Why Should I Use Automation in Project Management Software?
Automation can be defined as the process of using machines and technology to complete tasks and processes with little or no human assistance. Therefore, project management software automation refers to software that can complete basic project management tasks and functions without your intervention.
For example, software that can automatically monitor resource loads and alert you when an employee is overloaded is using automation. Without it, you would have to manually review the resource loading of every employee across every day or week to find out who’s overloaded at which times.
The purpose of automation is to offload manual, time-consuming, repetitive, and/or administrative work from you and your team so that you can spend your time doing more valuable work. Automation also increases repeatability. When a machine completes a process, it removes the human element and therefore produces more predictable results.
Automation frees us from repetitive, low-value work and open us up to a future full of rewarding challenges instead of tedious tasks. Leading companies are already using automation in project management to achieve more with less.
When to use automation in your project management software
The range of automation capability within your project management software can vary greatly. Some tools use automation to help monitor key aspects of the project and alert you of potential issues such as:
- A change in the critical path
- A missed deadline
- An overloaded resource
- A project delay
So the question becomes: What level of automation should you look for, and which project tasks should be automated?
Automation should be looked at as a magnifier. It completes a predefined process for you. So if the process is not already smooth, automating it can make things much worse.
If you don’t have a consistent, repeatable process for smoothing out resource loading, you can’t entrust the task to project management software. It could end up assigning tasks to people not qualified to complete them, breaking dependencies, moving out your timeline, or causing a host of other problems.
If you’re considering incorporating automation into your project management process, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are our most manual, time-consuming administrative tasks?
- Which of our processes are well-documented and mapped?
- Which are consistently repeated with little to no variation?
- Are these processes basic enough for our project management software to automate without human oversight?
- If one of these processes is not completed correctly, how significant is the impact on the project?
How you answer each of the questions above will help you pinpoint where automation can benefit your project and business. Most companies aren’t yet ready to capture the benefits of artificial intelligence, but they can save time by incorporating automation into basic monitoring and reporting.
A few of the most common ways to use automation in project management software are:
- The work intake process flow
- Creation of new projects and tasks
- Sending task reminders and notifications
- The review and approval process
- Identifying bottlenecks
Benefits of automation in project management software
Here are five of the largest benefits you will experience from implementing project management software with automation:
1. Increases productivity
Automation can help you increase your team’s productivity and get more done in less time, without having to acquire more resources. For instance, using templates and automation can help you launch new projects and tasks more quickly. Automation enables you to pre-populate templates with standard information, saving time and reducing the likelihood of errors and missing data.
Automation can also help your organization scale. The magic of automation is that, when implemented correctly, it can increase a team’s output and quality exponentially. Plus, automation increases the predictability of work, making it easier to scale with less risk and fewer variables.
2. Reduces busywork
Automated project management software can tackle administrative tasks and busywork such as sending out project reports, reminding people of upcoming deadlines, and checking on task statuses.
Automation can take care of notifications, updates, and routine reports so that you no longer have to spend hours doing administrative work. By allowing your system to take care of these menial tasks, you’re freed up to focus on the important aspects of project management.
Automation presents an incredible opportunity for your entire project team to offload the low-value production work that occupies a significant portion of their time and focus on work that is more strategic and cognitively engaging and drives higher ROI.
3. Supports integration
How many tools, systems, and applications do you use in your day-to-day work? The adoption of software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools has exploded in the last decade. While these tools have made companies more efficient, the sheer volume of tools can be overwhelming and negatively impact employee productivity.
If the tools, apps, and systems you rely on don’t effectively communicate with each other, they can slow you down and create information silos. In this environment, it becomes difficult and time-consuming to pull out and consolidate all of the relevant data to complete an accurate overall picture of your project.
Without integration and automation, you and your team members are forced to spend more time searching for and aggregating information than actually working. Automation helps integrate multiple tools and systems so they can share information, automatically reflect updates, and enable you to view and manage one single source of truth.
4. Streamlines communication
One area where projects often run into bottlenecks and delays is the review and approval process. Communications get lost or misplaced, stakeholders don't realize the project is waiting on their approval, and various versions of deliverables are attached to multiple email threads.
Smart project managers use automation to optimize this process so that all approvers are notified when they need to review something. When feedback is given, the original assignees receive it all in one place, organized chronologically. Feedback and approvals are clear and time-stamped, and there's much less wasted all around.
Executives can also use automation to make more accurate forecasts and long-term strategic decisions. After all, if they’re getting consistent, automatic updates from a reliable source, they have a better understanding of the company's overall status and position.
5. Maintains quality
Automation maintains quality by ensuring work is done consistently. When there’s a high volume of work and everything must be done manually, mistakes are inevitable. By reducing human interference, automation ensures the ball is never dropped and the quality remains consistent.
Using automation tools like templates, you can simply clone projects and tasks instead of starting from scratch. Templatized processes save high-performance teams a ton of time, freeing resources for more complex or custom projects.
Automation can also be used to intelligently route projects and workflows to the right people based on project requirements and provide individuals real-time work notifications.