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Is Artificial Intelligence Accelerating Project Management or Replacing Project Managers?

Project Managers are getting mesmerized by the unique ability of AI to monitor patterns and work efficiently to assist in regular iterative tasks. AI systems are now stepping up to handle the less critical tasks for the project managers, saving time by fifty percent.

Is Artificial Intelligence Accelerating Project Management or Replacing Project Managers?

Being a Project Management Professional in good standing for almost a decade, I thought of exploring the role of Artificial Intelligence in my own area of Practice. But before delving into the nitty-gritty of the most exponentially growing technology of the current era and its role in project management, I thought to first enrich my readers with clarity on what does Project Management deal with and what does a Project encompass.


For more technology insights, follow me @Asamanyakm


Project management is the practice of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria within the specified time frame. In other words, it is the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experience to achieve specific project objectives according to the project acceptance criteria within agreed parameters. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all the goals that are constrained to a finite timescale and budget.


A project is a unique, progressively elaborative, transient endeavor, undertaken to achieve planned objectives, which could be defined in terms of outputs, outcomes or benefits and is domain or industry independent. A project is usually deemed to be a success if it achieves the objectives according to its acceptance criteria, within an agreed timescale and budget. The crucial factor distinguishing project management from just 'management' is that it has a final deliverable and a finite timespan, unlike management which is an ongoing process. Therefore, a project professional needs a wide range of skills; which extends but is not limited to technical skill, domain expertise, good communication and people management skill along with sharp business acumen and foresight.


The practice of project management evolved as a methodology to manage a team of human resources towards a finite goal. In order to manage a project successfully, a project manager needs to efficiently manage time, budget, scope and quality along with the people on task. Project managers are expected not only to manage multiple teams, but also handle multiple projects simultaneously. Often these related projects are integrated for achieving a common bigger goal and managed as a program. The field of project management encompasses intense dynamism, which necessitates figuring out easier and efficient ways of reaching project goals.  Creating a smoother process is certainly helping project managers to produce better outcomes as well as to coach individual resources more effectively.


In pursuit of enhancing project management methodologies, processes, tools and technologies, project managers are embarking upon Artificial Intelligence to handle everything from scheduling to analyzing the patterns of a working team, staying within budget to controlling the scope and providing suggestions. Going forward AI is going to be more tightly integrated with project management tools and techniques, so that projects continue to derive multi-fold benefits.


Artificial Intelligence Augments Project Management


Organizations across industries are increasingly embracing AI and making this powerful technology an integral part of the project management processes. The primary objectives of these enterprises are to make projects more strategic and to utilize the data created by these processes in a much smarter way. AI is helping organizations in various project management status quo such as Project Documentation, QA and QC Activities, AI-based data visualization to identify bottlenecks and areas where process improvements are necessary or figure out other changes that can be applied to improve overall performance. In fact, the mavens of technology, as well as project management, are drawing efficiencies through AI implementation in projects.


A very important and yet often overlooked project area that is being effectively addressed by AI systems is follow-through. Artificially intelligent systems are found to be more than efficient in handling project schedules, sending out reminders and performing follow-ups, thereby eliminating the need for human input. This is one of the many effective ways in which the AI systems are capable of saving time and effort of human resources by ensuring that none of the tasks, mostly iterative in nature, are ignored or missed. These AI systems integrate with popular communication tools like Slack, WebEx as well as project management tools like JIRA, QuickBase, Pivotal Tracker to create a more efficient process when it comes to getting tasks done in a timely manner and delivered with the required quality. Technology leaders are developing AI-based applications which can be integrated with the project management environment. The AI apps are being empowered with capabilities to send out a notification to resources reminding for following up on emails, act on a deliverable nearing its due date, prepare for an upcoming quality audit, etc.


Project Managers are getting mesmerized by the unique ability of AI to monitor patterns and work efficiently to assist in regular iterative tasks. They spend an ample amount of time on administrative activities such as handling check-ins, updates and approvals. AI systems are now stepping up to handle the less critical tasks for the project managers, reducing time spent on important tasks by fifty percent. This time saving is noteworthy, thereby allowing Project Managers to concentrate more on the complex processes behind their management strategy. It also enables them to spend more time with their team members, which can, in turn, help them to empower their teams and find further efficient ways of doing project work. There is nothing that will slow a project down more than a project manager who struggles to manage the time to speak to every single team member and pay attention to their need. With the time saved using AI-enabled project management systems, these managers can focus more on what is significant for the success of the project. Freeing up a substantial amount of time in a day is not only a great way to help projects move along more efficiently, but it goes a long way to create a more contented work environment where employees feel supported and know that they have the appropriate resources in place for maintaining the good health of the project.


The primary benefit of implementing AI tools in projects when it comes to team members is the fact that they can save time on regular tedious tasks. For most employees, a significant amount of time goes into record keeping, reporting, and various other remedial tasks. Lift and shift of these kinds of processes onto AI systems is an effective way to free up time so that employees can focus better on their deliverables. This also makes the entire project management process more efficient, which can, in turn, save on time and budget by allowing employees to work on the tasks that really matter for delivery.


Predictive Analytics Playing a Major Role in Project Management 


From medium to large enterprises, AI is being considered a prized asset from the business efficiency perspective due to its ability to manage complex analytics. An AI-empowered project management system enables project managers to observe the way that a project is moving and make qualitative as well as quantitative predictions about the future of the project. While human resources are more likely to get caught focusing on their own problems and may overlook certain shifts in the project because they are not gauging them directly, AI has the ability to watch all of the moving parts and then make valuable predictions based on what it is observing. AI system is capable of monitoring project budgets and scheduling, and over time it can learn to identify potential impacts to these processes. 


A more powerful potential with AI is its ability to monitor human beings and make predictions based on the patterns that it sees. AI system can observe projects as well as individual team member behavior. It can pick up on certain habits and nuances with team members that might be otherwise ignored. The system is designed in a way that it makes it possible for artificial intelligence to recognize when something is occurring that is likely to lead to scheduling conflicts and makes it possible to offer up suggestions on alternate completion dates if the scheduling is moving off track. It also means that the system may be able to help offer personalized coaching for employees based on learned habits. These systems might even someday be able to account for the conflicts with a remote employee working in a different time zone and make qualified adjustments on that basis. These systems can go so far as to identify when someone is doing something out of compliance, which opens them to the possibility of identifying potential instances of fraud and other kinds of issues that might arise.


As time goes by, it is likely that AI-enabled project management systems will be able to make the science of human behavior more tangible in various ways. A system that can analyze every aspect of a project including moves of team members, is likely to be more reliable in predicting actions or potential needs than an individual person might be. AI holds the key to helping corporates understand the distinctive shades that are likely to come with individuals who are working with their own patterns. In the same way, AI can identify a user profile for a customer and act accordingly, these systems can help provide customized aid to employees working on a project, as well as project managers. In totality, the potential benefits of inducting AI into the project management status quo are massively significant and project managers too are embracing the impactful technology after being convinced that AI is empowering their practice and not displacing their jobs.


For more technology insights, follow me @Asamanyakm


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