5 Challenges to Workflow Automation and How to Overcome Them

Person holding a stopwatch.

Workflow automation can produce a quick return on investment, and can pay off in other ways over the long term. Productivity goes up, efficiency goes up, and error rates go down.

Yet workflow automation can seem like a daunting process when done for the first time. The good news is that there is workflow software available today that allows for creation of automated workflows without the need for a technical or programming team. In fact, today’s software puts the power of workflow creation into the hands of the very people who need to use the workflows. Still, most organizations will face some forms of resistance to workflow automation. Here are five common challenges to workflow automation and how to overcome them.

1. End-User Resistance

When we’re responsible for a particular work process, we learn it – warts and all – and eventually get into a groove with it. The process may not make a lot of sense to an outsider, but we have a system and know what we’re doing. It’s easy to get possessive of our systems for doing things when someone proposes that they be “improved.”

One of the best ways to overcome end-user resistance to development of automated workflows is to involve at least some of those end-users in the workflow automation design process. Let them tell you where the pain points in the processes are, and where they become stuck using inefficient steps that could be revamped.

2. Management Resistance

Management wants to know that it will see ROI for the workflow software they invest in for workflow automation. Fortunately, making a business case for automation is easier than ever. Even if parts of processes must be completed individually, by hand, there are almost always parts of workflows that would be faster and more accurate with the aid of automation.

Management can often be swayed through the use of case studies of automated workflows, including information about how much time and money can be saved. Demonstrating that workflow automation doesn’t require a major IT infrastructure change or the hiring of a team of programmers can help overcome management resistance too.

3. Privacy and Security Concerns

This is almost a no-brainer. Manual workflows depend on physical security when data must be protected. Perhaps forms must be stored in locked filing cabinets, or work steps must be completed in locked facilities.

File cabinets against a wall.

Most security concerns are readily addressed by security steps that are easy to include in automated workflows.

Automation with the right workflow software makes it easy to build in security measures and other checks and balances, right from the start. For example, workflows can be designed so that only designated personnel can access certain steps or certain data. While automated workflows grant tremendous visibility into process status, that visibility can be limited to only certain people, if security demands it.

4. Previous Bad Experience with Tech Upgrades

Who hasn’t been through a bad experience with a technology upgrade? It can be all too easy to remember a time when new technology failed to deliver or was riddled with problems, and then conclude that the only way to avoid those problems is to avoid technology.

But most of us understand that technology upgrades make things better, for the most part. After all, we adopt new tech in our personal lives regularly, and most of us shudder to think back to the days of landline phones and answering machines. Because the power to create automated workflows can be put into the hands of the very people who will use them, miscommunications that derail tech projects are far easier to avoid nowadays.

5. Disposition of the Data Collected by Automated Processes

Automated workflows allow data collected through online forms to be dispatched in an almost infinite number of ways. When you show both end-users and management how this data can be used to learn more about customers, track productivity, and populate multiple forms when data is entered one time, you can overcome a lot of resistance. After all, you’re developing a valuable data source that can be mined for insight and used in any number of novel ways.

With PerfectForms, there is no programming required to create customized online forms and the workflows that make them as efficient and effective as possible. End-users can have major input into how workflows and forms are designed, and management will see a swift ROI that continues to deliver results. We invite you to take a minute to watch our demo video. See for yourself how the obstacles to workflow automation can be overcome with ease!

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