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Modernizing program management through automation

Combining the agility of emerging technologies with strong governance can deliver strategic, innovative solutions.

In brief

  • Today’s transforming digital landscape offers program managers (PMs) the opportunity to enhance efficiency and performance with new emerging technologies.
  • By 2023, agile program and project management (PPM) practices, artificial intelligence (AI) and digital platforms will become the dominant approaches for driving enterprise change.¹
  • A robust governance framework is required to effectively integrate the benefits of emerging technologies into the organization.

The drivers of PPM and agile delivery are constant adaptation and speed to market. AI, robotic process automation (RPA) and other emerging technologies are key to this effort. Bringing the two worlds together to fuel intelligent automation can deliver superior business value to operational areas.

Yet, integrating automation and other new capabilities while continuing to deliver programs and projects that are aligned with strategic priorities can present governance challenges. For example, some financial institutions (FIs) find it difficult to manage the scalability and advanced analytics required to meet evolving customer needs while also addressing the risks inherent in emerging technologies.

Intelligent automation is the future of PPM and has the potential to power significant efficiencies. To keep pace, FIs must embrace holistic approaches to automated solutions and employ robust PPM and agile delivery governance frameworks to ensure that the benefits captured from technology integrations align with the strategy.

Where PPM and emerging technologies intersect

The planning, management and execution of programs and projects across business and functional units typically involve moving parts such as budgets, timelines, targets and measures. Employing AI and RPA-driven predictive analytics for planning, decision-making and risk identification streamlines processes, reduces costs and empowers PMs and sponsors to make better decisions.

Similarly, while today’s agile delivery tools provide basic data visualization capabilities, leaders have rightly argued that those tools often lack the advanced analytical capabilities needed to harvest actionable insights from project data for prediction, estimation and planning.² AI-driven solutions can make agile delivery leaner, faster and stronger by enabling improvements in budget and resource management, user story and requirement development, daily standup facilitation and other areas.

How transformation leaders leverage emerging technologies

To fully realize the benefits of emerging technologies, FIs should adopt a top-down approach that incorporates core principles of program management. One common approach is to utilize a managed service offering that employs proven transformation frameworks, tools and accelerators to deliver maximum value.

These packaged PPM-targeted solutions deliver the power of AI and RPA while leveraging lower-cost personnel at scale. Whether supplied by a vendor or not, solutions should be designed to motivate employees by enhancing the interpersonal elements of managing projects.

While some aspects of PPM are not highly structured, repeatable or rules-based,³ there are opportunities to employ automated solutions across the project life cycle. Some illustrative examples include:

Budget and resource management:

PMs must provide data-driven results within finance and taskforce management. Applying RPA to automate tasks, such as financial modeling, resource and/or budget forecasting using historical data, can provide stakeholders with robust information to drive decision-making. RPA also can be used to automate approval workflows and collate spending reports.

User story and requirements development:

Process automation can enhance workflows for user story creation, approval and acceptance by product owners and agile delivery teams. AI can evaluate user stories for completion and adherence to leading practices, quickly notifying the team of deviations to facilitate faster updates.

Daily standup facilitation:

On a regular cadence, RPA bots can connect with team members to request the status of activities and/or tasks. Individual team members can provide progress updates and report issues or roadblocks, which can then be relayed to the larger team.

Backlog and future sprint management:

Process automation can enable post-release monitoring of solutions and support maintenance. It also can identify, catalog and refine backlog items for future sprint planning. RPA can reduce maintenance support requirements and costs.


AI, RPA and other emerging technologies are changing the PPM and agile delivery landscapes, helping drive improved agility, efficiency and decision-making. To get the most out of that innovation, FIs must adapt existing governance practices to manage the challenges and risks of new technologies while supporting the institution’s strategy.

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