Fusun Borluk, Group Head of Project Management Office, Robotic Process Automation, and IT Quality at AgeSA Hayat ve Emeklilik

Füsun Borluk, who graduated from the Department of Mathematics at Middle East Technical University in 1994, worked in various positions in Turkey’s major institutions such as Yapı Kredi Bank, Akbank, Turkcell Superonline and in the world such as BNP Paribas Cardif and Johnson Controls in her career in Information Technologies. Starting with Systems Engineering, she specialized in Project management, Information Technology Quality and Governance, Nearshore / Offshore Resource and Project Management and Information Technology Holistic Service Management. She worked as an Internal Trainer on various subjects in almost every institution she worked for. She is currently working as the Group Manager responsible for Agile Transformation, Project Management, Robotic Processes and Quality at AgeSA. 


Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the newest trends for the companies. It automates structured, repeatable, and rules-based processes and this way make the life easier by reducing time and cost and eliminating human error i.e. with greater efficiency and productivity. 72% of businesses are expected to invest in RPA over the next years according to some predictions. There may be a question of the difference between the macros or scripted solutions and RPA. Unlike the macros, or traditional software tools that manage simplified, basic processes, RPA software solutions automate complex tasks. At the same time, RPA can interact with multiple applications simultaneously and perform multiple functions at once by interacting with them. So, calling it as one of a fundamental technology would not be an exaggeration.

However, sometimes the employees may not think that as a life saver, in fact, it is sometimes perceived as the threat of elimination of jobs. Most of the time RPA bots frees up the employee’s time for development, or for more valuable activities, not always may there be a different role. 

Another risk of the bots is although it is very tempting to reduce the cost, increase the productivity and efficiency, there may be an unrealistic expectation. Think about thousands of bots, it may become more complex than most had hoped it would be. There is no direct correlation between the automation ratio and the reduction of costs.

Now the second part of this subject is the project management. A very special role, managing the project with impact. I always see the projects as an organization and therefore the Project Manager as the CEO of this organization. There are a lot of aspects to consider: budget, people, time, strategy, risks, quality, vendor …etc., like a company. Therefore, a project manager needs to adapt sudden and total changes daily, like a superhero, or a multitasking wizard. 

So, with all of these on the table, can RPA help the project management activities for reducing time and cost and increasing the efficiency? Also, there are some other parameters such as machine learning, cognitive computing, pattern matching, artificial intelligence which is not only bots but putting intelligence to the equation. So, is it a threat or an opportunity for the Project Management?

Of course, at the moment, the answer is no. As I previously talked about the role of a Project Manager, whenever the CEO job would be automated, then, there may be a possibility.

The most important reason is that project management not only deals with processes or rules, but it also deals with risks, problems, changes, and human. So, it is not very well structured although we all use some methodologies. It is not repeatable; every project has a different story. We always collect lessons learned after every project; however, can we use it verbatim? So how can we produce rules that can be done by bots?  Especially after Agile taking so much place on our lives. Agile says “individuals and interactions over processes and tools”

But this does not mean that we cannot use RPA in project management. The thing is, we cannot replace a Project Manager or an Agile leader as Scrum Mater or whatever, with a bot. We can only give some repeatable tasks to bots rather than humans in project management. Data driven progress management, resource planning, real time reporting, follow ups and closing activities are the first examples coming to mind. Structuring website forms for collecting requirements is just another good example for using RPAs. Checking of the functionality of user interface elements, data input, process flows, API calls, integration, and system response by means of RPA is called test automation which helps to manage time properly rather than manual testing. Especially in Agile sprints, to test or support a prototype or a pilot project would increase the project cost significantly.

The customers’ support by means of chatbots are another good practice to use. RPA is integrated with intelligent systems that include features such as text analytics, sentiment analysis, and natural language processing. This allows companies to have chatbots that are responsive which is important especially in the maintenance phase of projects.

Hence to me, RPA cannot be a threat to a Project Manager rather a great supporter with proving more time to communication which is a key aspect in the role.

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