Leveraging automated workflow to streamline project processes
Effective project management is the key towards successful project execution within any organization. There are several important aspects of a successful project management within an organization and one of the most important is process automation. An effective and robust process automation may result in a faster and smoother project management.
In an organization where the project processes are followed manually, it becomes very cumbersome to handle the project and track information about processes because of scattered data. With advancement in traditional data storage systems, the storage is increasingly moving towards cloud, emails, OneDrive, etc., hence enabling a central process in the organization for project execution.
There are several tools available for process automation, and custom applications can also be developed for specific needs. Microsoft Project – a project management tool solution – enables extensive process using SharePoint designer workflow, Nintex workflow, Microsoft flow.
Project workflow automation
Automated demand management workflow can be built for different project types. By default, Microsoft Project Online provides workflow phases as – create, finish, manage, plan and select. Customized phase and stage for approval can be added according to the organizations’ needs.
Below are few actions and examples which can be automated inside the workflow
- Customized email notification on different stages of the workflow
- Approval task assignment and notification to task owner for the action taken
- Project information can be marked as read-only/required based on project stages and phases
- Using stage gate condition, a checklist for the actions to be performed can be verified before moving to the next phase/stage/
These are only high-level and most generic actions. Specific processes on each stage gate, whether its integration with other system or updating something on the project itself can be performed with the help of the workflow. Configuration based interface provisioning by SharePoint Designer enables quick development of such workflows.
Process automation on project artifacts
Microsoft Project Server/ Project Online offers workspace for each project created that allows to store all the project related information in a consistent manner. There are several workspace-based processes, which can be automated that includes change request management, issue/risk management, action required, document approval process, document retention, among others.
For example, to handle a change request in a project, a customized SharePoint list can be created and using the SharePoint workflow on the change request, approval process of that request from the financial department or stake holder can be implemented.
Microsoft Project Server/ Project Online by default provides the register for risks and issues in project workspace. Risk management process can be built, wherein whenever a risk is added for a specific project, notification emails can be sent to the project owner and the sponsor for approval.
Process can be built when a new issue has been identified and added in the issues register, and task action can be assigned to the owner of the issue and the notification be sent to the project manager.
In this blog post, we discussed generic workflows and processes, which can be easily automated with the help of SharePoint and Project Server workflows. However, process automation with specific requirements like integration with other LOBs, calling any external APIs on project publish, project closure workflow, sending custom email notifications, enabling document approval process up to nth level of approvals and review, can be configured per the need. Using SharePoint Designer for workflow development requires less development and allows focusing more on the process enablement. Microsoft Project Server/ Project Online built on the top of SharePoint leverages all the features of SharePoint and can merge these with its project processes like publish, save, checking, etc., to create more robust processes.
You can learn more about this topic in our upcoming webinar on ‘Streamline your process with Project Online’ on January 9th at 11:00 AM. Register now to view the Recording!