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Document automation has become more popular over the last few years because of the obvious benefits.

On the surface, it seems like home-grown document automation would be the right choice for many organizations with technical know-how.

It may be for some. For the vast majority of people, home-grown document automation would provide benefits that would be offset by the pitfalls.

In this guide, we’ll look at some of the pitfalls of developing a document automation solution in-house so you’re well-informed before you make the leap.

Lack of Scalability

Inability to Accommodate Growing Business Needs and Volumes:

One of the primary challenges with in-house document automation solutions is their limited ability to accommodate the growing needs and volumes of a business over time.

Initially, a solution may meet your requirements.

However, as the business expands, the demands for document automation also increase.

In-house solutions may lack the flexibility to seamlessly scale up to handle larger volumes of documents or to support new business processes.

This inability to scale can lead to inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and ultimately hinder your ability to keep up with its growing document management needs.

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Challenges in Scaling Across Departments or Branches:

Another significant issue arises when attempting to scale the in-house document automation solution across multiple departments or branches.

Each department or branch may have its unique requirements, workflows, and systems.

Adapting the in-house solution to meet these diverse needs can be challenging and time-consuming. In some cases, it may require significant customization or redevelopment efforts, which can be costly and may introduce additional complexities.

As a result, you may struggle to achieve consistency and standardization across different areas, leading to fragmentation and inefficiencies in document management processes.

Impact on Organizational Agility and Flexibility:

The lack of scalability of in-house document automation solutions can have a profound impact on your overall agility and flexibility.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, you need to be able to adapt to changing market conditions, customer demands, and regulatory requirements.

However, rigid and inflexible document automation solutions can impede this agility.

They may hinder your ability to innovate, respond to new opportunities, or pivot operations as needed.

Moreover, the time and resources required to address scalability issues with in-house solutions can divert attention away from other strategic initiatives, further limiting the organization’s ability to stay competitive and agile in the marketplace.

Maintenance and Support Burden

Ongoing Maintenance and Updates Falls on Internal IT Teams:

Unlike commercial off-the-shelf solutions, where vendors handle maintenance, security, and various updates, in-house solutions require internal IT teams to take on this responsibility.

This includes tasks such as monitoring system performance, troubleshooting issues, applying patches and updates, and ensuring compatibility with other systems and software within the organization.

The IT team must dedicate time and resources to keep the solution running smoothly, which can strain their capacity and detract from other strategic initiatives.

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Potential for Resource Constraints and Competing Priorities:

The maintenance and support burden of in-house document automation solutions can exacerbate resource constraints within the IT department.

IT teams often have limited bandwidth and must juggle multiple projects and priorities simultaneously. The ongoing maintenance of the document automation solution competes for resources with other critical IT tasks, such as cybersecurity, software development, and infrastructure maintenance.

There’s a risk of resource constraints and bottlenecks, which can lead to delays in addressing issues, implementing updates, or providing support to end-users.

This can ultimately impact the efficiency and effectiveness of the document automation solution and hinder overall business operations.

Risk of System Downtime and Disruptions Operations:

Another significant concern associated with the maintenance and support burden of in-house document automation solutions is the risk of system downtime and disruptions to business operations.

If the internal IT team fails to adequately maintain and support the solution, it may be susceptible to technical issues, bugs, and vulnerabilities that could lead to system downtime.

Even routine maintenance activities, such as applying updates or performing system upgrades, can potentially disrupt business operations if not carefully planned and executed.

System downtime can have serious consequences, including lost productivity, revenue losses, damage to customer relationships, and reputational harm to your organization.

Limited Functionality and Features

Narrow Scope of Functionality Compared to Commercial Solutions:

One of the primary drawbacks of in-house document automation solutions is their limited scope of functionality compared to commercial off-the-shelf solutions.

While in-house solutions may be customized to meet specific business requirements, they often lack the comprehensive features and capabilities offered by commercial solutions.

Commercial solutions are developed and refined based on industry best practices and feedback from a wide range of users, resulting in a robust set of features that address various document management needs.

In contrast, in-house solutions may be developed with a narrow focus on immediate needs, overlooking potential functionalities that could enhance efficiency, productivity, and user experience.

Because of this narrower focus, you may soon hit a roadblock when you need more power. At the same time, since it’s a home-grown solution without broader commercial implications, you often don’t have the resources to keep adding more features to meet different use cases.

Lack of Advanced Features:

Another significant limitation of in-house document automation solutions is the lack of advanced features, such as AI-driven document processing or seamless integration capabilities with other systems and software.

Commercial solutions leverage cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to automate repetitive tasks, extract valuable insights from documents, and improve accuracy and efficiency.

They also offer out-of-the-box integrations with popular business applications, such as CRM and ERP systems, enabling seamless data exchange and workflow automation.

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In contrast, developing and maintaining such advanced features in-house requires substantial expertise, resources, and ongoing investment, which may not be feasible for many organizations.

Difficulty in Keeping Pace with Industry Advancements and Customer Expectations:

The document management landscape is constantly evolving, with new technologies, trends, and regulatory requirements emerging regularly.

Commercial solution providers invest heavily in research and development to stay ahead of these changes and continuously enhance their products to meet the evolving needs of their customers.

In contrast, internal IT teams may struggle to dedicate sufficient resources and expertise to keep the in-house solution up-to-date with the latest advancements.

This can result in outdated or obsolete features, compatibility issues with new technologies, and ultimately, dissatisfaction among users who expect modern and innovative document automation capabilities.

Compliance and Security Risks

Potential for Gaps in Compliance with Regulatory Requirements:

One of the foremost concerns associated with in-house document automation solutions is the potential for gaps in compliance with regulatory requirements.

Various industries are subject to stringent regulations governing the handling, storage, and transmission of sensitive information, such as personal data, financial records, and healthcare information.

In-house solutions may lack built-in compliance features and fail to adhere to industry-specific regulations, leaving you vulnerable to non-compliance penalties, fines, and legal repercussions. Without comprehensive compliance measures, organizations risk tarnishing their reputation, losing customer trust, and facing severe financial consequences.

Data Security Vulnerabilities:

In-house document automation solutions often suffer from data security vulnerabilities due to the lack of robust encryption and access controls.

Protecting sensitive information from unauthorized access, data breaches, and cyber threats is paramount for organizations of all sizes.

However, in-house solutions may not implement industry-standard security protocols or encryption algorithms, leaving data vulnerable to interception or exploitation.

Additionally, inadequate access controls may result in unauthorized users gaining access to confidential documents, compromising data integrity and confidentiality.

These security vulnerabilities expose organizations to significant risks, including data breaches, financial losses, and reputational damage.

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Exposure to Legal and Financial Risks from Security Breaches or Data Leaks:

Another critical concern related to in-house document automation solutions is the exposure to legal and financial risks resulting from security breaches or data leaks.

In the event of a security incident, you may face costly litigation, regulatory fines, and penalties, as well as potential lawsuits from affected parties.

Moreover, data breaches can disrupt business operations, damage customer relationships, and erode trust in your ability to safeguard sensitive information.

The financial and reputational repercussions of a security breach can be devastating, potentially leading to long-term consequences for the organization’s viability and competitiveness in the marketplace.

Cost Overruns and Budget Constraints

Underestimation of Development and Implementation Costs:

One of the primary challenges associated with in-house document automation solutions is the underestimation of development and implementation costs.

You may initially embark on the development of an in-house solution with the assumption that it will be more cost-effective than purchasing a commercial off-the-shelf solution.

However, the reality is that the development process often incurs unforeseen expenses, such as hiring specialized developers, acquiring necessary tools and technologies, and conducting extensive testing and quality assurance activities.

Moreover, delays in the development timeline can further escalate costs, as resources are diverted to address unexpected challenges or technical issues.

As a result, you may find yourself exceeding your budgetary allocations and facing cost overruns that strain financial resources and disrupt project timelines.

Ongoing Maintenance and Support:

In addition to development and implementation costs, in-house document automation solutions incur hidden expenses associated with ongoing maintenance and support.

Unlike commercial off-the-shelf solutions, which typically include maintenance and support services as part of the subscription or licensing fees, in-house solutions require internal IT teams to assume responsibility for these activities.

This includes tasks such as troubleshooting issues, applying patches and updates, and providing technical support to end-users.

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The costs associated with maintaining and supporting the solution may not be readily apparent at the outset but can accumulate over time, particularly as the solution matures and requires more extensive maintenance efforts.

These hidden expenses can strain IT budgets and divert resources away from other strategic initiatives, impacting overall performance and competitiveness.

Impact on IT Budget and Priorities:

Budgets are finite, and IT departments must balance competing priorities and allocate resources strategically to meet the organization’s needs.

The costs associated with in-house development, implementation, and maintenance of a document automation solution can consume a substantial portion of the IT budget, leaving fewer resources available for other critical initiatives, such as infrastructure upgrades, cybersecurity enhancements, or digital transformation projects.

Moreover, the ongoing resource commitments required to support the in-house solution may limit IT’s ability to respond effectively to changing business requirements or emerging technology trends, hindering your agility and flexibility in the long run.

Time-to-Market Delays

Longer Development Cycles Compared to Off-the-Shelf Solutions:

Developing a custom solution from scratch requires extensive planning, design, development, and testing phases, which can significantly lengthen the time it takes to bring the solution to market.

Unlike off-the-shelf solutions, which are already developed and ready for deployment, in-house solutions must undergo iterative development and refinement processes to meet the organization’s specific requirements.

Moreover, internal IT teams may encounter technical challenges, resource constraints, or scope changes during the development process, further delaying the delivery of the solution.

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Delayed Implementation and Deployment Timelines:

In addition to longer development cycles, in-house document automation solutions often experience delayed implementation and deployment timelines.

Even after the development phase is completed, you must allocate additional time for testing, training, and user acceptance before deploying the solution into production.

Moreover, integrating the in-house solution with existing systems and workflows may require additional time and effort, particularly if compatibility issues arise or customizations are needed.

Delays in implementation and deployment can impact business operations, prolong manual document processes, and hinder the organization’s ability to realize the anticipated benefits of automation in a timely manner.

Missed Opportunities and Competitive Disadvantages:

The time-to-market delays associated with in-house document automation solutions can result in missed opportunities and competitive disadvantages for organizations.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, you have to be agile and responsive to market demands, customer needs, and competitive pressures.

Delayed implementation of document automation solutions can put you at a competitive disadvantage, as competitors who adopt off-the-shelf solutions may gain a first-mover advantage, improve operational efficiencies, and capture market share more quickly.

Moreover, prolonged reliance on manual document processes can inhibit innovation, hinder growth, and limit the organization’s ability to adapt to changing market dynamics, ultimately impacting its long-term competitiveness and viability.


Sometimes, home-grown solutions are not the right answer because they’re difficult to build, maintain, and deploy, amongst other things.

Commercial solutions have many advantages that can help you move beyond the competition and implement cutting-edge technology faster.

This guide has only focused on some of the pitfalls associated with building a solution in-house. Take your time to review whether or not you’ll be impacted by these issues.

If the answer is yes, consider a tool like DoxFlowy for your document automation needs.

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