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Robotic Process Automation in Project Management

What is Robotic Process Automation in Project Management?

In the latest of his "Future focus in PPM" series Project Management advisor and lecturer, John McGrath looks at the potential impact of Robotic Process Automation in Project Management.

If we were to look to the future in terms of where project management is going or changes we’re going to see, I think you would have to look at the whole area of robotic process automation and how that’s going to impact change/project management. As a community of professionals, I think project managers are very much aware of the transformation that has happened in the last 10 years, and it’s very easy to document those; The explosion of agile, the growth of enterprise PPM systems, the emphasis on project controls and the long-overdue recognition and realization at the C-level that if you value fostering innovation, driving change, and supporting continuous improvement, you need to value your project management capability.

If we think about that, continuous improvement, change management, and innovation are really the three pillars of strategy execution in a future-focused organization. I think that the project management community completely underestimates the level of disruption that will happen in the next 10 years. How we manage projects is going to exponentially change when technologies such as robotic process automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive computing converge in the use and development of enterprise project portfolio management systems.

Now, these technologies may become a subset of project controls, but either way, project managers are going to have to evolve and continuously develop their technical skills to understand and harness these technologies. In the last 10 years, we’ve heard about the importance of the soft skills of project management, most notably emotional intelligence, that will still be relevant, but there will also be a need for project managers who have strong technical skills.

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

Robotics Process Automation, which we commonly refer to as RPA, is the replication of human actions to perform a sequence of steps that lead to some sort of useful activity and the key being without any human intervention. We can already see RPA well established in customer service, Accounting, financial services, healthcare, human resources, and supply chain; the list goes on. Just as we have seen digital transformation work its way through different industries and sectors we’re going to see the same happen with RPA.

Robotic Process Automation in Project Management

In the project management space, I think we’re going to see the likes of daily workflows, the mundane updating of tasks, the circulation of reports, all replaced by RPA. The good news is that we will be spending less time on planning and more time and execution. Project data will no longer be static; we will be reporting in real-time across thousands of projects in several countries and fundamentally getting better data to make better strategic decisions.

So, looking to the future in project management Robotic Process Automation should be part of your competency development and capability development within your organization.