AI In Project Management

AI for Project Management PIXABAY

Ever since humans have had people and projects to manage, we’ve had challenges keeping the projects on time, on budget, and people on task. The field and industry of project management emerged as a way to manage a collection of people towards an end goal. For project managers, it is commonplace to be managing not only multiple teams, but also multiple projects at the same time. These projects often must come together towards a bigger goal. For a field that is known for having lots of moving parts, finding ways to make the process easier and more efficient is a primary goal. By creating a smoother process, project managers can turn out outcomes that are more reliable and can even help coach individual employees more effectively. Artificial intelligence is increasingly finding its way into project management tools and technology to handle everything from scheduling to analyzing the patterns of a working team and offering suggestions. These augmented tools make AI an obvious benefit to project managers going forward.

Intelligent Project Management Assistance

Artificial intelligence is being used to help with project organization on a collection of fronts. AI systems can effectively handle scheduling, reminders, and follow-ups to eliminate the need for human input. This is one of many effective ways that these systems are capable of saving humans time on their various efforts by helping to make sure that nothing is overlooked. These systems integrate with popular communication tools like Slack as well as project management tools like JIRA to make for a more efficient process when it comes to getting matters resolved. In the not-too-distant future, you can expect an AI bot to send you a notification reminding you to follow-up on an email or that a deliverable is approaching its due date. 

AI, with its unique ability to monitor patterns, is a capable assistant to project managers.. Studies have shown that project managers spend more than half of their time on administrative tasks such as dealing with check-ins and managing updates. AI bots are capable of stepping up and handling these less intensive tasks for the project manager with current systems cutting time spent on busywork in half. This is a significant time saver, which allows for project managers to focus more on the complex processes behind their management strategy. It also enables them to spend more time focusing on their employees, which can in turn help them to empower their employees and find further efficiencies. There is nothing that will slow a project down more than a project manager who simply does not have the time to speak to every single team member’s needs. With the time saved using AI-enabled project management systems, these managers can focus more on what matters to them. Freeing up that amount of time in a day is not only a great way to help projects move along more efficiently, but it can also make for a more comfortable work environment where employees feel supported and know that they have the appropriate resources in place.

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

Predictive Analytics for Project Management 

From a business efficiency perspective, AI is an obvious asset because of its ability to manage complex analytics. This allows a system to observe the way that a project is moving and make educated predictions about the future of the project. While humans are more likely to get caught focusing on their own problems and may overlook certain shifts in the project because they are not seeing them directly, AI can watch all the moving parts and then make valuable predictions based off of what it is seeing. AI is capable of monitoring budgets and scheduling, and over time, it can learn to identify potential impacts to these processes. 

A more complex potential with this is AI’s ability to monitor human beings and make predictions based off of the patterns that it sees. AI systems can observe projects and individual team member behavior, and can pick up on certain habits and nuances with team members that might be otherwise overlooked. This 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 off track. It also means that the system may be able to help offer personalized coaching for employees based off of 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 educated adjustments based off of that. These systems can go so far as to identify when someone is doing something out of compliance, which opens them to the possibility of recognizing potential instances of fraud and other kinds of issues that might arise.

Over time, it seems likely that AI-enabled project management systems will be able to make the science of human behavior more concrete in various ways. A system that is capable of analyzing someone’s every move is likely to be more reliable in predicting actions or potential needs than an individual person might be. AI holds the key to helping management understand the distinctive nuances 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 shopper and act accordingly, these systems can help provide customized aid to employees working on a project, as well as project managers. Overall, the potential benefits of bringing AI into the project management space are significant.

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Ronald Schmelzer, columnist, is senior analyst and founder of the Artificial Intelligence-focused analyst and advisory firm Cognilytica, and is also the host of the AI Today podcast, SXSW Innovation Awards Judge, founder and operator of TechBreakfast demo format events, and an expert in AI, Machine Learning, Enterprise Architecture, venture capital, startup and entrepreneurial ecosystems, and more. Prior to founding Cognilytica, Ron founded and ran ZapThink, an industry analyst firm focused on Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), Cloud Computing, Web Services, XML, & Enterprise Architecture, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in August 2011.

Ron is a Parallel Entrepreneur, having started and sold a number of successful companies. The companies Ron has started and run have collectively employed hundreds of people, raised over $60M in Venture funding and exits in the millions. Ron was founder and chief organizer of TechBreakfast – the largest monthly morning tech meetup in the nation with over 50,000 members and 3000+ attendees at the monthly events across the US including Baltimore, DC, NY, Boston, Austin, Silicon Valley, Philadelphia, Raleigh and more.

He was also founder and CEO at Bizelo, a SaaS company focused on small business apps, and was Founder and CTO of ChannelWave, an enterprise software company which raised $60M+ in VC funding and subsequently acquired by Click Commerce, a publicly traded company. Ron founded and was CEO of VirtuMall and VirtuFlex from 1994-1998, and hired the CEO before it merged with ChannelWave.

Ron is a well-known expert in IT, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), XML, Web Services, and Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA). He is well regarded as a startup marketing & sales adviser, and is currently mentor & investor in the TechStars seed stage investment program, where he has been involved since 2009. In addition, he is a judge of SXSW Interactive Awards and served on standards bodies such as RosettaNet, UDDI, and ebXML.

Ron is the lead author of XML And Web Services Unleashed (SAMS 2002) and co-author of Service-Orient or Be Doomed (Wiley 2006) with Jason Bloomberg. Ron received a B.S. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and MBA from Johns Hopkins University.