When most professionals hear the term “project management,” the first thing that comes to mind isn’t exactly a great image.
Pedantic planning meetings. A never-ending sea of task completion emails. The project manager stopping by (yes, again) to ask about task status, interrupting the person from actually working on the task.
Before the project managers boycott us, we’re secretly on your side. We know there’s plenty more to it than that — you’re providing a crucial service. And it’s not your fault that your discipline gets such a bad rap.
Here’s something both sides can agree on: What if, instead, the term brought to mind things like better productivity, clearer direction, fewer repetitive emails, and even fewer “where’s the task?” visits from the project manager?
This is exactly the potential that project management automation holds.
Let’s look at how this technology-fueled project management approach can transform project work, making teams happier and more efficient.
What is project management automation?
Project management automation uses technology systems to perform project management tasks without manual human interaction, usually similar to how humans would perform the task.
Using project management automation, organizations can complete certain tasks exponentially faster and with far lower error rates than humans can achieve manually. These tasks are generally low-complexity tasks that humans would be happy to avoid entirely, which means team members have more time for strategic, higher-value work.
Project management automation examples
Many project management tasks can be automated, depending on the software an organization employs and the user's or programmer's capabilities and creativity.
One basic example of project management automation is automatically sending an email based on specific triggers, such as marking a task complete in task management software.
Another is any kind of automated alert your project management software sends based on conditions that the user defines (or the software has predefined). If you’re already using project management software and receiving these kinds of alerts, it’s easy to take them for granted (or even view them as an annoyance). But consider just how powerful even simple automations can be.
An automated alert about an overdue or stuck task is a great example of this. Project management software can scan an entire organization’s worth of projects and project tasks and generate as many alerts to as many people as necessary, all in a few seconds (or less!). Without this, project leads and project managers would spend hours each week performing the same checks (and certainly couldn’t perform them as frequently or thoroughly).
Let’s look at a few more specific project management automation examples.
Recurring tasks for workflow automation
Most organizations that use project management tools to assist in project planning and scheduling will often encounter similar, iterative, or recurring tasks. For example, let's say you’re producing a book chapter by chapter. Chances are, your project team will follow the same workflow for every chapter. The same goes for any other deliverables across any industry, where there’s some segmentation or the creation of multiple similar parts.
Creating these similar or identical tasks and workflows every single time is time-consuming (not to mention mind-numbing). Process automation within project management software makes it simple to set up recurring tasks so you can automatically populate tasks and workflow automations rather than manually rebuild them each time.
Beyond the tasks you’re scheduling for your team, there are all sorts of recurring, repetitive tasks within the discipline of project management: task completion emails, project status updates, marking tasks complete in a spreadsheet or software, routing documents for approval, etc. One automation firm finds that the typical office worker spends as many as 60 hours per month on tasks like these that could easily be automated.
Teamwork.com users enjoy the powerful Teamwork.com Automation Engine, which can streamline repetitive work and automate recurring tasks. With our Automation Engine, you or your project managers can save significant time when setting up and scheduling projects. You can use prebuilt automations from our gallery or build your own custom automations for use within the Teamwork.com platform.
Custom email marketing campaigns
Automation is at the heart of modern email marketing. Think about those “Happy Birthday” emails we all get yearly from our favorite retailers, restaurant chains, and coffee conglomerates. We all know they aren’t sending those manually to every single customer (though the mental picture of a million Starbucks email-senders sitting in some office complex is a little amusing).
Instead, they’re using email marketing automation. It’s pretty much the only way to do email marketing at scale. Your marketing team may already be using it, too.
What does this have to do with project management, though? You’re not exactly in the habit of sending marketing emails, but you do send a whole bunch of notification emails: to the project team, stakeholders, departmental teams and leaders, etc. Some of these are just as robotic as sending the same email birthday greeting to millions of customers, following predictable rules and not changing much — if ever.
Emails like these are ripe for automation, similar to email marketing campaigns. For example, imagine that a user clicks on a marketing email and begins the sales or signup process. Instead of manually changing details in the CRM (let’s say the user’s in HubSpot) or manually creating new project tasks associated with the customer account, Teamwork.com users can use automations to create projects and tasks when a deal changes in HubSpot.
Payroll, PTO, holidays off, and HR department tasks
If even reading this heading gives you a little heartburn, you’re probably a department or project leader who’s dealt with some of these repetitive tasks manually. We don’t need to take a particularly deep dive here as many HR-related automations are in robotic process automation (RPA) or business process automation (BPA), slightly separate disciplines.
We’ll just sum up by saying there are all sorts of areas in HR and payroll that you can automate, and HR professionals benefit more from automation than most other professionals, eliminating as much as 30% of administrative tasks.
7 benefits of project management automation
You can automate numerous kinds of project management tasks. But if you’ve never explored this kind of automation before, it may seem daunting to get to this supposed automation utopia. And, to be honest, it will take work to get there.
It’s fair to ask whether putting in the effort and investment is truly worth it. We’ve seen the results firsthand, and we’re here to tell you emphatically: Yes, it’s worth the investment.
Consider these seven benefits of automating aspects of your project managementworkflows.
1) Eliminates creating recurring tasks
We covered this earlier as an example of automation applied to the project management process, and it’s certainly a major benefit as well. Building routine tasks with high predictability is a serious time drain for you, but software can do it in a snap.
See how Teamwork.com empowers project planning through better software and robust automation.
2) Enhances productivity
When you’re not manually creating tasks, writing emails, or forwarding completion notices from team members, you reclaim significant chunks of your week that you can now use on higher-value productive work. Through careful automation (including templates), you’ll save time and offload needless work from your team members.
With more time to work through bottlenecks and solve process problems, project managers and team members alike should see better productivity and more project progress.
3) Integrates with your team's existing tech tools
There are all sorts of project automation tools available in today’s market. None of them does everything equally well, so it’s possible you may end up with a use case that leads you to incorporate additional automation tools.
On top of that possibility, many of the tools you already use also contain project automation capabilities. On the surface, this sounds like a problem: With various tools handling various aspects of the project, you could end up with a half dozen or more disconnected systems that don’t talk to each other.
But there's good news here. Most project automation tools do play nice with others, offering API integrations so that your various apps and services can share data as needed.
Take Teamwork.com, for example. Our powerful project management and task management software platform integrates with over a hundred other tools businesses like yours use to get work done. Whatever you’re currently using, there’s a good chance Teamwork.com already integrates well with it, expanding your automation capabilities that much more.
And even if you’re using tools that don’t naturally integrate, you may be able to get the outcomes you need by using a third-party tool like Zapier or Automate:
Zapier is a well-known service that can support basic integrations between apps.
Automate.io is another popular tool for connecting cloud-based apps.
4) Reduces the chances of communication gaps
How many times have you been left off an email thread (or out of a Slack conversation) in a way that ended up derailing work or creating a bottleneck? It isn’t ideal, to say the least.
If you’re a project manager using a manual email-based task completion system, you know the frustration of chasing down team members to ask when they’ll be done — only to hear that they finished their task two days ago but “must’ve forgotten to send the notification email.”
These are just two examples (and there are plenty more) of communication gaps. In both cases, a human made a human error.
Robots and software tools don’t make those errors: They do exactly what they’re programmed to do every single time. So as long as you program your automations properly, they should eliminate many of the communication gaps you may be living with currently.
5) Provides real-time reporting
Additionally, automation helps close the gap between action and analysis. When properly utilized, a project management software system can automatically collect data and report that data however you direct — in real time. When a user marks a task complete, a SaaSproject management tool like Teamwork.com logs that data and includes it in any report that’s in progress or triggered to complete.
If you’re still operating without a project management tool that doesn’t look suspiciously like it’s just Excel, then real-time reporting just isn’t a thing. Instead, you’re likely spending hours each week pulling data, checking in with people, and preparing reports.
All of that virtually disappears overnight, thanks to the powerful data and reporting capabilities that just about any robust project management solution will offer.
6) Reduces the amount of busy work your team has to complete
Project management automation easily takes care of many repetitive tasks humans would otherwise be responsible for: tasks they don’t enjoy doing and frequently make mistakes in.
Another word for this is busy work: stuff that doesn’t inspire anyone or directly lead to results, but that just has to get done (for recordkeeping, compliance, or other uninteresting reasons).
Reducing busy work is a win for your employees — no one likes checking boxes, filling out repetitive forms, or sending 17 task completion emails every week, right?
But reducing busy work is also a win for your project budgets and project timelines. Less busy work means less time to do the same work, and less time equals less money.
This is a big deal considering the state of projects across businesses. One industry watcher finds that only 43% of organizations complete projects on budget most or all of the time, leaving a staggering 57% who stay on budget half the time or less (or don’t even track it!).
7) Increases output
Last, project management automation increases output. The project managers will notice this immediately in their own work. And overall team productivity will also improve as they settle into a new normal of not having to send emails every time they finish anything (among the many other repetitive tasks we’ve mentioned throughout).
Automate your projects with Teamwork.com
Project management automation is one key to increasing productivity, reducing errors, improving morale, and expanding capacity within project management and throughout your organization. You need a powerful, robust project management platform at the heart of any cohesive effort to automateproject management tasks.
Teamwork.com is that platform. Built for creatives, agencies, and businesses of all sizes, Teamwork.com is powerful and flexible as a project management platform. It also empowers project managers and teams to automate numerous project management tasks and reap all seven of the benefits we covered today.
If you’re ready to start automating and stop the deluge of manual, repetitive work, then you’re ready for Teamwork.com. See Teamwork.com for yourself now: Sign up today.