What has caused a process automation project to fail? Looking for technical reasons, rather than project management.

I think the real problem is still far ahead…

Many projects are selected by the top management, often the most important criterion is how easily THEY can see all sorts of dashboards.

The fact that the system makes work on the work floor more difficult and slower is often not conceived.I know departments where the managers are clicking at least half an hour every day to get travel expenses, material requests, holiday days, sick notifications, hours worked, etc. Approve. It is often so much work that they do not have time to give the real important things an equal attention. No they just click everything that comes in so it can be processed further. Only real outliers fall on and get a second look.

The same applies to employees.Everything goes through the system. That is good in itself, but then the login, finding the right input screen, entering the data, storing, confirming and waiting for approval must be better organized. Sometimes the same masks are used everywhere. That makes the way of filling up nicely consistently (little training). Unfortunately, this mask is not really well thought out for any type of input screen, which unfortunately does not work smoothly.

Update 30-June

Because the focus is on monitoring and cost control and not on how we make it as simple as possible and really value added for the employees, there is often a lot of resistance.The employees are often asked nothing and copied existing workflow instead of first looking at which workflow makes sense.

Many systems are deployed in a launch (waterfall) instead in conjunction with the employees Step by step (Agile).

To make a process automation project succeed, there is a clear prerequisite:

  • The basic process is stripped of every exception, and the exceptions that are present can be automated relatively easily via an “exception route”.

After this, there is a second condition:

  • The software must connect to both the basic process and the exception route.

Certainly in the past, systems were not flexible enough to meet the second condition, or only at very high cost.
If the basic process is not optimised, the automation becomes a large bucket of spaghetti.

Today, the first problem is still present: We try to automate sub-optimal processes, which can be hugely complex.
In addition, due to the increased flexibility in the software, there is also a towering expectation that automation can solve “everything”.

This allows you to see for example that not only the 100 manual operations need to be automated, but also the 100,000 actions that are not done now because it is not efficient. The solution devised for 100 operations works fine, but does not scale to 100,000 changes/transactions.The lead time is too long.

For more than 25 years I have been involved in process automation issues from various perspectives, and the challenge is almost always in a combination of the complexity of the process, resistance of people (my job expires), towering Expectations which are not pronounced and IT suppliers underestimate the issue.
This is not a project management issue, this is rather a strategic issue: Why do you want to automate the process, what are you talking about, and is it possible against those costs and risks?

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