The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as ‘the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements’.
Project management had always been practised informally but has recently emerged as a formal profession due to the demand for specific skills and domain knowledge required for project management.
Today, project management has come a long way. Long enough to warrant discussions about the impact that Artificial Intelligence (you can’t escape it) could have on the domain. By now, most industries have accepted that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are not dystopian nightmarish technologies that will steal their jobs but are in fact amazingly useful.
Artificial Intelligence engenders productivity by automation of mundane routine tasks (which previously consumed a huge chunk of time) and allows managers to focus on things such as analysis, decision making, and providing insight. Which is incidentally what they were hired for. It has opened up a brave new world for managers, especially for Project Managers.
Project management is an extremely dynamic function. It involves more than simply planning the phases in advance because once the execution of the phases starts, there is a multitude of external and internal variables that come into play. Project Managers generally plan the schedule, estimate cost of resources and then monitor the deployment of personnel and tasks. There are changes, updates and rescheduled tasks at every stage of a project because of the ever-changing business environment.
This is how Artificial Intelligence can come in and revamp Project Management.
- Improve Learning Capabilities in Project Management
AI could potentially be used for deploying the right person for the right project. Depending on employees’ past performance in different projects, Machine Learning could ascertain the suitability of their selection for a particular project, keeping in mind their specific skills and strengths. In addition to this, by taking into account external factors that are difficult to predict, the use of AI can improve completion rates significantly. Project Managers can use this knowledge to estimate the kind of roadblocks and possible setbacks the project could face in its normal path. It improves the learning capabilities of both the team members and the Project Managers on how best to go about a project the next time.
- Data Accuracy
Many teams have trouble maintaining data for their projects in a systematic and structured manner. More often than not, there are gaping holes in the data entered by teams into their project management software. The result is an incomplete, unstructured mess of data. Artificial Intelligence can fill in these data gaps. Eventually, they can prompt users to adopt better data entry practices and work with them to improve the quality of data entered.
- Early Problem-Detection
Many times a project may be derailed due to a small problem that puts a spanner in the works. It may be that somehow the possibility of such a problem slipped the minds of the team members as well as the Project Managers; they are only human, after all. Artificial Intelligence employs metadata and data analytics to predict problems based on external variables as well as on past performance and behaviour of team members in similar projects. Thus the Project Managers receive detailed knowledge on the kind of obstacles/roadblocks that the project is likely to face. They can take the appropriate measures to tackle the same in the early stages or to obviate the need to confront these obstacles altogether.
- Better Communication
This is not a direct impact of the use of AI in project management but is a by-product. As routine, non-essential tasks are automated, Project Managers can direct their powers of persuasion where they’re really needed: in better, more effective communication with team members, employees and project stakeholders. Project stakeholders do not want to be reassured by a chatbot spewing a pre-written script. Nor do team members want to be given a pep talk by a humanoid robot. The fact remains that human qualities such as empathy, emotional intelligence, diplomacy, and communication will remain significant for ages to come. And it’s the job of a project manager, or any manager, to embody these qualities and add value to the organization by doing so.
- Improve Assessments to Identify Risks
In Supply Chain Management, AI is being used to provide real-time tracking updates on drivers and tasks. Any shipping errors or discrepancies are visible in advance and can be handled better. AI can do the same for project management. Clickup is a recently launched project management tool whose algorithms can revise time estimates and predict deadlines that won’t be met. Basically, Project Managers could receive a checklist of risks that could potentially arise, giving Project Managers ample time to assess the scenarios and devise solutions for the same.
- Improve Productivity
Positive transformation is all about productivity. Improved learning, reduced idle time, and automation of routine tasks all add up to the improvement of productivity of the entire workforce or team. AI-driven solutions such as harmon.ie sort through communication across various channels and consolidate relevant information from all your apps. Team members will do more in less time, and they will do it better. With increased knowledge and risk aversion techniques available at their disposal, Project Managers will also be able to be more productive, provide better insights, and deliver better quality projects to the company.
- Taking Over Administrative Tasks
Project management AI will be instrumental in removing the mundane, routine tasks from a project manager’s itinerary. Instead, it will automate these tasks, and administrate without the need for human input. By removing these administrative tasks, Project Managers can add more value to the project and get more work done at the same time.
It is apparent that Artificial Intelligence has an immense scope for application in project management. We have seen the benefits that it can bring to Project Managers as well as team members by reducing the time taken and improving productivity. AI could serve as powerful virtual assistants to Project Managers in the form of chatbots such as Dialogflow. Apps such as Forecast and Clarizen help them learn from their mistakes, avoid common pitfalls, and improve the quality of projects. What’s more, it allows for a greater focus on the human aspects of project management. One wonders if all the AI skeptics and naysayers are simply opposed to a progressive way of working.