Artificial Intelligence (AI) is causing ripples in the business world. In it, some are finding big opportunities to achieve greater height while others see it as a big threat. To those who are excited by its capacity to transform business, reduce cost and increase efficiency, it is the best thing to have ever happened in the world of technology. To those who feel threatened by its discovery and development; business and world, in general, will never be the same again. They are crying foul, machines are invading their territory and soon the world may be taken over by these gadgets.
Just by a look at the kind of investments companies are putting in development of AI, it is enough to tell that this is going to be big and the full effects of this technology have not been experienced yet. McKinsey, a global management consulting firm observed that a total of $ 40 billion was invested in Artificial Intelligence in 2016. This is a huge investment by any standard, one that shows businesses can ignore this technology at own peril. Project management as an area has not been left behind. To assist project management teams to sail through the transition, this article proposes ways which can harness the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning in projects.
Apart from the robots, gadgets which characterize most of the manufacturing industry, use of AI has extended to sales and marketing. With some of the already available tools, marketing teams can get feedback and design follow up steps. This type of artificial technology can be embraced by the project team. It involves detecting patterns and providing the user with possible scenarios which can be explored. The beauty of this is these tools are proven and are readily available and any organization can implement at a minimal cost.
Interpretation of project data
Data interpretation is one of the biggest challenges that face project managers, its sheer volume and the urgency at which decisions need to be made within a project environment means that the process will be affected. With AI, half if not two-thirds of this problem is solved. Based on the available data, the system can prompt project managers to take measures which will improve project delivery.
The system can provide information on when a particular skill is required, inform when some supplies are required among other tasks which may take a long time to complete when AI is not available. Experts see a promising future of AI in project management, already there are some project planning software being developed to enable automatic resource assignment, give feedback, offer real-time data and solutions among others.
When all these are combined with predictive analytics it will be easy to identify risks and opportunities and take the necessary measures, therefore, increasing success in project delivery.
In an article written by Oliver Yarbrough, an expert in Artificial Intelligence Project Management, the following areas in projects were laid out as ready for automation. Requirements collection, budgeting, resource planning, risk analysis, monitoring and evaluation, quality control and response planning.
These are some of the tasks that project managers normally find time-consuming and most have confessed that they do not like them as they are just routines. Any project manager would welcome any takeover of these tasks by machines. It is widely accepted that they are necessary, in fact, crucial in the success of a project but they consume most of the project manager's time. Automating them would free up the project manager's time allowing concentration on other tasks. In the long run, the time required to complete the project would be reduced drastically.
Although AI can increase efficiency as far as performance of some tasks within a project is concerned, those project managers fearing job loss or being rendered redundant, should not worry as evidence shows that there are some areas that AI will struggle. These areas include some of the most important tasks in a project, those that highly dictate the direction which a project takes.
Talk of leadership, negotiation, communication, emotional intelligence, and public speaking. All these areas will require humans as they have the capacity. In fact, as one expert pointed out, project managers should be happy that AI is taking over the boring stuff in project management. Very few people finding fun staring on a plan or a budget spreadsheet for close to three hours; this is a time that can be used in building a relationship with team members and key stakeholders.
AI in project management may be at its entry or initial stages but it is here to stay, project teams need to embrace it rather than see it as the enemy, the system will take their jobs. Far from it, AI is coming to enhance project delivery, increasing efficiency and making the whole process enjoyable.
Developing AI literacy
Given that we are just witnessing the beginning of bigger things that AI promises, we need to embrace it, get ready and if possible enjoy it. We can start by developing our literacy in this area. Doing this not only helps us incorporate the technology in project management activities but also builds our competitive advantages as managers. We will be in high demand when clients who are seeking for AI literate project managers come knocking. The following steps as recommended by one AI project management expert can help along these lines.
- Learning the terms and jargons
- Selection of a small goal to work on: This ensures that you remain focused and motivated
- Get feedback from the experts, this can either be an in-house professional or an external consultant.
- Share what you have learned with other team members; this helps you gauge your level of understanding and also impart the much-needed knowledge and skills to your team.
As a project manager, AI presents more opportunities than challenges, embrace it and you will see significant changes in the way you run and deliver a project. As they say, you cannot stop an idea whose time is ripe, its AI time and all that we can do it let it flow.