This is What a Project Manager of the Future Looks Like

Aug 21, 2018
Post Masthead

Back in my days as a project manager, I would try to centralize our process and workflow in a bunch of different ways so that everyone could follow the same exact process, and we’d get a predictable result.

To me, we could save more time by being as operationalized and repeatable as possible.

(Which as a PM is the dream.)

However, I always saw things fall apart when I would try to say, “This is exactly how we're organizing our process.”

“There are X number of things that happen at each step of our workflow — and they must happen every single time. Perfectly.”

Except there’s kind of one glaring problem: how do we get people to flawlessly execute? Every time they do it?

And how do we get people to even remember to do those things?

The Problem with Process

Reality check: most team members don’t care nearly as much about the follow-up tasks and strict processes as you probably do. (And that’s okay.)

For example, if you were to ask a developer, “Hey, when you're done with that piece, can you please move the task over to this step, check off all of the items in this checklist, and also notify these three people?”

In most cases, the developer will probably blankly stare at you (at least — I definitely would).

They’re not going to remember to do that.

I hate to say it, but it’s kind of not their job to.

As a result, the entire process slows down, and the project loses time — and we all know time is money.

This is because there’s a separate process that’s happening behind the scenes you may not even be aware of.

To the developer, he’s thinking, “Oh yeah. Brian said to do this. I had to remember to notify George about it, and I didn't, and therefore the whole process just stops because I forgot.”

Of course, you can train team members to follow a specific workflow.

However, things happen… and when a step in the process is missed, you suddenly lose an entire day of project flow — or more.

As you can imagine, this would be detrimental for projects that are already under a tight deadline. So, by the time I would check in and get caught up, and reconnect all the pieces, I have lost a day or more…

That was when I thought… “Can we do something different to help manage the process side of project management?”

Can project managers get ahead of this challenge somehow?

Then, automations — and Rindle — were born.

Project Management Software Boom By 2020—and Beyond

It’s no secret that project management has changed considerably over the decades.

Project management methodologies, communication, virtual work environments and technology are just some areas of project management that have changed.

And as a result, processes have also changed.

In fact, according to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research, the global online project management software market is expected to reach a value of $6.68 billion by the year 2026.

Many businesses are adopting various applications and project management tools and solutions to help them manage projects and processes more efficiently.

I could go on all day about how technology has impacted multiple areas of project management.

But, in this article, I want to talk about one specific area has changed project management—and that is automation.

What is Automation?

So, what exactly do I mean? What is an automation exactly?

An automation involves taking the steps that you follow for a particular project and automating them so that they automatically happen based on a series of rules, without any human input or interaction.

You might be familiar with basic if-then statements by using tools such as Zapier.

You can build a series of if-then statements with a series of triggers and actions that will do things for you, customizing them to work in your workflow.

For example, if you need to move a project or task into a specific list, or if you want to do something to the task itself, you can build automation into a series of actions.

Here's one of the most common examples we see in Rindle. The automation is auto-completing a task when moved to a specific column:

Why We Built Automations in Rindle

So, why did we do it? Why did we build automation into Rindle in the first place?

It’s simple: We wanted to take project management to the next level.

(To the future!)

Most PM tools and software available today are great for organizing, assigning tasks and due dates, and tracking collaboration, right?

But there are TONS of applications that already do this. There isn’t anything new…

We wanted to build a tool that was different. In addition to organizing tasks, assigning them, managing communication and collaboration, and tracking the work in various projects, we wanted to build a tool that automated those processes.

A simple example of automation in action is a user moving a task to a review step.

This automatically notifies “George”, so he can review it. Nobody has to remember to do it.

The system can notify users via Slack or email that it’s been completed.

Additionally, users can also customize their processes and workflows easier in Rindle. So, instead of trying to shoehorn your process into an application that dictates the way it thinks you should work, Rindle is much more flexible.

It's visual workflow-driven and the automations are highly customizable.

For example, if you want to notify Slack every time a particular team member is assigned, or when a task reaches a certain step in your workflow, you can easily do this with only a few clicks.

Therefore, you can customize the data flow in your process rather than using a process that the software is telling you to use based on its functionality.

The Data Flow Disconnect

Tracking data in a PM solution, such as tracking tasks—who the task is assigned to, the day it’s due, and so on—are data tracking points. However, flowing that data through a workflow can cause a disconnect.

For example, there are workflow steps or a series of events that have to occur in order for a task or project to be completed. And this is typically where the majority of PM solutions fail, as they lack that crucial workflow element.

As a result, you are still relying on the resource, the team member, the person, the human to remember to complete each step in the process.

In terms of Rindle, my vision of Automations is the use of third-party integrations.

For example, Rindle currently works really well with Zapier. However, our goal and vision is to build a cohesive platform that can work with applications inside and outside of Rindle.

We are taking Rindle to the next level by building in conditionals in the platform. This will make it much more powerful. For example, only when a team member moves a task to a particular list does the next team member take the next three actions.

The PM of Tomorrow

Automations and AI are here, and are hot topics in the industry.

Rindle is definitely headed in that direction. As a result, I believe that the PM of the future is going to be using more automations, possibly in a more of a visual workflow.

For example, instead of building processes (like I used to do…), flowcharts, and Word documents, a PM can build out a flow specific for their type of project or for a certain type of team.

The process itself will become the backbone of how the project flows.

So, rather than focusing on trying to learn a process, team members will be focused more on what I like to call the “automated blueprint”.

Once the blueprint is implemented, the team will become more focused on the work rather than get caught up in what they should do in each step.

This avoids project breakdown.

From where I’m sitting, I believe the PM of the future will no longer have to worry about setting up any kind of flow or notifications.

It will be done for them with only a few clicks. 💥