Everyone knows that a good project manager must have solid leadership skills. These include the fundamentals such as excellent communication, time management and the ability to influence.
But in order to be truly effective, they must also be able to implement repeatable processes that take the projects they manage from conception to completion. This might include establishing processes for sign-off when deliverables are completed so that the next team can begin work on the subsequent phase of a project, timely notification of project status changes, and cross team engagement in larger more intricate projects.
Projects depend on processes like these. However, they are often operated manually, which can increase the risk of human error, among other consequences.
In this post, we will look at:
- Automation in the modern workplace
- The difference between processes and projects
- The benefits of project automation
- How Nintex Workflow Cloud can help
Process vs. Project Automation: What’s the Difference?
Today, automation is everywhere.
Many companies automate their marketing – systematically sending out content to people who land on their websites in order to nurture these leads and transform them into sales. Likewise, HR departments use automation to speed up a wide range of important processes, such as employee recruitment, onboarding new starters and distributing tax forms.
Another example is document approval – where an organization uses automated processes to ensure that documents, emails and other records are stored in the right places for ease-of-access and compliance purposes.
In all the examples above, there is a repeatable task involved, which makes it a process. Every time a new employee arrives on their first day, for instance, they are given the same information, go through the same onboarding documents and fill out the same forms. A process is something that is performed time and again on an ongoing basis and can be carried out by many different people across an organization.
Every time a new employee arrives on their first day, for instance, they are given the same information, go through the same onboarding documents and fill out the same forms. A process is something that is performed on an ongoing basis and can be carried out by many different people across an organization.
On the other hand, a project is something that creates something new or implements a change. It is therefore very rarely repeatable or ongoing. It has a start date and an end date – and when it is completed the team moves onto another project with different content, people and timelines.
That doesn’t mean it can’t be automated – it certainly can, and should!
The Benefits of Project Automation
Many organizations tend not to think about projects as something that they can automate.
As more and more move towards automating workflows, they tend to focus only on smaller, day-to-day processes. But projects can be automated too, and in the most cases, the benefits of automating these unstructured processes are significant.
For instance, processes are needed for phase management.
Projects are usually made up of phases – building a website will involve a series of different phases including planning, copy, design, development, and testing. Phase management is the supervision of these different stages. Each phase of a project will have certain deliverables – often referred to as “gates” – that need to be completed before the next phase can begin.
Project managers need processes to establish when these deliverables have been met and signed off by key stakeholders. What’s more, if stakeholders are out of the office or out of the country, then processes need to be established so that work can be signed off and the next phase of the project can begin.
The last thing anyone wants is disgruntled employees sitting around waiting for their turn to start working, simply because you couldn’t get the sign-off required in time.
By overlooking project automation, organizations are missing out on several of key benefits, including:
- Boosting productivity and efficiency
- Removing human error
- Eliminating risk
- Saving time
- Reducing employees’ workloads
- Freeing up resources
Employees are more productive when they spend their day using the skills they were employed to use. Manual processes often provide a barrier to this – engaging highly skilled employees in repetitive, menial and administrative tasks.
Where people once feared that ‘automation’ meant the first steps in a robot apocalypse, in reality, automation has been far more mundane, yet highly useful for organizations across all sectors. What has materialized instead is an efficient workforce unburdened by the automation of processes that had previously distracted them from carrying out core work.
Some organizations decide against automating projects because they believe it will be too much work to set up in the beginning. Why spend precious time and effort worrying about workflow automation at such a critical stage?
However, it’s clear that, with a little bit of work up front, project managers can unlock a myriad of potential advantages and vastly improve efficiency down the line.
It’s time for more project managers to embrace automation.
How Nintex Workflow Cloud Can Help
At Nintex, we suggest running Nintex Workflow Cloud to automate projects and increase productivity at your organization.
On top of this, the Nintex Workflow Cloud connectors allow you to integrate with popular cloud services, project management tools and content stores, such as SharePoint Online, Slack and Box, while our Xtensions Framework allows you to connect other legacy or homegrown systems that power your business.
You can read more about the benefits in a previous blog post of ours, here.