A 2019 Project Management Institute survey confirms that artificial intelligence (AI) disruption is happening—81% of the 551 survey respondents report their organization is being impacted by AI technologies. AI is here, but what does it all actually mean for project managers? How will project management software incorporate AI?
Below, we’ll discuss what AI is, how it works in project management software, and why it’s beneficial, not threatening, to you as a project manager. We’ll also dive into AI-enhanced resource scheduling as an example of how the programming technique can make your work life better by suggesting accurate and informed project teams and schedules.
What is AI?
AI is an umbrella term for any technique that mimics human intelligence, such as natural language processing, machine learning, and pattern recognition and management.
Gartner defines artificial intelligence (AI) as the application of advanced analysis and logic-based techniques, including machine learning, to interpret events, support and automate decisions, and take actions. A person provides the core information, or “intelligence,” and the AI can then apply that logic to pretty much an endless amount of data.
But the power of AI is in its ability to apply human intelligence without the biological and emotional burden real people have. AI doesn’t need to rest, won’t get distracted, and can interpret millions of points of information simultaneously. But it is limited to only performing very specific rules-based, repetitive tasks. Anything involving nuance tends not to perform well or even just fail.
Will project managers be replaced by AI?
Not a chance. AI is a work augmentation tool, not a human replacement. AI cannot manage a project, even a pretty small one, on its own. Like we said above, AI is pretty terrible at performing nuanced tasks. So your tedious status reports and messy resource scheduling could be greatly improved with AI, but it can’t gather requirements or get stakeholder buy-in.
Your job as an influential and effective project manager is safe.
If you’re afraid of robots taking over the world, or even just replacing you as a project manager, check out this TEDTalk with Janelle Shane about how weird AI is right now. She discusses how an AI program thinks human fingers are part of a fish since it mainly only sees pictures of people holding them up.
Janelle Shane sharing an example of the shortcomings of AI (Source)
5 Benefits of artificial intelligence in project management
Aggregating task statuses to generate weekly status reports, calculating the budget implication of increasing scope and timeline, and performing risk modeling are all functions an AI technique can offer in your project management software.
Here are a few more benefits of an AI-enhanced PM tool:
1. Automate repetitive, tedious tasks so you can spend more time on problem-solving
Gartner predicts that in 2021, AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity. No one loves spending hours on tedious, repetitive tasks, which is probably why AI adoption is gaining traction.
2. Use historical data to perform calculations and predictions, improving the accuracy of the results
AI will always refer to previous project results to inform predictions and calculations, if programmed to. A person might only go back one project or lack access to the results from other projects to use as reference.
3. Perform risk modeling and analysis based on changes to scope, available resources, reduced budget, etc.
This is especially useful as Agile project management methods continue to dominate the way projects are run. There are always going to be unforeseen changes, and AI will be able to tell you the expected impact based on how similar changes impacted previous projects.
4. Increase speed of decision-making with process-based rules
AI is programmed to follow only specific, rule-based workflows. This means roadblocks and bottlenecks can be quickly addressed when the AI is monitoring and sending notifications about task statuses and updates.
5. Optimize resource scheduling and allocation
This is a great strength of AI, so let’s take a deeper dive into how this works:
Figuring out who is needed to perform certain tasks for a project, if they’re available, and how long they’re needed for are all tough questions. But if you’re able to load the necessary information into an AI-enhanced project management tool, it can suggest the best possible allocation of resources for your project.
How, you ask? AI can:
- Assess the type of resources the project needs based on the tasks required, such as time to build a custom workflow and then perform quality assurance testing.
- Use historical data to calculate the length of time for tasks.
- Reference a database of people and their skills and select the best person for the tasks required.
- Review the work and time-off schedules of all the people available to work on a project.
- Estimate how many tasks an individual could complete when compared to their weekly report of productivity.
- Compare the proposed resource schedule against historical data to identify inconsistencies and improve the accuracy of the proposal.
- Propose the best possible schedule of resources with the team available.
AI can save you from the frustration, roadblocks, and uncertainty of doing all these steps on your own. But only if the system is kept up to date and the information it has is correct.
What’s been your experience with AI in project management? Or even just in life? Do you agree that it’ll make the project manager’s life better? Tweet me @AnalystOlivia. I’d love to hear from you!
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