Can Project Management Be Automated?

By Amber Felton on Jun 3

If you're dealing with project management, then you know how important it is to carefully plan, communicate clearly, and stay flexible to make sure your project succeeds. Project management comes with a lot of different nuances - setting realistic deadlines, managing resources, handling risks, communicating with team members and stakeholders, and more. It can be a lot for any one person to handle. But that's where project management automation comes in.

Project management has certainly come far from traditional methods of manual scheduling and hand-drawn Gantt charts. Advancements in technology have introduced ways to streamline project management from the planning phases to execution and beyond. It started out with project management software and cloud-based tools, but now automation is taking over. While the idea of fully automating project management is still out of reach, you can still automate many tasks relating to project management, thus allowing you to focus on more strategic aspects of your work, such as problem-solving and team empowerment.

Below we'll discuss some of the realities of project management automation, including what you can automate in your project management workflows, the benefits and limitations of automation in project management, concerns around AI, and successful automation examples.

What Can Be Automated in Project Management?

As a project manager, you likely know all the legwork that goes into managing projects. From mundane tasks like scheduling meetings and updating task lists to more complicated responsibilities such as risk assessment and stakeholder communication, project management requires a lot of time and effort from you and your team. Although not everything in project management can be automated yet, thankfully, many time-consuming tasks can be.

Project management automation examples

Here are just a few examples of what you can automate in your next project management workflow:

  • Onboarding: Have a new team member that you need to onboard and train? It can take forever to get them up to speed. Automate the process by providing them with access to relevant project resources, documentation, and training materials.
  • Scheduling: It can be difficult to navigate different schedules to plan meetings, deadlines, and milestones. Set predefined criteria and availability to handle your scheduling needs.
  • Task assignments: If you have a big team, assigning tasks can be daunting. Enter predefined rules about skill sets, workload, and project priorities, and let automation assign tasks for you.
  • Follow-ups: Missing an important deadline can really set your project back. Use automation tools to send automated reminders and notifications to remind your team about upcoming deadlines, overdue tasks, and pending approvals.
  • Document approvals: Automation tools can also streamline document approvals. Automate the routing of your documents to the appropriate stakeholders so that they can review and approve them in time.
  • Project metrics: Metrics are how you improve your workflows, but it can be a pain to comb through all the data manually. Automation tools can collect project metrics automatically across various sources, such as task management systems, time-tracking software, and project documentation.
  • Reports: Once the data is collected, automation can be used to generate standardized reports, dashboards, and visualizations.

What Are the Benefits of Automation in Project Management?

So, we've discussed the things you can automate in your project management workflows, but what are the benefits of using automation? There are several. First, and most notably, is increased efficiency. You and your team will spend less time doing manual work.

Project management automation benefits

Manual work is also often prone to human error, so automating certain tasks, especially those that involve data, can reduce the risk of errors. Tasks like data entry and administrative work are often time-consuming. So, by automating these tasks, you'll be freeing up time that you and your team can spend elsewhere, such as with strategic planning and decision-making efforts.

Another benefit of project management automation is consistency and reliability. Automation uses standardized processes and relies on redefined parameters, resulting in a consistent and reliable workflow.

Other benefits include:

  • Better resource allocation by analyzing data and assigning resources where they're most needed.
  • Increased scalability by automating processes and allowing projects to grow or shrink smoothly.
  • Improved collaboration by providing tools for easy communication and sharing of information.
  • Better data security by introducing safeguards like encryption and access controls.

What Are the Limitations of Automation in Project Management?

But what are the limitations? Why can't project management be fully automated?

Project management automation limitations

Automation lacks a few important human touches: intuition, emotion, and interpersonal connection. Technology also comes with its fair share of bugs, which could lead to disruptions, delays, and compromises. That's why, if you're relying on automation, you should always have a backup plan.

You also need to think about customization and flexibility. Your projects are all unique with different requirements, so they may need specific plans that fit their needs and can change easily if things don't go as expected. Unfortunately, and especially with newer automation tools, you won't always get the flexibility and customization that you need.

Other limitations include:

  • Communication issues, such as misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
  • Unrealistic expectations, such as reliance on technology and an expectation that it will solve all project management challenges.
  • Data management problems, such as inaccuracies, loss of data, or difficulties retrieving information.
  • Misalignment in stakeholder needs, such as failing to address stakeholder requirements, resulting in dissatisfaction or conflicts.

Other Concerns About Project Management Automation

Besides the limitations just discussed, there are other concerns you should keep in mind. Many have valid concerns that AI tools will replace human workers and cause the loss of jobs. But instead of taking this route, you should be using AI and automation tools alongside your human workers to help them be more efficient and productive in their work. Remember, automation and AI tools cannot take the place of real human experience and insight.

Plus, what about AI and privacy? How do these tools handle and protect sensitive information? With so many people concerned about their data being accessed online, it's important that you use tools that have strong privacy measures in place.

If you use any sort of AI in your business, including automation tools, be transparent about these concerns.

Examples of Project Management Tools with Automation Features

Several online project management tools offer automation features. Here are a few options: Known for its user-friendly interface and visual approach, offers a robust automation engine. You can automate tasks, send notifications, and create custom workflows to streamline your projects.

ClickUp: This all-in-one project management solution includes built-in automation functionalities. ClickUp allows you to automate assigning tasks, setting deadlines, and managing project statuses.

Zapier: While not strictly a project management tool itself, Zapier acts as a powerful automation tool that integrates with many project management platforms. This allows you to create custom automations across different tools, further streamlining your workflows.

Wrike: This popular work management platform offers a variety of automation features, including automatic notifications, task routing, and custom workflows. Wrike also integrates with Zapier for even more powerful automation possibilities.

Asana: Asana offers a solid automation toolkit, including automatic task creation, assigning due dates, and project progress tracking. While not as robust as some other options on this list, Asana's automations can still be helpful for streamlining basic workflows.

How Will Automation Shape Project Management?

Automation is already making significant strides in various sectors. In fact, when surveyed, 21% of surveyed individuals from PMI claimed to be using AI in their projects, while 82% of senior leaders say AI will have some impact on projects. But what does the future look like for project management automation?

Project management automation statistics

Whether you think it's good or bad, automation and AI tools are likely here to stay. While these technologies can be a tricky subject for some, it's all about embracing them and using them with your employees rather than using them to replace your employees. With that said, it's likely that project management will see more advancement in AI and automation tools in the coming years. These tools will continue to advance the ways we predict outcomes and make decisions.

Even for you, as a project manager, automation will change your role. But instead of being lost in the waves, you need to learn to ride them. Embrace automation as an aid to become more efficient and effective in your project management practices. With automation tools at your side, you can spend less time on time-consuming tasks and more time on important decisions and working with your team to steer your project to success.

Balancing Automation in Project Management

The future of automation in project management looks promising. As project managers, it's important that you embrace automation while remaining adaptable and strategic. As you use automation tools, you'll find that you can optimize your workflows, drive better project outcomes, and stay on par with your competition. But automation and AI will never truly replace human intuition and emotion, so it's important to find a balance between using these new technologies and relying on human input and creativity within your projects.

Projects and tasks

If you're looking to embrace automation in your next project or if you're just looking for a simple, no-hassle project management tool, check out Breeze. Our 14-day free trial will let you see exactly what we have to offer and how our suite of tools can help your next project succeed.