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5 Reasons Why Change Requests Are So Challenging and Expensive in Automation

3 min read
Jun 17, 2024 9:00:00 AM

Automation programs are quickly realizing that their practice isn’t saving them as much as they think through productivity and efficiency gains. One of the reasons automation initiatives leave money on the table is the expensive nature and long processing times for change requests.

Like any piece of technology, bots are not immune to change. Yet managing automation change requests can be very challenging due to various factors. This article explores the key challenges with automation change requests to help RPA (Robotic Process Automation) leaders avoid them and maximize the returns from their practice.

Why Automation Change Requests Are So Challenging

#1 - Automations are Complex

Automations are designed to execute business tasks and processes by mimicking human employees. As such, they possess complex workflows with several steps and decision points. A change anywhere along that workflow creates a ripple effect. Bots also interact with different systems, databases, and applications. Automated processes must additionally navigate various business rules.

When a change arises and needs to be addressed, the full scope of the bot and what it does needs to be understood. Without documentation, which is typically the case, developers must investigate the bot’s code, which takes a lot of time and is arduous and laboursome. In fact, one client informed us that, on average, their developers spend 30% of their time just trying to figure out what an automation does when situations like change requests or errors arise, which, unfortunately, happens quite a lot.

#2 - Assessing the Impact of a Change Can Be a Slow Process

Before implementing and deploying a change request, it’s imperative that the impact of that change on the bot and its environment be assessed. The last you want is for an implemented change to cause another outage or a larger error in the automation environment you’re working with.

Some challenges to watch out for while assessing the impact of a change can include:

  • Identifying risks – Uncovering all the potential risks and detrimental impacts of a change to a bot can be difficult, especially if you’re dealing with a complex automation environment.

  • Testing requirements – Unit testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing should be performed to ensure the bot works as it should and doesn’t introduce any new errors. This step can create more bottlenecks and delays redeployment into production even more, even though it’s necessary.

  • Regulatory Compliance – Compliance must also be ensured regardless of whether you operate in a heavily regulated industry. In many cases, automated processes handle personal information. Therefore, compliance checks around change requests are paramount for all automation programs.

#3 - Stakeholder Expectations

Change requests typically come from various stakeholders, from business users to IT team members, external managers, or consultants. Managing these stakeholder’s expectations can be challenging because they might have conflicting priorities or objectives, making it difficult to agree on the scope and urgency of the changes in a way that will appease everyone.

Clear and consistent communication is also needed (yet a hard skill to find and get right) to ensure that all stakeholders understand the reasons for the changes, the expected outcomes, and the impact the changes will have on current operations.

Changes also demand approvals across various stakeholders. Reviews and approvals have traditionally been time-consuming, creating even more dependencies and snags on the path to redeployment.

#4 - Limited Resources

Another element that complicates change requests are the significant resources like highly skilled personnel, time, and a large enough budget to support them.

Normally, organizations are so focused on scaling their automation practice that they have limited resources to dedicate to support and change requests. Automation is also a highly specialized area, so staffing is another impediment.

Tight deadlines and time-sensitive issues are another pain point that can cause further complications that force teams to rush changes, increasing the risk of errors and further outages.

#5 – Bot Stability and Performance

Any implemented change can have an adverse impact on a bot’s resilience and performance. For example, changes can cause the bot to run slower or create new issues.

If the updated automation isn’t tested appropriately, changes lead to more failures, further disrupting business operations and continuity, creating the need for more investigations and intervention.


Managing automation change requests is a multifaceted challenge that can significantly impact automation initiatives' overall efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The complexity of automations, the time-consuming nature of impact assessments, the necessity to manage stakeholder expectations, the constraints posed by limited resources, and the potential effects on bot stability and performance are all critical factors that must be addressed.

By recognizing and proactively managing these challenges, automation leaders can enhance their change management processes, ensuring that automation continues to deliver maximum value.

Effective change management preserves the integrity of the automated processes and drives continuous improvement, helping organizations stay competitive in an ever-evolving automation landscape.