(A)I, the project manager?

The article is written by Mirela Popescu, Manager Ensight Management Consulting, and wishes to provide a summary regarding the potential functionalities AI (Artificial Intelligence) may bring in project management practice

Technology is all around us and has made our lives easier but also impacted the way we work and collaborate and how professions will look like in the future. At its heart, technology and automation is about solving a problem or facilitating a task that can be delegated to machines and algorithms.

Manufacturing industry has witnessed this phenomenon for decades, and now we see that transformation opportunities through automation are incorporated also in the project management area.

As projects become more complex and pressure for rapid delivery increased, project managers need to adapt and adopt on one hand various methodologies, and on the other hand technologies which can perform routine tasks, improve risks predictions, facilitate project reporting and controlling.

How can AI & Technology support the daily activities of a project manager?

Project managers’ role is changing… and this is a result of alteration of business models and companies needs but also technology is playing an important part. The raise of more sophisticated technologies, like AI, machine learning, robots will require a more technology-savvy profile, capabilities to fast learn about new tools, skills to mentor, motivate and engage project resources and stakeholders. For sure the role is changing but project managers are not an endangered species, they will keep the product plates spinning… but with the assistance of technology.

  • Coordination of project execution & delivery of tangible results within the defined timeframe & budget. Tools focused on monitoring & reporting.
  • Conduct project due diligence, provide input towards the project approval process or confirm the strategic value. Tools focused on planning, monitoring&reporting
  • Think and act strategically, manage constantly evolving scope, interface with multiple stakeholders. Tools supporting project communication and documentation.
  • Act of change agent, takes business decision rather than project ones, strong social skills, problem-solving and think out of the box. Tools supporting documentation and knowledge sharing.

How can AI & Technology assist PMs’…

… mostly in managing routine tasks, support in decision making, data aggregation, progress reporting….and potentially much more, but who knows what the future will bring?

  • Scope management. Elaboration of work breakdown structure is a key component in project management as it sets the basis for scheduling, resources allocation and further controlling. AI can be used to reduce the probability of overlooking key activities in WBS.
  • Risk management. Technology already supports risk evaluation & simulation, quantitative analysis, probability distribution. Some projects already benefit by receiving input from various data sources like weather, traffic, shipment notifications and alert PMs about issues before they are evident.
  • Cost management. AI supports multiple cost models and provides comparison functionalities between different models for different cost element. Also, it can facilitate project cost forecasting based on historical data or predict cost deviations based on extra man-hours worked, new activities, etc…
  • Resources management. The hardest part of planning a future project is understanding what resources are available and when. Technology can support match the skills required for the project with the resource availability in the organization or identify the training required.
  • Communication management. Technology can be used to generate and share project dashboards, which gives real-time information & corrections of project courses. Sharing facilitates collective knowledge of the group to spot trends and draw attention to oversights that affect other teams before they become real problems.
  • Collaboration management. Digital assistants like bots (potentially integrated with personal assistants like Siri) can simplify data gathering and provide prompt answers for project managers: expected completion date for a task, resources availability and real time update of task completion percentage.

Collaboration between AI & PMs generates benefits

AI has the capability to transform the project management practice. Even though some of the benefits look today less significant like managing routine tasks, AI has the potential to accumulate, over time, data and knowledge to improve the overall long-term efficiency of project management.

  • Eliminate repetitive tasks. Management of administrative tasks by AI will release time for project managers focus on other aspects like strategy and stakeholder’s management, building effective teams, interpersonal and judgement skills, which will become even more important as AI becomes prevalent in business.
  • Early risk detection. AI can integrate and collect data from various sources thus discovering potential risks which are not visible even for an experienced PM. Such risks can be tackled by PMs as soon as they are detected, prior to pose a threat to the completion or quality of the project.
  • Improved predictability.Based on past projects performance, on what worked and what didn’t well, AI can forecast project’s future by providing early warnings regarding scheduling, budgeting, potential risks. Such functionality can be a lifesaver for young project managers and team members less exposed to PM practice.

Our PM expertise gathered in 19 years of experience

Ensight Management Consulting is one of the most important players on the management consulting market in Romania, by revenue and number of consultants. We have successfully provided Project management services for +800 projects, local and international ones, covering diverse industries: financial services, manufacturing, retail, agribusiness, telecom, oil& gas, energy & utilities, professional services, e-commerce, IT.

  • Strategy: envisioning the future, positioning the business, designing the transformation, supporting M&A’s, restructuring
  • Operations: Marketing&Sales, optimizing supply chains, re-engineering business processes, reducing costs
  • Finance: improving financial flows, evaluating finance and controlling, tax advisory services, accounting services
  • People: transforming Human Resources, managing performance, managing change, developing capabilities
  • Technology: defining IT strategies, IT project management, selecting systems, IT auditing, improving IT operations