How to Make Automation (or Project Management Software Tools) Work
In the midst of doing some research for a post on the Flying Into Project Management blog on team interactions, I came across some relevant lessons to this blog on project tools. Specifically, I was looking at how the aviation field makes automation technology work in today's airline cockpits. There were some interesting insights, parallels, and lessons to how organizations can make project management software tools work for project teams.
First of all, what is automation? I am simply referring to technology that automates certain tasks. That could be a number of things such as finding out the current status, identifying problems, generating alerts, seeing where you have been, visualizing the upcoming plan / path, etc., etc.
Automation should have two goals:
- Improve situational awareness (the awareness that one has about the true, real state of the project or portfolio of projects).
- Decrease the workload required to maintain situational awareness.
In other words, our automation tools should always enable us to know what the real state of our projects are, and they should reduce the work that is required for us to know that state.
There are some common responses that people have to automation technology:
- They look at it as helpful (this is a real plus and saves me time).
- They look at it as confusing (what is it doing now?).
- They look at it as unneeded (why do we need this, we've always done it this other way).
That means that automation technology needs to:
- Fulfill a real need.
- Fit seamlessly into a person's / organization's process.
- Be easy enough to earn a person's trust.
In a follow-up post, I will discuss some practical lessons as to how to make automation technology work in light of these insights. Please note that much of this insight came from the source www.crewresourcemanagement.net.