Robotic Process Automation for Project Management?

robotic process automation for project managementTable of contents

Businesses accelerated their digital transformation to survive the impact of the pandemic. Companies transitioned to automation so that their operations can continue while keeping their employees distantly safe from one another. As the health situation starts to improve, managers are keeping the automated processes they had set up and expanding its application to other areas of operations. In fact, robotic process automation is one of the automation trends that is growing.

What is robotic process automation (RPA)?

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Robotic process automation is automation technology that enables computer software to perform a task by repeating the exact steps performed by a human operator. RPA software functions at the graphical user interface (GUI) level of an application in two ways. One way is by element recognition or finding the UI element name and its attributes. Another is by image recognition or finding a visual area of the application and identifying data, fields, buttons, and interacting with it. An RPA software or bot records how a user performs a task in the GUI of an application and repeats it.

Not all tasks are candidates for RPA. Tasks that meet the following conditions are best suited for RPA:

  • The process follows a certain pattern
  • The process does not require human analytical skills to complete the task
  • The process is consistent in all domains
  • The process is free from errors

Read also: Benefits of Business Process Automation

Benefits of robotic process automation

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A Japanese pharmaceutical company exploring a Covid-19 treatment was able to speed up its clinical trial process by using robotic process automation to automate simple repetitive tasks. Instead of training and deploying employees in the recruitment of recovered patients, the company used RPA software to open files, select input fields, and cut and paste text to extract data. As a result, the company completed the paperwork needed for the trial in days instead of weeks.

RPA is an affordable and pragmatic solution that can work across applications, platforms, departments, and industries. Instead of creating a new system, RPA software can use existing interfaces to automate structured, repeatable, rules-based processes just like macros or software scripts. RPA benefits include:

  • Reduced costs: Bots can complete routine tasks on their own requiring less employees
  • Fast completion rates: Bots can continuously perform without breaks
  • Fewer manual errors: Bots deal with information transfer using element or image recognition, not manual methods like keyboards or select-copy-paste.
  • Reduced burnout/turnover: Bots can work on repetitive and uncreative tasks without care or exhaustion to let employees work on more creative tasks
  • Simple solutions: RPA can work on existing applications without costly or complex reconstruction of internal systems
  • Scalability: Duplicating bots is simpler and cheaper than hiring and training new employees

RPA in project management

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How does RPA affect the project management process? Robotic process automation is relevant across industries and functions such as banking, finance, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, telecom, and utilities. But they are applicable mostly in operational processes where repetition, volume of work, and continuation are important. Project management deals with temporary endeavors with start and end dates. Projects are unique and requires analysis often. In fact, agile project management welcomes changes and puts priority in individuals and interactions over processes and tools.

Read also: How Companies Are Using Intelligent Automation For Project Management

How to use robotic process automation for project management

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RPA has a place in project management. RPA is a type of business process automation and project management follows processes that can benefit from automation. During the different stages of the project lifecycle, RPA can provide the solution to simplifying repetitive tasks.

Requirements gathering

A project that takes input from website forms as part of its gathering and analysis requirements can benefit from RPA. Bots can collect and consolidate information continuously so team members can focus on analysis.

Automated testing

RPA software can test applications regularly to check for the functionality of user interface elements, data input, process flows, API calls, integration, and system response.

Customer support

RPA software capabilities are improving and integrating with intelligent systems that include features such as text analytics, sentiment analysis, image recognition, optical character recognition, and natural language processing. This allows companies to build chatbots that are smarter and responsive. This is important during the maintenance phase of software development lifecycle.

Agile development

RPA is an affordable solution during a sprint where getting additional team members to test or support a prototype or a pilot project would increase the project cost significantly.

Do you need robotic process automation for your project?

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Companies are significantly investing in RPA software, more than they are in cloud, IoT, or analytics according to a 2018 KPMG survey. As businesses look for more ways to drive down operating costs, invest in new or emergent technologies, and optimize processes and functions, RPA presents itself as a great option. Today, more industries are adopting RPA for customer service, invoice processing, sales orders, payroll, price comparison, customer information storing, HR information processing, and recruitment.

Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.