How Project Managers Can Leverage Automation

Let’s face it – as project managers, we have a LOT of admin. Projects big and small have many moving pieces that need to be monitored and followed up on. However, often, a lot of those moving pieces end up being redundant or a time suck, forcing project managers to constantly focus on repetitive tasks.

Automation is here to save the day. Its goal is to offload manual work onto a machine to reduce time-consuming, redundant, or routine tasks. This maximizes repeatability while increasing the predictability of results.

Automation: A Project Manager’s New Secret Weapon

There are quite a few ways automation can help a project manager successfully navigate a project. This includes:

Assisting with Scaling

Project managers can leverage automation to grow their teams, projects, and output without actually doubling their headcount.

Offloading Busywork

Automation tools can take over the menial tasks of assigning tickets or sending status updates. This frees up project managers to work on more meaningful tasks throughout their day.

Connecting Systems

Even the smallest of organizations likely have a handful to dozens of cloud applications that they use to deliver their projects. Everything from team communication (Slack) to task management platforms (Trello, Asana) to documentation (Google Docs, Git) and more. And every year, these SaaS platforms seem to increase in number. Automation can help tie various platforms together to help centralize processes in order to make workflows less complicated.

Streamlining Feedback

Project managers often run into walls when there are delays in review processes. Communications can go missing or stakeholders forget to initiate an approval process. Automation can help optimize the feedback process to shorten review processes to help keep projects on track to hit their milestones and deadlines.

Improving Productivity on Multiple Fronts

When it comes to project automation, project managers can streamline many aspects of their productivity, both from a team perspective and personal.

When it comes to personal productivity, for example, project managers can:

  • Get notifications when tasks are completed (instead of having to chase down their status)
  • Assign tasks to themselves automatically
  • Complete several tasks at once
  • Help unblock team members when specific tasks hit a wall

They can also help teams with tasks. Using automation, project managers can help keep the momentum on the project going by:

  • Automating workflows
  • Re-creating specific tasks based on specific conditions
  • Reducing or removing the need for manual check-ins, notifications, updates, and reviews
  • Automating updates and recurring tasks
  • Reducing the need to sync or notify across teams or departments

A bonus to all the time a company will be saving is how much money can be saved. Project managers can shave dollars off of project budgets by saving entire teams dozens of hours of work over the course of the week.

Initiating Automation for the First Time? How to Mitigate Your Risk

When adding any new process into a project, it’s always important to mitigate any risks. By taking steps to ensure the seamless introduction of automation at the beginning of your project, you’re more likely to have a stress-free experience.

To that end, consider:

Planning Early

Develop your plan of attack when it comes to automation early on in the project’s lifespan. Be sure to engage your team from the outset and agree upon the terms of automation with the various stakeholders.

Standardizing Your Processes

Automation tools are designed to be used across multiple industries and often offer lots of flexibility. The downside is that it will be up to the project manager to add the correct structure to ensure the automation protocol is applied appropriately.

Testing! Testing! Testing!

Perform rigorous testing to ensure a safe and efficient automation experience. If you will take the time to create thoughtful procedures, be sure to take the extra step and test them to ensure they work as you expect them to.

Staying Disciplined

As with any new process, especially with seasoned teams, it’s easy to fall into old habits or ways of doing things. Stay disciplined with yourself and your team members to ensure the automation processes put into place are being used as they should be.

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