A Guide to Automating Project Management Tasks 2021
Last time, we told you all about how gamification and UX design can keep users hooked to your app. This week we discuss new advances in project management technology.
Quality project management blends art, science, and skill in a unique way. It’s a field that takes years to fully learn and far longer to really perfect. Complete automation—replacing a human expert with a software solution—is still at least a decade away, if it’s even possible at all. There already exist, however, highly capable and effective automation tools that can be a game-changer when it comes to project management.
Project management automation is augmenting the skill sets of today’s project managers instead of replacing them. The human factors of the role have always been the most critical, and it’s these that are all but impossible to replace with just software alone. This doesn’t mean automation has a small or limited role to play, however, far from it.
Automation should be at the heart of successful project management. Used to take the most highly mundane, trivial, and repetitive tasks out of the equation, project management automation should revolutionise how project managers go about their roles.
Used well, automation allows managers to create a more efficient, effective, and interesting role for themselves. This new kind of role is one that creates a greater focus on the task and objectives that truly matter to project success. For companies and management alike, it’s one that’s going to be more and more critical as time goes on.
What Can Project Management Automation Do today?
Far from being a future ambition, automated project management solutions are already key to most firms. Software solutions are already offering astonishing degrees of automation and massive advantages to handling updates, workflows, and notifications at scale.
Improve Risk Assessment and Metric Tracking
Data and metadata collection have made AI-powered tools exponentially better at forecasting over the last two decades. Ten years ago, predictive text tools for mobile devices were more of a punchline than a truly useful feature. Even five years ago, they were still a mild nuisance. Today, emails can be drafted from the desktop with a capable and effective automated co-pilot taking guidance and clues from the sender.
This trend for consistently improving automated predictions is prevalent across all fields and industries today. Logistics and agricultural companies, for example, regularly use weather monitoring, shipping notifications, and inventory tracking as inputs into their processes. Tech firms rely on data too—using build notifications, time tracking, and version control to inform their automations.
The more data you can incorporate into your analysis, the more accurate and detailed your predictions can be. This accuracy feeds into improved risk assessments and meeting future deadlines with ease.
Offload Routine and Mundane Tasks
Project Management experts excel at new tasks, complex puzzles, and human problems. In contrast, everyone struggles when presented with the most repetitive, mundane, and grinding parts of the role.
Time tracking, reporting, and updating stakeholders, for example, can be some of the most un-inspiring aspects of project management. Luckily, these are areas ideally suited to being handed over for tools and automation to take over.
Most popular project management tools available today already have solutions available to meet these problems. Today’s highly capable and efficient software suites can—with or without their automation capabilities—level up your project management abilities to new heights. Ideally suited for keeping team members on the same page and deadlines on track, they’re almost an unfair advantage in comparison to what was available just a few years ago.
Plugging automations into these workflows can supercharge progress and results. Automation tools that take project data and turn them into action can take the trivial, dull, and mundane out of people’s hands altogether.
Improve Coordination and Organisation
Getting communication and coordination just right is the most difficult part of project management. Too much and you’re getting in the way; too little and resources or people aren’t in the right place at the right time. Finding the balance is hard.
A few years ago, the ideal model of project management was one with a central figure directing every part of a project down to the last details. With time and consistently advancing tools, that model has now grown outdated.
Today, successful project management has evolved from being strictly dictated to one steered by feedback, guidance, and coordination with teams. The difference is a surprisingly stark one.
Automation in this area, when implemented well, allows for stakeholders to be notified when feedback, input, or approval is needed on tasks. It allows project managers to take their cues from production teams and creates an environment that allows everyone to work at their best—making the most out of every available resource.
If you haven’t already done so, it’s far past time to ditch the long-outdated practices of monitoring multiple email threads, tracking multiple slack conversations, and searching for scattered links. Well placed project management solutions allow for a central repository of resources. Using this, it’s almost trivial to incorporate automated alerts and reporting into workflows that can vastly improve communications and coordination.
4. Assist in Scaling Efforts
The unique and difficult challenges associated with project management grow almost exponentially with the size of a team or project. The number of tasks to monitor, team members to communicate with, and the amount of risk incurred in a project all scale upwards at an alarming rate.
Project management automations create an environment where teams can grow while maintaining a relatively consistent management overhead. Using automated alerts, tracking, and workflows ensure the productivity Vs overhead equation is always in your favour as a project manager.
Predictability is the single greatest unsung advantage that comes with automation. Better visibility, faster updates, and improved metrics all bring about an increase in how reliable results can be as a team’s efforts scale.
The Limits of Project Management Automation
What can be disappointing for newcomers is that automations are far from a one-click solution to long-term project management. There will always be a need for a skilled expert to coordinate efforts with the aid of automated tools and processes.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however. Even our most advanced automations still need a human in the loop. Self-driving cars, aircraft autopilot, and automated manufacturing all require a qualified and attentive expert to stand in, monitor and direct what software is doing.
Rather than replacing the human expert, automation exists to change what their role entails instead. In project management, People skills, knowledge, and practical experience will always be in demand. Automations merely allow the human to focus on these aspects of the role instead.
Leaving behind the drudgery and mundane of setting up access permissions, notifying stakeholders, and tracking assets frees up time and brainpower for the human expert to do what they’re best at. It’s not a one-click solution, but it’s at least as good as having an extra pair of hands.
Three Key Project Management Automation Tools Available Today
A project management solution utilised heavily in the software development industry, Jira is widely known for being reliable, adaptable, and highly capable. If you’re working with software, there’s an excellent chance you’ve come across this tool already. Perhaps you have even used it in the past without leaning on its automation capabilities.
Project managers can use Jira Automations to supercharge an already highly capable software package. The automated tools offered allow project managers to plan development sprints, track progress, manage automated releases and generate reports without needing any further input.
2. Wrike Project Management
Wrike project management software is a high-quality project management tool and a top competitor to Jira. In a similar vein, the automation capabilities of Wrike can extend its capabilities to rapidly become a core part of a firm’s efficiency and productivity.
The software boasts a unique built-in automation engine that handles notifications and task management with ease. Like Jira, Wrike comes readily equipped with an extensive catalogue of customisable templates for setting up its automation rules.
It’s a software solution ideally suited for teams looking to scale up from a relatively small start.
A widely recognisable name in software development, Asana is known for creating a range of productivity tools that enhance organisations. Asana’s project management solution prioritises collaboration and streamlined processes as key to its remarkable success.
The software supports a high degree of customisation in its automation workflows. A large part of the suite’s utility lies in extensive third-party integrations to enhance communications with related software packages and create additional automation capabilities.
A powerful and highly-productive tool, it’s well suited to businesses ranging in size from a handful of staff to multi-national companies.
The Future of Your Project Management Automations
Efficient automation is a remarkably powerful tool. Surprisingly, it’s one that is still being underrated and overlooked in a handful of companies.
Using project management automation well is key to achieving consistently greater results with fewer resources. With a skilled project manager in the driver’s seat, automation can overhaul and revolutionise your teams and practices to the next level.
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