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Business vs. System Exceptions in Automated Processes: Striving for Low Exception Rates


Automation has become a staple of modern business operations, streamlining processes and enhancing efficiency. However, exceptions can create disruptions in these automated workflows, leading to delays and additional costs. Understanding the differences between business and system exceptions is crucial for optimising your automation strategy and maximizing the return on investment.

In this blog, we'll explore these differences, discuss the importance of a low exception rate, and offer insights into maintaining efficient automation workflows.

Business Exceptions vs. System Exceptions

Business Exceptions

Business exceptions occur when an automated process encounters a situation that does not align with the predefined rules or conditions. These exceptions are typically caused by data inconsistencies, incomplete information, or incorrect data entry. Some examples of business exceptions include:

  • Missing or incomplete data in a form, such as an address or phone number.

  • A customer order that exceeds the available inventory.

  • An invoice with an incorrect billing address.

These exceptions often require human intervention to resolve the issue and move the process forward. Addressing business exceptions can involve correcting the data, updating the rules or conditions, or seeking additional information.

System Exceptions

System exceptions arise from technical issues or failures within the automation platform or integrated systems. These exceptions are unrelated to the data or business rules and are often the result of software bugs, hardware malfunctions, or network connectivity problems. Examples of system exceptions include:

  • A server outage preventing the execution of an automated process.

  • A bug in the automation software causing the process to halt.

  • API failures or connectivity issues with external systems.

System exceptions often require IT support or software updates to resolve the underlying issue and resume the automated process.

The Importance of a Low Exception Rate

Maintaining a low exception rate is essential for efficient automation workflows and maximizing the return on investment. A high exception rate can lead to the following consequences:

  1. Increased Costs: Exceptions can increase labour costs, as employees must spend time resolving issues and manually completing tasks that the automated process should have handled.

  2. Reduced Efficiency: Exception handling can slow down the entire process, negating the benefits of automation and delaying the completion of tasks.

  3. Lower ROI: With more resources devoted to handling exceptions, the initial investment in automation technology may not yield the desired cost savings and productivity improvements.

Best Practices for Reducing Exception Rates

  1. Data Validation: Implement data validation rules to ensure that the input data is accurate, complete, and consistent. This can help prevent business exceptions related to missing or incorrect data.

  2. Robust Error Handling: Design automated workflows with proper error handling mechanisms to gracefully handle system exceptions and minimize their impact on the overall process.

  3. Continuous Improvement: Regularly review and analyse exception data to identify patterns and trends, allowing for targeted improvements to the automation rules, processes, and infrastructure.

  4. Employee Training: Provide training to employees on data entry best practices and the importance of accurate information to reduce the occurrence of business exceptions.


Understanding the differences between business and system exceptions is critical for developing efficient automation workflows and maximizing return on investment. By striving for a low exception rate and implementing best practices, businesses can minimise disruptions and maintain smooth, automated processes that ultimately save time and resources.

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