The Road to Automation is Paved with ROI

Posted by Amy Champigny on April 6, 2020

Automation PMI White Paper 2020

By Amy Champigny, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Deltek

Innovation is at the heart of project management. From constructing the world’s largest buildings to sending rockets into space, project management is about breaking new ground. However, in today’s rapidly shifting environment where the pace and scope of change is ever increasing, the metrics for measuring project success have moved beyond solely meeting time, scope, and budgetary constraints and are now centered around delivering business outcomes - ensuring the business objectives that supported the project investment are achieved. So, how can project managers keep up with this change and optimize the return on investment (ROI) gained by leveraging the most effective tools possible? It all starts with automation.

What Is Automation?

Gartner recently estimated that 80% of today’s project management tasks will be eliminated by artificial intelligence (AI) within the next ten years.

For the purpose of this discussion, automation refers to the use of technology to reduce or eliminate some of the low value, manual work that project teams have to manage. The intention is not to replace project managers or project management offices (PMO). In fact, relieving project managers of these day-to-day tasks affords them to opportunity to reinvest the time saved to focus on project leadership, making strategic decisions to overcome challenges and deliver business outcomes proactively.

While there are many opportunities to leverage automation throughout the project delivery process, there are three areas in particular where companies can gain the most ground quickly.  

#1 Workflow Automation

Regardless of industry, there are multiple points of collaboration throughout project delivery and every project produces some type of document that requires review and sign-off. What happens next? Vast amounts of time gets wasted chasing these reviews and approvals. Utilizing software not only supports collaboration while work is being produced, but can then automatically handle distribution and prompt individuals who have not completed their tasks. Workflow automation also provides visibility into the current status to prevent important tasks and approvals from being missed. 

While workflow automation has clear benefits for project managers, it also helps stakeholders and team members by providing a ‘one stop shop’ for approving or reviewing information. This ability to integrate tools and systems eliminates errors and reduces the amount of time needed to complete work, resulting in greater compliance and more successful delivery.

#2 Screening and Gatekeeping

Screening and gatekeeping offers another opportunity to improve the effectiveness of project execution. When considering something like intake, automation software allows PMOs to implement consistent rules and requirements that ensure accurate and complete submissions, while also eliminating the need for manual follow-ups, duplication of effort and errors. This means that information can be placed in the hands of the right people sooner. As a result, project leaders have more time to strategically focus on analysis and areas of risk within their projects and programs.

#3 Self-serve Support

The third place you can start to automate is information sharing. While workflow automation can handle the distribution of project status reports, today’s stakeholders expect to be able to access information in a way that is relevant for them. Integrating automation into modern project management solutions means PMO resources and project managers no longer need to manually produce reports. Instead, on-demand reports can be configured in a way that provides the information that is relevant for each stakeholder and automatically delivered at key intervals.

Beginning Your Automation Journey

While the three areas outlined illustrate options for automation, there are plenty of others throughout the project lifecycle. It comes down to prioritization and execution. So, how do project teams go about implementing an automation strategy and how can you ensure savings are invested in the most effective way? Start by evaluating your business today. Ask lots of questions. Which tasks consume the most time? And, which are the ones that cause the most frustration among project stakeholders? Where are there blind spots, gaps, and road blocks? Systematically analyze and objectively assess your current manual processes for automation opportunities. You will be shocked at the number of chances you have to improve project delivery by automating repetitive tasks.

Once the current environment is understood you can prioritize the types of automation needed and will then be ready to evaluate solutions. Automation will quickly pay for itself in a short period of time. It will enable key resources to refocus on adding even more value to the business. Look for a partner that meets the following criteria:

  • Has automation built in as part of core project and portfolio management (PPM) functionally
  • Has the ability to integrate with the rest of your enterprise technology infrastructure
  • Has a broad and deep understanding of project delivery
  • Has the focus and intention to grow and evolve with your business

Strategically selecting a partner may be a lengthier exercise, but the benefits will outweigh those efforts. That is what will make a difference in your organization’s long-term success in implementing automation and driving stronger business outcomes.

To learn more about why automation is crucial for organizations to keep up with today’s rapidly evolving, competitive environment and tips and tricks for your automation journey watch the on-demand webinar Automation - An Absolute Must for Today’s PMO and download the newly published Deltek-sponsored Project Management Institute (PMI) Automate Your Way to Success - Or Fail Manually white paper.

About the Author

Amy Champigny is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at Deltek who works with government contractors, architecture & engineering firms, and consulting firms around the world. Amy helps improve their business processes through technology and thought leadership with resources like Deltek Clarity and Deltek's leading project-based software solutions. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.