We’ve all experienced it: projects that keep you up at night.
If you are reading this article, then you are probably trying to figure out how to save time, money, and make your job easier.
The secret is project automation.
Sure, project automation might be a huge time and money-saver, but isn’t it risky? How do we know projects are being completed accurately? What if the automation breaks?
These are all fair questions. And as professional project leaders and entrepreneurs, we struggle with letting go and trusting in systems that can actually help us.
In this article, we will talk not only about the key benefits of project automation but also how you can automate projects correctly—even while you sleep.
The Benefits of Project Automation
Although many fear that the world of AI will take over jobs, studies have shown that 20 percent of organizations that use automation report cost savings of at least 15 percent. Overall, organizations that implement new automated workflows see an overall improvement in their systems in three to five years.
Furthermore, Gartner predicts that by 2030, 80 percent of project management tasks, such as data collection, tracking, and reporting will be automated.
Automation is Really a Mindset
Before you dive into automating your projects, you first must learn how to think with an automation mindset. This might take some practice. When approaching a new project with an automation mindset, this means that rather than thinking who will do something, think how it will get done.
Automation focuses on adopting the right habits to get something done. Asking how rather than who can set you up for successful project automation, and ultimately more successful project outcomes.
When you ask the question, “How will this work get done?” you should immediately think, “Should this be automated?” In addition to assigning new projects, it’s also important to ask this question when discussing and reviewing existing tasks and work with your team. Chances are that there are opportunities to automate projects that are already in the pipeline or that your team is already working on.
How Project Automation Can Fix the “Broken” Process
If you are reading this article because your current process is “broken” or you repeatedly experience project failure, then you might be looking to automation to help fix some of these pain points.
Your process might be broken if you and your project team are or have been experiencing one or several of the following:
- Delivering projects late
- Failing to deliver projects that accurately meet customer specifications
- Frequent changes in project requirements (“scope creep”) throughout the project
- Project teams and resources are struggling to keep up with projects
- Project teams and resources are spending too much time on certain tasks
If your project team is constantly struggling to keep up with projects and tasks, and nothing seems to get done on time, many organizations make the all-too-common mistake of thinking that they are short on resources. Although this could be true, hiring additional resources may not be the answer.
In our experience, processes “break” because they are either mismanaged or are overly complex. One way to simplify project management and processes is project automation. Again, this requires having an automation mindset in order to identify gaps in your current process and find potential solutions to fix those gaps and streamline operations.
All in all, the overarching goal is to identify and craft an ideal project management workflow that not only facilitates clarity and communication but also operates and functions overnight.
How to Automate Your Projects
Now that you understand how project automation can help, now you might be eager to put something in motion. So, here’s the million-dollar question: How do you automate your projects?
Here are some steps to help you do that:
Decide WHAT to Automate.
Before you start automating everything under the sun, it’s important to be strategic. First, take the time to decide which tasks or project phases to automate.
For example, maybe you spend the most time setting up a new project. This might involve collecting a proposal, reviewing the project scope, creating a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and setting up a project timeline.
Of course, project management intervention will be necessary in some of these tasks, but the process of collecting the proposal, storing in a project management tool, and setting up a new project within that tool are some possible tasks that could be automated. This way, if a new project comes in overnight, it will be set up and ready to roll by the time you start work the next morning.
If you are unsure of what to automate, one helpful exercise is to create a spreadsheet with columns for the tasks that you do every day, how much time you spend doing said tasks, and what tool(s)/solution(s) would help you get them done faster. All in all, begin with identifying the repetitive, laborious tasks as these are often the easiest to automate.
Map Out a New Workflow.
Once you have identified the project phases that you could automate, the next step is to map out what a new workflow would look like with that automation. Don’t worry about all the technical details at this stage; simply draw or map out an ideal workflow.
After mapping out your new workflow and structure, now it’s time to find tools and technologies to help you automate each step in the workflow. For example, many tools have built-in integrations with various apps that you probably already use (i.e. Slack, Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.)
If there aren’t integrations available for the particular apps that you use, you can always try using Zapier.
Test and Troubleshoot.
Will your automated workflow come out perfect the first time around? Maybe (but probably not). You will likely have to make some adjustments. Before unleashing your new automated workflow to your team, it’s important to test it out. Recruit a team member to help you. Not only will this help you test and troubleshoot the workflow, he or she may also identify additional gaps or recognize other areas to automate that you may not have thought of.
Once your new automated workflow is set up and running, don’t forget to document your new process. Refine the original workflow map you created at the beginning and share it with your team. This will help them understand the new process and how they will be working with the new tool(s), if applicable.
Project Automation: Work Smarter, Not Harder
Regardless of project or business size, scope, or industry, projects and processes involve many moving parts. And no business can operate and function smoothly without proper project management. With that being said, there’s no reason why project management can’t be simplified.
All in all, today’s organizations are looking for simple project management solutions that can easily be implemented and executed with little training, resources, and cost to the organization. Therefore, the best solutions are automated solutions.
With that being said, there isn’t anything wrong with organizations that choose to follow traditional project management processes. Any type of project that is high risk in nature is likely to benefit from traditional project management—to a point. However, any project type can benefit from project automation.
How Rindle Can Help
Many organizations are under the misconception that project automation is a huge undertaking that involves investing in expensive software, or hiring a full IT department. Not necessarily… It involves shifting your mindset, focusing on how to help execute projects more efficiently. Work smarter, not harder. Furthermore, automating projects, even just the smaller tasks, is what really makes a big impact.
Are you looking for a project or task management tool with built-in project automation capabilities? Rindle is an all-in-one project management tool that has everything you need to manage—and automate—your projects effectively.
Give Rindle a try today, so you can sleep tonight.