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Topics: Agile, Innovation, IT Project Management
How to leverage RPA (Robotic Process Automation) in PM?
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Robotic process automation is a buzz word in industry. Chabot's, automated processes leveraging artificial intelligence and their integration with traditional model starts to materialize. Can this be easily extended in project management?

I scratch my head and think if need to automate a PM process or process group, which one that will be?

So far I am well accustomed to testing processes automation and UML extensions to automated code generation and deployment activities. However, in IT segment they cover a part of SDLC/PLM management not PM as such !!
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The easiest part of project management to automate would be the monitoring and control phase. You could build "sensors" to continuously identify progress. Variations outside of a threshold value could automatically trigger actions - email, text, ...
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1 reply by Rajeev Sharma
Dec 06, 2017 10:51 AM
Rajeev Sharma
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Thanks for response.

Monitoring and control based on automated threshold, constraints or KPI can bring a value. Leveraging sensor in wicked projects could be a potential area for innovation.
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It would be nice to submit documents to a central source and have them automatically collated, filed, distributed etc. Yes there is a PMIS, but I am referring to a system that reduces the human push on information entry, and pull on sharing/distribution, instead knowing what to store, how/where to store it, and who it should be distributed to.
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1 reply by Rajeev Sharma
Dec 06, 2017 10:54 AM
Rajeev Sharma
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Thanks. Very true digitization of documents, object driven analytics and infographic representation to stakeholders could be a potential area of RPA.

Still a question would remain answered - how to quantify value add of such RPA for business cases and to convince stakeholder ?
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I think project manager managing people is more humanitarian than just dry calculations done by robotics which lack the human feelings and emotions, Interpersonal skills involve art and science. Yes you are right that more automation can be used in different processes even Primavera P6 can be more automated or to have a software which can do hundred of thousands of calculations on probabilities but we can not eliminate the human touch, after all even with AI (artificial Inelegance) the human brain is the one to design all machines and robotics.
I am using an oil processing machine equipped with a communication module any numbers out of the control chart it send me text or email that exactly same idea like Stephane mentioned in monitor & control, most Condition based maintenance has same ability to notify but then how much we need to complicate the project to have robotics to do audit,inspection, analysis and produce change request.
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RPA Projects could be extended or tagged under Project management. In general for any Process Improvement project, Automation Project, RPA - DMAIC(Define--Measure--Analyze--Improve--Control) methodology that what I have followed or used for preparing business case or Story board.

However as per the PMP standards - Initiating--Planning---Executing---Monitoring & controlling---Closing ( IPEMC ) used as methodology for preparing Business case or Story board.

Both are almost the same --- It's the matter of how we frame the things & how we want to show case.
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As you mentioned those are buzzwords but those are outside there from years ago. I am working with them and I have a master on AI because in some part of my work career I was fully dedicated to those topics. From years ago we are surrounded with AI algorithm and devices. Automation does not means to use AI. You can automate your process without AI. In fact, several PM Tools (we use HP´s PPM in my actual work place) has most of the process and calculations automated.
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1 reply by Rajeev Sharma
Dec 06, 2017 11:10 AM
Rajeev Sharma
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Very true automation doesn't means using AI, ML or RPA only.

I worked in Defense, Telecom, Surveillance, VAS and Digital transformation segment for more than 1.5 decades we do a lot of automation without AI/ML through simple logics and scripts (Testing, Deployment or remote configuration management of systems). Moreover, for DevOps and SDLC leveraged a lot many tools who automated various work flows for business improvisation.

However, now a days automation being tagged with AI/ML, also no doubt adding new dimensions on innovation in every domain.
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Automate all repeated tasks. You can have an algorithm for cognitive thinking whose results become better with past history. Let the AI do your repetitive tasks and you work on designing better algorithms and ensuring that the machines do not falter!
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2 replies by Rajeev Sharma
Dec 06, 2017 10:57 AM
Rajeev Sharma
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Thanks for nice inputs.

Machine could be falter for some time while this is in learning and upgrading themselves. Evolution phases took a while to reach at a maturity.
Dec 06, 2017 11:02 AM
Rajeev Sharma
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Very true. Repetitive tasks could be low hanging fruits to grab. Thanks
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From my point of view, the real important things in PM you cannot and should not automate, such as talk to people, strive for conflict resolution, work on daily basis with the team....
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2 replies by Rajeev Sharma and Sante Vergini
Dec 06, 2017 11:01 AM
Rajeev Sharma
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Some times a thought arises not to automate a few domains. However, algorithmic improvisation and technologies enrichment (Speech recognition, Sentiment Analysis, Cognitive/Predictive intelligence and Machines Learning so on and so forth) motivates researchers to pick all untapped domains for disruption.

I feel automation, RPA, AI/ML and disruption is unstoppable now. Speed could very from domain to domain.
Dec 06, 2017 3:27 PM
Sante Vergini
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Peter, interestingly I could see some application for automated feedback such conflict resolution or emotional support. Let's say I have an issue, and I want to get clarity and have some options for ways to handle it, yes I could speak to HR, a psychologist or someone qualified in the business, but sometimes (not always) these people rattle off what they have learned at university during their education or the latest books they have read. If that is the case, why not have a robot do the same thing? That way, there is no bias, emotional gymnastics, condescending feedback, clashes of personalities, and heck I can even choose the style, pitch and emotional level of the voice. True that there is no empathy from the robot, but then in some situations I think most of us are mature enough to not have to hear the standard "I understand how you feel" or "thanks for sharing that with me". The other upside of this is that some issues can be sensitive or even personal, and we don't want this advertized even if there is supposed confidentiality restrictions: people are people and stuff gets out there. Finally, a robot could have millions of book volumes and previous issues in its "brain" to respond appropriately to almost any issue. I understand the argument for the human touch, but I also think sometimes the human touch can be a liability.
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Dec 05, 2017 8:05 PM
Replying to Stéphane Parent
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The easiest part of project management to automate would be the monitoring and control phase. You could build "sensors" to continuously identify progress. Variations outside of a threshold value could automatically trigger actions - email, text, ...
Thanks for response.

Monitoring and control based on automated threshold, constraints or KPI can bring a value. Leveraging sensor in wicked projects could be a potential area for innovation.
Network:373



Dec 06, 2017 12:15 AM
Replying to Sante Vergini
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It would be nice to submit documents to a central source and have them automatically collated, filed, distributed etc. Yes there is a PMIS, but I am referring to a system that reduces the human push on information entry, and pull on sharing/distribution, instead knowing what to store, how/where to store it, and who it should be distributed to.
Thanks. Very true digitization of documents, object driven analytics and infographic representation to stakeholders could be a potential area of RPA.

Still a question would remain answered - how to quantify value add of such RPA for business cases and to convince stakeholder ?
...
1 reply by Sante Vergini
Dec 06, 2017 3:17 PM
Sante Vergini
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Stakeholders could rate the pre and post system to see how useful it was, and if it helped them to do their job better. If it can verify that information got the right person when it sometimes didn't before, or that the information that gets to the person is better (more relevant) than before), this would translate into better decisions for stakeholders.
Network:373



Dec 06, 2017 8:03 AM
Replying to Pravin Kajarekar
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Automate all repeated tasks. You can have an algorithm for cognitive thinking whose results become better with past history. Let the AI do your repetitive tasks and you work on designing better algorithms and ensuring that the machines do not falter!
Thanks for nice inputs.

Machine could be falter for some time while this is in learning and upgrading themselves. Evolution phases took a while to reach at a maturity.
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