Artificial intelligence (AI) is a game changer for practically every industry. The rise of smart machines promises to increase business value and project management capabilities. But despite the profit, some people are still wary. Their main concern is that smart machines will make their jobs redundant. A recent Atlassian poll revealed that 87% of respondents think AI will change their job by 2020, while 76% say that at least “some” or “half” of their job will become the responsibility of a robot, algorithm, device, or other AI-powered technology. These respondents are skeptical and believe that human potential is second-to-none despite the spectacular advances of AI.

Although the potential for machines taking over people’s responsibilities and taking their jobs increases with the adoption of AI, however, there’s no need to worry. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that moving to AI will require “a new set of personnel to build, maintain, operate, and regulate these emerging technologies” by 2030. In this article, we’ll try to figure out how AI may encroach on the project manager’s role and determine the key benefits of relying on machine learning in project management.

AI to Sustain Holistic and Nano Project Management

Business leaders, C-level managers, and project experts face myriad responsibilities. Without AI algorithms, it’s difficult to get a comprehensive view of the mechanisms of a business. Artificial intelligence can help project managers delegate thousands of tasks with ease while maintaining a holistic view of their teams and projects. At some point, AI in project management will likely be comparable to AI solutions already used to diagnose cancer. In the medical field, artificial intelligence classifiers analyze millions of cells to find tumors and, combined with human input, can diagnose with 99.5% accuracy. This is what we expect in project management – accuracy and precision in pursuit of bottlenecks or potential constraints that hinder business processes. Using a PM tool with AI capabilities can help project managers release bottlenecks as quickly as possible.

AI to Improve Learning Capabilities

As machines get smarter, we get smarter. – Thomas Gruber

AI learns from whatever it gets its hands on, but it should also be able to help us learn. We have to close the Deming cycle by incorporating learning into our way of working. Thomas Gruber, an American computer scientist, inventor, and entrepreneur believes that the purpose of AI is to empower humanity. You’ll find his inspiring talk below:

AI to Interpret Project Data

One of the biggest challenges of contemporary project management is interpreting volumes of project data and using it efficiently in practice. Based on collected data, AI systems can warn project managers to take preventive actions regarding heavy resource loads, unexpectedly low output, over-capacity or under-capacity. These systems can also give advice about when and in which skills a particular employee should be trained. The scientists behind Epicflow, Albert Ponsteen and Jan Willem Tromp, see the future of AI in project management as quite promising. Ponsteen and Tromp are planning to enrich their project planning software with algorithms that can:

• give advice about resource assignments by identifying who has the skills and experience necessary to perform a task, taking into account the current situation;

• give advice about reasonable capacity levels for employees based on historical performance data;

• give feedback about the behavior of employees based on the decisions (or lack of decisions) they make.

By looking at large volumes of data and offering real-time solutions, AI can become a project manager’s best friend – not a competitor.

AI to Improve Decision-Making and Prioritization

Albert Ponsteen is currently working on his PhD in Business Process Management and IT at the School of Management at the Dutch Open University in Heerlen, where he’s investigating whether it’s beneficial to incorporate local knowledge in the resource allocation process for the sake of better and faster decision-making. “Local knowledge is volatile, tacit shop-floor knowledge that’s difficult to transfer to management so they can act on it,” Ponsteen admits. To empower AI solutions for project management, Ponsteen will:

1. Determine why local decision-makers deviate from their priority lists.

2. Ask teams if these reasons are accepted by them as an improvement to the heuristics already in use.

3. Classify these reasons for deviating from the list of priorities.

The expectation is that part of the reasons for deviating can be addressed by management or even a smaller part by improving the heuristics. But Ponsteen also expects the majority of reasons to turn out so diverse that they can’t be incorporated into traditional heuristics.

The question for future development is if AI can use these reasons to improve our priority lists.

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3 PM Pains AI Algorithms Mitigate Today

Even though project management AI is still in its infancy, PM scientists have already enriched their tools with smart algorithms that solve some of the greatest PM challenges. Epicflow is an example of a project management tool that automates some of the responsibilities of C-levels and project managers. It alleviates three key project management pains:

Prioritization. Prioritizing is the most complex task for individuals who work on multiple teams. Epicflow is able to make assumptions about all data to help people better understand their actual priorities.

Re-planning. Epicflow surpasses the human ability to re-plan across multiple projects that contain thousands of tasks. Project managers are no longer required to re-plan everything when a change is made – now it’s the machine’s task.

Prediction. Epicflow uses metadata to improve its machine learning algorithms and give meaningful advice to teams and management. This metadata lets the system learn in retrospect to better predict the future of the project.

Project management AI is heading in the right direction. Artificial intelligence will soon help project managers deliver better results serving them as a project vision assistant, an intelligent signifier of bottlenecks, and data interpreter. Sign up below for a demonstration of Epicflow to take advantage of AI in project management and empower your business.



Atlassian: Welcome your newest teammate…AI.

PricewaterhouseCoopers: What’s the real value of AI for your business?

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