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Artificial intelligence and the Future of Project Management

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Artificial intelligence and the Future of Project Management

Crystal ball predicting the future of AI

I’m sure we have all wished we could predict the future at one point. Crystal gazing is the art of divination of distant or future events based on visions as seen in a ball of rock crystal. The practice has been around for thousands of years, appearing in the mystical and religious traditions of numerous ancient civilizations (perhaps most notably the Druids).1

Even though I hail from the British Isles, I am no Druid, or seer, no foreteller of the future. But I can see trends that are gaining momentum. There is no magic here. Only a matter of just stating the obvious.

And one clear project management trend is the impact of artificial intelligence and the future of the project management profession.

The virtual partnership

PWC’s ‘A Virtual Partnership? How Artificial Intelligence will disrupt Project Management and change the role of Project Managers provides the following thoughts about AI and project management needs and trends:

“Project managers need to capitalise on the opportunities generated by technological disruption, and in many ways be the champions of new technologies as they emerge.”

“Both AI and project managers depend on each other; the project manager is required to have the right skill set to be able to manage AI and AI is inoperative without the input and added value of a skilled project manager.”

This report makes some well-considered predictions for the future digital (AI) world of business change:

“Where humans and AI work together, project managers will need to build a skill set that focuses on the areas where AI falls short: these are the core ‘people skills’ or ‘21st century skills’, the use of AI will also require a diverse and flexible skill set to be able to cope with future challenges.”

It has always been essential for project leaders to have strong communication and negotiation skills. More recently, it’s become widely accepted that emotional intelligence is another essential skill required to inspire teams and lead them in a collaboratively productive manner.

As ‘agents of change’, it should come as no surprise that project managers should embrace the rise of AI in project management. A drastic change can sometimes be alarming, no matter what industry you work in. But this rise of artificial intelligence in project management will not be a meteor landing, dinosaur-like extinction of the species known as project managers.

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What the Future Looks Like for Project Management Teams

Now that you are aware of this trend, let’s talk about how this new technology will shape the future of project management. There is an immense opportunity that artificial intelligence offers project managers:

  • Reduce the burdensome or onerous tasks 
  • Remove tasks from our plate that intelligent software can do more efficiently
  • Automating processes 
  • Provide greater predictive capabilities
  • Process huge amounts of data quickly and efficiently to reveal key insights

This intelligence technology will allow us to free up our time to work on the most strategic initiatives. Gartner said 80% of our daily project management tasks would be released by AI.2 We will be able to spend our time collaborating, leading, and strategizing with the people on our project team, wherever they are in the world, with much greater efficiency. This quantum leap will allow a better work-life balance and more efficient project teams to become a reality.

AI in project management will permit project leaders to spend more time on high-value initiatives they previously didn’t have the luxury of working on. Project teams will be able to dedicate much more time, focus, and care for their tasks and teams.

This thought fits well with Daniel Pink’s3 view on motivation, and something I personally explored in my book ‘The Social Project Manager.4

In ‘Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’ Pink explains that everything we think we might know about what motivates us is probably wrong.

He puts forward a core concept of motivation called the 4 T’s; in which people want autonomy over their:

  • Tasks
  • Time
  • Team
  • Technique

PM user on computer with ai technology integrated

The absence of this autonomy has bad consequences for performance and motivation. And conversely if you want maximum individual and team motivation, then you have to give people autonomy over the 4 T’s.

Looking at the 4 T’s in terms of your work life today, you may conclude that even the best project manager can’t influence the autonomy of their tasks and time.  Perhaps that is correct, but an open channel of communication within the team might provide alternative ways to achieve this autonomy.  This is where advanced AI features in project management can give you that autonomy you crave by taking away mundane tasks and giving you more time back to your day.

But the other two T’s – ‘Team’ and ‘Technique’ is where the AI-supported future project manager will really thrive. I have talked before about how AI should start being perceived as a member of your team. In a future-looking world, we can no longer ignore the technology component of a working team. As artificial intelligence in project management continues to evolve,  it truly changes the way teams work together and the techniques performed to make the work more efficient.

High-performing teams deliver high-performing projects and, by default, great success. The project management trend towards the adoption of AI will be a huge contributor to this accelerated level of success.

The project management future lies with Artificial intelligence. No crystal ball required.

Impact of Artificial Intelligence and the Future

This is the third in a series of blogs that explores the exciting world of artificial intelligence and how it will impact the world of project management through efficiency gains, optimization of resources and the refocus on priority-driven scheduling. All of which will become the norm in the next few years. I will continue to share my predictions on How AI Helps with Productivity & Prioritization and also on Planning Intelligence.

Keep reading and share your thoughts and experiences on the rise of AI within the project management profession.

About the Author

author peter taylorKeynote speaker and coach, Peter  Taylor is the author of the number 1 bestselling project management book ‘The Lazy Project Manager’, along with many other books on Project Management, PMO development, Executive Sponsorship, Transformation Leadership, and Speaking Skills.

He has built and led some of the largest PMOs in the world with organizations such as Siemens, IBM, UKG, and now Ceridian, where he is the VP Global PMO. Peter has also delivered over 500 lectures around the world in over 25 countries and has been described as ‘perhaps the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project management world today’. To learn more about Peter and his expertise on artificial intelligence and the future of project management, you can visit his website, The Lazy Project Manager.

Footnotes

1https://www.pwc.com/m1/en/publications/virtual-partnership-artificial-ntelligence-disrupt-project-management-change-role-project-managers.html#:~:text=AI%20will%20change%20how%20the,data%20collection%2C%20tracking%20and%20reporting.
2https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2019-03-20-gartner-says-80-percent-of-today-s-project-management
3Daniel H. Pink is the author of six provocative books about business and human behavior. His books include the long-running New York Times bestsellers When and A Whole New Mind — as well as the #1 New York Times bestsellers Drive and To Sell is Human.
4The Social Project Manager: Balancing Collaboration with Centralised Control in a Project Driven World By Peter Taylor (Routledge).

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