A campaign, product launch, or other project is a busy time for any firm. Assets have to be procured or created. People have to be informed and directed. It is the project manager's job to ensure that everything goes smoothly.
One way to make this process less of a headache? Automate whenever possible.
Automation refers to the assigning of repetitive or mundane tasks to machines or software. Since those machines can complete those tasks with little to no assistance from people, delegating them offers a project manager more time to dedicate to other essential assignments.
Multiple fields, from auto manufacturing to farm work, use automation to boost efficiency and increase productivity. Cars get assembled more quickly, reducing the danger to human workers. Crops get harvested and tracked more efficiently across the globe.
When it comes to project management software, automation might mean keeping in touch with a team via notifications. It could also entail using a mountain of customer engagement data to identify patterns in the latest social media campaign. The right software can automate the processes that burn out and bog down project managers, allowing them to spend their energy where it counts the most.
Pretty much everyone should be using automation in their workflow at this point — it simply offers too many benefits not to. In addition to taking mundane tasks off your plate, automation can help your business by alerting you to problems before they escalate. Some of these include:
To determine whether project software automation makes sense for you, there are a few factors to consider.
One is whether there’s already an issue with the task you want to automate. If something isn’t working correctly, automating it won’t help. Be sure a process is running as smoothly as possible before delegating it to the software.
You’ll also need a coherent process for assigning different aspects of your project to your staff. If the system automatically delegates a task to a person who isn’t qualified to complete it, it’ll cause all sorts of problems and delays.
When considering the potential tasks to automate as a project manager, ask yourself questions like:
Mapping these areas will give you a better idea of which tasks to automate, and which to leave to people. Some of the common automated tasks in project management include task reminders, job intake workflow, and the approval process.
There are usually four phases within any project: planning, execution, monitoring, and closure. Each area has certain tasks and processes that can be automated to save a project manager both time and effort.
Do some digging and see what isn’t working. A good start would be to review current processes to see where bottlenecks could form, and then work from there.
During the planning phase — also called initiation — the scope of the project is defined while the deliverables and the key stakeholders are identified. A thorough project plan is made, and everyone is assigned their tasks.
The processes involved in this phase include establishing a timeframe, mapping a budget, identifying necessary resources, training staff, and defining risks. So, which of these processes can automation help? How?
Consider the process of training staff. Training each person one-on-one would eat up a lot of time. However, recording a series of short videos which those people could access whenever they needed to would help automate the process of training. They could still ask questions as needed, but a lot of time would be freed up in the meantime.
Once the project is in motion, the project manager’s job is to monitor its many moving parts. Tasks during this phase include organizing workflows, resource tracking, updating stakeholders, monitoring performance, and tracking deliverables.
Automated project management software allows project managers to share updates with stakeholders and staff in real-time. They can share progress, projections, and whether those projections shift according to automatically generated reports.
Automated calendar reminders and emails can also help keep people aware of deadlines, or notify project managers as projects are completed. Some software even provides for the automatic production of certain documents or the utilization of email templates to make securing contracts or sending updates that much easier.
This phase runs in tandem with execution as the project manager tracks everything as it unfolds. Goal progress, communications, updates, data reporting, and more are monitored in real-time.
Tasks during this phase could be tracking KPIs, monitoring tasks, reallocating resources, and tracking progress on key deliverables. Changes are often needed in this phase as the project plan adapts to its real-world execution.
Automation can keep everyone informed of important changes. If a document is updated or a certain aspect of the project is approved, for example, the system can ensure that everyone is automatically notified.
People who need to approve an item are notified that something is waiting for approval. Project managers can be automatically notified of suggestions that a team leaves on a document. This allows the entire team to respond more efficiently to changes during the project.
In the end phase, deliverables are reviewed to make sure they meet quality standards, benchmarks are measured against performance, and areas of improvement are identified. Automation can assist project managers to communicate with everyone involved during the project review and identify what value they may bring to future campaigns.
Common tasks during closure include assessing team performance, evaluating how well resources were used, reallocating unused resources, and reporting data. When automatic analytics features collect data throughout a project, project managers can use it to identify what works and what doesn’t during this phase.
Automation can also facilitate the collection of feedback from team members. Where do they think they could improve? What improvements do they think should be made to the processes they use?
Distributed workforces are becoming more commonplace, particularly among software and technology companies that do not need to keep all employees on-site.
Accelo’s project management software can help you stay in touch with your team and operate efficiently no matter where you are. Check out what features we offer and give it a try! Contact us to learn more about what automation can do for your business today.