How can project managers leverage AI?

Project management is a practice that cannot be excluded from the current activities of any company. Whether you’re working on a construction site, or in software development, you’ve definitely dealt with planning, executing and controlling the work of a team. Although a practical and beneficial process, project management is not without its drawbacks. It can be really time consuming and sometimes it comes at a high financial cost too. Increased complexity and lack of creativity or room for tweaks are also some of the disadvantages often cited.

However, with the advent of artificial intelligence and machine learning some of the challenges of project management can be easily tackled. AI for project management is on the rise and it promises to help teams make smarter decisions.

According to a report published by the Project Management Institute in June 2019, 81% of project managers surveyed stated their organization is being impacted by AI technologies. In addition, results show that the proportion of projects that are managed with AI is expected to jump from 23% to 37% by 2022.

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The survey further reveals six AI technologies that have an effect on organizations around the globe. The following three are currently influencing the largest number of businesses:

·       Knowledge-based systems: Understands the context of the data being processed, helping support human learning and decision making.

·       Machine learning: Analyzes data to build models by detecting patterns, yielding improved decision making with minimal human intervention.

·       Decision management: Creates an intelligent process or set of processes based on rules and logic to automate decision making.

No doubt that project management is one of the practices that will be reshaped by artificial intelligence and will significantly change in the years to come. Let’s have a look at some of the main areas that will be impacted.

Data collection, tracking and reporting

Another report on AI and project management, this time conducted by Gartner, estimates that by 2030, 80% of the tasks involved in project management will be eliminated. Data collection, tracking and reporting are among them.

In project management, data is king. To establish and keep track of the right metrics, project managers need to gather and analyze a lot of data. AI systems are much better at this. These are considerably faster at gathering, analyzing and interpreting information based on certain patterns or desired outcomes. Furthermore, the system can observe the way that a project is moving and make better and more accurate predictions about the future of the project.

Project managers spend a significant amount of time on keeping records and creating reports. By transferring these tasks to an automated AI-based system, it allows for a faster completion of these activities and it enables project managers to focus more on deliverables and other critical parts of project management. In turn, this can lead to saving time and money. And, more importantly, it can lead to more successful projects and more relevant data to analyze for future projects.

Resource management

A key aspect in project management is handling resources. Apart from budgets and software-wise resources, people are the most important factor that contributes to the success of a project. Allocating not only the correct number of members to the team, but also the right individuals can make or break your planning and, ultimately, your project.

Artificial intelligence can automate many of the time-consuming project management tasks

Artificial intelligence can take some of the burden from the project manager and analyze the conditions from the previous projects to provide accurate information on capacity allocation. Based on the results and the real-time evolution of the project, people can be added or removed from the team. This will help you to finally say goodbye to those complicated Excel spreadsheets full of metrics, project availability details and the number of team members. This reduces the time needed to onboard new resources on to new projects. As a result, project delivery is simpler, faster and more transparent.

Using chatbots for task management

According to Gartner, by 2020, more than 50% of medium to large enterprises will have deployed product chatbots. Task management is an area which can be automated using a chatbot especially designed to complete activities such as assigning tasks, getting status updates, identifying and signaling possible bottlenecks and risks. There are already several companies that use these chatbots to reduce the workload for project managers and enable teams to better organize.

Increased productivity and efficiency

Automated activities, better forecasting, fewer issues can all lead to an increase in productivity and efficiency. Earlier in 2018, Gartner predicted that, by 2021, 70% of organizations will increase their employees’ productivity by integrating AI in the workplace.

By saving time on tasks that can be taken over by AI, project managers can focus on innovations and improving the projects and processes.

There is a series of AI-powered project management tools that can be used to enhance the activities project coordinators usually need to perform. A lot of companies are already using them to improve the efficiency of their day-to-day activities and plan better for the near future. We have mentioned some of them below.

Isabella – a friendly chatbot that helps project managers with decision making and problem solving. The virtual assistant is part of Knightspear, an IT project management tool, aimed at analyzing team performance data to suggest improvements. Isabella can also remind project managers of overdue tasks, upcoming important events or unfinished discussions.

Forecast is a tool that uses artificial intelligence to simplify and automate resource & project management in digital agencies. The software is able to make budget and task duration predictions by creating a regression model based on project history.

Aptage - is a tool that offers a valuable support in risk assessment. Aptage uses machine learning to predict the outcomes of projects based on data you already have, such as the planned start and end date of various phases of the project (and, if you have them, estimates about any backlogs) to learn the completion rate of the team and predict the likelihood of delivering on time.

Artificial intelligence is transforming the way organizations work and project management is an important area that is impacted by all these changes in a positive manner. The advantages of adding AI in project management are numerous and they can expand to the entire business production chain. The ideas presented in this article are only a few of the benefits companies and project managers can enjoy by incorporating AI in their daily planning activities.

It is also worth mentioning that AI is not only changing project management, but it is also affecting project managers. Working with new technologies will require a lot of flexibility and openness from those finding themselves in this role. In the future, project managers will spend more time interacting with intelligent machines and will have to offer additional value besides simply managing projects. This is when their cognitive and creative skills need to demonstrate they are an asset for the company.