estimate the cost savings benefits and determine your Return on Investment

  5. Plan: Pull together a view of project stakeholders and a roadmap to success

  6. Present: Present the plan to stakeholders

Business Process Automation Buyers GuideChallenge #3: Finding the ideal business process automation tool

Selecting a DPA tool can be difficult, there are many choices, for example on Gartner Peer Insights, you’ll find 96 providers of process automation tools, while G2 lists 116 process management tools and 92 under Digital Process Automation.

From regularly supporting business improvement, transformation, and innovation leaders, FlowForma understands that there are certain considerations to bear in mind when selecting a new process digitalization tool.


To support you on this journey, here are some recommendations:

  • List your objectives and desired outcomes

  • Use a checklist, this will help you to identify your ideal Digital Process Automation tool

  • Test your shortlist of tools with a Trial or a Proof of Concept

  • Utilize G2, a trustworthy source that helps business professionals make better decisions

Tool Checklist

Business Process Automation Tool Checklist

Challenge #4: IT skills shortage & automating business processes

Top 5 Business Process Automation Tools-1Another business process automation challenge is the global IT shortage of course. According to IDC, the IT skills shortage is expected to impact nine out of ten organizations by 2026 with a cost of $5.5 Trillion in Delays, Quality Issues and Revenue Loss.

The report illustrates that 'a variety of cloud skills, including architecture, data management and storage, and software development, are among the ten most needed skills identified by survey respondents'.

A way to overcome this business process automation challenge is by using an intuitive digital process automation tool that can be used by use by either IT or business for digitalizing processes at speed.

LSTM Overcome Business Process Challenges

Challenge #5: Change management

Change management is a common challenge that organizations have, there is always this worry when rolling out any new practice or software.

For example, over the years I've had construction companies worry about how staff who don't use computers daily would adopt Digital Process Automation, Financial services firms saying that some employees who were managing a specific process had been doing it one way for 20 years to mining companies who may have staff only using a laptop once a week. These are all common challenges across many verticals. But don't worry.... these change management worries can be addressed head out with some planning.

For example, our customers in mining, oil and gas and construction have tackled the change management issue with dispersed staff and those who don't regularly use laptops with a QR code solution, for example, one of our construction customers has QR codes on diggers, so that their staff or contractors can seamlessly access processes online via their mobile phones and quickly complete steps in their processes.

Quick wins are a great way to increase adoption, I can't say it any better than how William has described this below.


Challenge #6: Choosing the right business processes to automate

A common challenge of process automation initiatives is selecting the right processes to focus on. Each organization is different and so is its approach to automation, those who are onboarding a new tool will choose one of the following strategies:

  • a big bang approach whereby they automate 50+ processes and go live with a big batch of automated workflows on one day

  • a slow and steady approach whereby they will automate a handful of processes per month

  • a focus on high-value processes

  • a focus on automating complex processes

  • an immediate focus on digitalizing simple repetitive tasks that can be rolled out quickly

Processes for Big Impact

There is no wrong or right answer here, but we'd recommend you think about prioritizing the processes that would free up resources to focus on more strategic initiatives and aid the overall efficiency and effectiveness of your company.

Think about processes that are costly in terms of the number of hours and perhaps the number of employees it takes to execute. Are there processes that need to be completed to ensure you adhere to legislation? The opportunities are endless but consider which challenges to tackle first that will make a significant impact. Here are some of the business process automation use cases. 

Business Process Automation - Processes

Challenge #7: Vendor Dependence

A challenge that can be faced with process automation is an over-dependence on a vendor or partner. I have heard of companies who use process automation tools that have very high complexity and are not intuitive enough for businesspeople to digitalize with, which means that they need to outsource a lot of their digitalization projects to the vendor or a partner, this can be a challenge regarding additional costs incurred and delays in waiting for the projects to be completed as they are relying on external resources. Another challenge with vendor or partner dependence is the lack of agility.

Customer Feedback

Dresser Oil and Gas BlogOne customer told me that FlowForma Process Automation as an intuitive no-code tool, made their organization very agile, for example when Covid-19 hit and there needed to be changes in their automated workflows, the process owners could quickly make the changes themselves.

Before implementing FlowForma, Imelda Bettinger commented that "the old processes took years to build and if our team needed a change, a request would be made and it would take a month before it was decided if it could actually be implemented".

Challenge #8: Employee Training and Skill Gaps

Companies may foresee process automation challenges regarding employee training and skills gaps with process automation solutions is employee training, I guess this is the same for onboarding any solution, but it shouldn't hold you back. From regularly chatting to companies about their onboarding journey with automation, it's clear that there is a huge appetite in businesses for process owners to want to digitalize their processes, and they want to digitalize these processes either on their own with a tool trusted by IT or in a fusion team with IT.

Customer Satisfaction

Our best customer success stories are those where a company will work with us on an employee training program where we run beginner and advanced training sessions for different personas. One customer of ours had 12 people trained on week one of onboarding our product and then within a year that group had automated over 120 processes, impressive work.

Forrester has compiled many great case studies on how companies have reaped the benefits of citizen development for automation initiatives and those that have done it best, have gone after citizen development energy, once you find the people in your company who have the appetite and energy to drive outcomes from digitalization, you are on the ideal path.


As with anything, process automation comes with its positives, negatives, and concerns. I hope the information provided helps you navigate and overcome the automation challenges you may foresee or encounter during implementation. Interested in kickstarting your digital transformation journey? Request your 1-2-1 personalized demonstration from one of our business processes automation experts today and overcome your process challenges. 

Book a demo

Niamh Lordan, Head Of Marketing

Niamh is Head of Marketing at FlowForma. She is passionate about supporting FlowForma on its vision to become the easiest to adopt no code process automation tool on the market. Working in technology marketing for over ten years Niamh is committed to driving FlowForma’s marketing strategy and empowering its community with innovative features thought leadership content and resources to transform business processes.

Niamh Lordan, Head Of Marketing

Recent posts by Niamh lordan

Business Process Automation

Challenges of Business Process Automation and How To Overcome Them

As the old saying goes, 'Nothing worth having comes easy.' Achieving greatness in ...

Process Automation

10 Business Process Automation Statistics in 2024

Stats, stats and more stats…. We’ve all become obsessed about statistics, haven’t ...

Business Process Automation

Business Process Automation Trends in 2024

The process automation space is ever evolving which is probably why you’ve landed at ...