Automation has become increasingly common in many different industries, especially in project management. It’s easy to see why: tedious and repetitive tasks can easily be done much faster and more accurately by machines than by hand. If you’re not yet including automation in your project management software, read on to find out why you should consider doing so.
How does automation work?
The exact specifics of automation and what can be automated will depend on the project management software you are using. Generally, automation is used to monitor critical project indicators and automatically respond to events, such as by sending out alerts or conducting pre-determined actions.
Such automation uses include when project deadlines are missed, resources are overloaded, or quickly creating the scaffolding for new projects.
What can be automated?
A lot has been written about project management, and there are countless theories about how to manage projects best. Automation in project management software is not a replacement for well-established theories and practices; instead, it should be considered an augmentation.
Reduction in workload
Automation helps remove a lot of the ‘busy work’ of project management. For example, there is likely a lot of setup and maintenance work required every time a new project is started. This may involve creating the structure of a project, developing timelines, creating budgets, and assigning tasks to personnel.
All of this is time-consuming, which makes it a great candidate for automation. Many project management software will offer templates or other automated tools that allow you to create new, bespoke projects automatically.
Project maintenance tasks
Automation is also helpful for project maintenance tasks once your project is up and running. Tasks such as compiling data and producing reports regularly can easily be automated, allowing you to keep on top of projects and track critical metrics at regular intervals without any manual intervention.
It’s also possible to automatically monitor project performance and define thresholds for project metrics to send out an alert when reached. For example, if one particular task is at risk of running over budget, a notification can automatically be sent out once a pre-defined level is reached. This allows you to monitor and take actions about crucial project metrics without having to intervene manually.
Why should I use automation?
The simple answer is that it saves time and reduces workload. Automatic project management monitoring is particularly useful, as it means that project managers can take their minds off constantly tracking metrics and focus on other tasks that require human ingenuity. This allows them to be more productive by focusing more of their energy on the more critical tasks.
Automation also helps to reduce tedium and burnout. Repetitive tasks can quickly become uninteresting and boring. This may not seem like a big problem, but over time these issues can grate on people. Repeating the same action many times over is a waste of your human resources. In contrast, machines can easily perform these repetitive tasks as many times as desired without ever getting bored or burnt out.
Maximizing automation in project management software
Another benefit is it opens up the possibility of integration with other software you use. Many SaaS (software as a service) tools offer API or integration options that allow you to include events from other software in your project management workflow.
For example, if you use a SaaS service for your CRM or mailing list, you may wish to automatically notify external clients or partners after certain project milestones are met. This can be automatically configured to notify people via email, Slack, or any other communication medium that you specify once these thresholds are met. There is no need to track the metrics or send out the emails manually – it will automatically be done for you.
Automation in project management software enables both workers and project managers to be more productive. This is achieved in several ways, from automating repetitive tasks to monitoring project performance 24/7 and integrating with other tools in your wider business workflow.
Projects that rely entirely on manual processes for all aspects of project management risk being left behind by competitors that embrace automation. Automation is already commonplace in the industry, and its benefits mean it is unlikely to go away anytime soon.
Automation allows you to manage projects more efficiently, keep on top of critical metrics and monitor performance with less effort than fully manual processes. Automation is only getting smarter, and the range of tasks that can be automated is ever-increasing, so it pays to take advantage of this if you are not already and offload your tedious, repetitive tasks to focus on the more essential things.
Paul Towler is the Technical Operations Director at SmartOffice, a software automation provider who has helped many businesses install document management systems and software to support their project management needs. As a result, these businesses have saved time and money and increased productivity.