What is the role of AI in project management?

Dhruv Mehta

Written by

Dhruv Mehta

Read Time

7 minutes

“As more and more artificial intelligence is entering into the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter into leadership.” – Amit Ray

It’s 2020, and there’s no doubt that artificial intelligence – or AI, as it is commonly known – is making headway into every area, industry, and sector possible, including project management. In fact, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that automation and project management go hand-in-hand in today’s ‘always-on’ competitive environment. Don’t believe us? Consider the following data that’ll surely make you think:

  • According to Gartner, “By 2030, as much as 80% of the routine work — which represents the bulk of human hours spent in today’s PPM disciplines, can be eliminated as a result of the collaboration between humans and smart machines.”
  • Further research by the Project Management Institute claims that 81% of the respondents report their organization is being impacted by AI technologies.”

Clearly, the application of AI in project management is on the rise. But before we understand how AI is impacting the latter, let’s get down to the basics and understand what we mean by project management AI.

What Project Management AI Entails

First things first, let’s understand what AI means. Practically speaking, AI comprises of a two-part process.

The first step involves a person training the AI tool with the relevant core ‘intelligence’ or knowledge. The second step involves the AI tool to apply the said information and logical algorithms ‘fed’ into its system to sift through mountain worth of data, analyze and interpret events, automate key processes and decisions, and finally, implement the necessary actions.

In other words, project management AI, when stripped down to its essence, can be thought of as a virtual assistant for project managers that can assist the latter in driving day-to-day project management tasks and schedules, without human intervention. Here’s where the use of intuitive tools such as chatbots comes into play.

The central idea is to automate key tasks while analyzing project performance for gauging productivity. Based on the insights, project managers can leverage critical insights and make alterations/suggestions, focus on problem-solving, and implement speedy decisions that can ultimately enhance outcomes for the projects as well as the team members.

All in all, in order to fully realize the potential of AI in project management, project management leaders need to combine the efficiency of bots with intelligent algorithms. A few real-life examples include strategies, which can provide assistance for understanding estimates and budgets, in addition to performing sprint management. Then, of course, there’s Memo, which provides all the help you’ll need when it comes to the management of team knowledge. Though these are limited in their capabilities and more specific in their area focus, project management tools are continuously evolving to take on more complex tasks, offer insights into all-important metrics (think: performance, quality, effort, to name a few), and finally, expanding the scope of project management as we know it.

Top-3 Benefits of AI in Project Management 

1. The Ability to Automate a Repetitive Task 

As per research by Gartner, AI is predicted to generate $2.9 trillion in business value and make up for about 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity by 2021.

Ask any project manager what their biggest pain-point is, and nine times out of ten, you’ll get this answer: administrative tasks. Understandably so. This is where AI can literally take over and reduce some of the repetitive workloads. This frees up more time for your project managers, who can then redirect their energies on doing complex, more creative work that requires human skills, empathy, and judgment. Naturally, this helps project managers to add true value to the project with respect to critical areas such as business strategy, product innovation, motivation, among others.

2. Accurate Results due to AI-Enabled Predictive Analytics 

Research by McKinsey offers eye-opening data. It says that approximately only 30% of projects are delivered on time.”

AI-enabled predictive analytics is the art (and the science) of analyzing past projects and other data points to understand the pitfalls (think: time and budget restraints, etc.) as well as the successes. In simpler terms, the AI tool can rightly predict a project’s future and enhance the project’s visibility for project teams and managers. The idea is to track potential risks and enhance decision-making so that the project doesn’t go off track. In other words, research indicates that using a predictive analytics model can give rise to quality and on-time development, with defects per line of code demonstrating a reduction of almost 30% – 40%.

Let’s look at an example to understand this better. Say you’ve implemented a project management AI tool into your source code. This AI tool can catch any modifications made to source code in real-time. That’s not all. The tool can also link those iterations to the correct resources and to the tasks that were performed so that the errors can be caught early on in the process. In other words, the AI system can link bugs reported to the specific line of code, look up the person who coded it and bring up the tasks that are related to the code. Long story short, by using real-time information, the AI can offer actionable insights into team performance and even make reliable predictions to prevent future mishaps.

3. Optimized Resource Scheduling with AI: A Powerful and Value-Driven System

One of the biggest advantages of project management AI is that it can offer meaningful advice. Confused? Here’s how this works: Say you need to reassign the task due to resource unavailability. The project management AI tool can do this for you. As you can imagine, this does not hamper the work output in terms of speed or quality. Plus, evolved AI systems can drive decisions factoring in every team member’s capabilities and talent with respect to varying technology and focus areas at play. Basically, no time is wasted as the tool keeps track of the resource schedules and makes changes based on how your project is faring down to the minute. In addition to this, AI can perform a variety of tasks, such as:

  • Analyze the resource type based on the project and task requirements and map out a customized workflow.
  • Perform quality assurance testing.
  • Extract historical data to calculate critical elements such as task duration.
  • Select accurate team members for a task by referencing a database that highlights their hard and soft skills.
  • Review the work and time-off schedules of the team members.
  • Compare individual team member’s productivity by looking at their weekly reports.

Key takeaway: Even though at the outset, project management seems like a manual job that requires human intervention and human intelligence, there are parts and practices in the project management workflow that can be automated and optimized to deliver higher productivity and output, that too at a fraction of a cost (in terms of the time taken, the money and resources involved, among other things).

4 Strategic Ways in which AI is Contributing to Project Management 

1. AI-Powered Chatbot can Streamline Project Management Functionalities 

“By 2020, over 50% of medium to large enterprises will have deployed product chatbots. Thanks to their ability to use natural language processing to map a spoken or written input to an intent, chatbots are rapidly entering the workplace.”  – Gartner

Chatbots are here to stay. And anyone who disputes this is living under a rock. AI-powered chatbots are lending a helpful hand in delegating as well as monitoring tasks, thereby streamlining key project management functionalities. These include linear tasks such as updating task sheets, creating reminders, drafting project reports as well as more advanced tasks such as offering proactive advice based on real-time data, looking out for potential bottlenecks, and predicting project success/failure. That’s not all.

AI chatbots promote enhanced team collaboration and can help schedule team meetings. The bot takes into account each team member’s project schedule and draws out common free times to book a viable meeting slot. By seamlessly adjusting – and addressing – every potential problem, chatbots streamline the workflow and make it friction-free. Needless to say, project management AI has an undeniable impact on team and project performance.

2. Seamless AI integration is Reducing Errors in the Project Flow 

Did you know that intelligent bots can pick up on errors and gaps that even the most trained human eye may miss? In fact, one of the core functions of a project management AI is to chalk out actionable insights across diverse areas of a project – from data structuring to identify patterns as well as inconsistencies in the project workflow – and accurately map and predict potential risks. This makes multi-tasking seem like a cake-walk and prevents common errors that every project manager faces, such as unplanned resource allocation, under-performance of key metrics, unplanned resource accountability, project delays, cost shoot ups, etc.

3. AI is Actively Leading to Higher Productivity among Employees  

Consider this: By 2021, 70 percent of companies will be wired to boost employee productivity by integrating AI in the workplace.

It’s an unsaid rule that most project managers have to deal with mountains worth of data – before, during, and even after a project. But what if the AI could deal with the ‘data’ collation, organization, and consumption? That would leave the human resources with more time, energy, as well as focus to cater to more rewarding tasks and processes that require human intuition. Think of it like this – AI can handle the monotonous, redundant, and repetitive work while humans get to engage in critical thinking and innovate all the way as the processes get smoother and more streamlined. By combining the prowess of machines and human aptitude, project managers can leverage the best of all the worlds.

4. AI Integration is Paving the Way for Laser Sharp Data-Driven Decision-Making 

Data by IBM paints a positive picture by claiming that the data-based decision-making market is pegged to reach $2 trillion by 2025.

Did you know that AI can be programmed to follow specific, rule-based workflows? This kind of AI integration in project management allows project leaders to make smart decisions swiftly as it means that the AI can preempt the roadblocks and tackle the bottlenecks quickly. More importantly, it empowers them to use real-time data and make informed decisions with the right context in mind. This winning combination paves the way for proactive decision making that offers targeted results. More importantly, it allows project managers to view how every project and task aligns with the overall goal with greater data transparency so that the quality stays up-to-the-mark at all costs.

Wrapping Up

Artificial intelligence will reach human levels by around 2029. Follow that out further to, say, 2045, and we will have multiplied the intelligence, the human biological machine intelligence of our civilization a billion-fold. – Ray Kurzweil

Contrary to popular opinion, AI cannot replace humans, but it can augment the work process. From managing day-to-day tasks to planning for future outcomes, project management AI acts as an all-in-one project management solution that takes into account short-term as well as long-term goals. To wrap up, here’s a low-down of its key benefits:

  • Automate repetitive tasks
  • Offer accurate results due to AI-enabled predictive analytics
  • Streamline project management functionalities and iron out key everyday issues
  • Reduce errors and data gaps in the project flow
  • Provide higher productivity among employees
  • Allow project managers to engage in laser-sharp data-driven decision-making
  • Optimize the resource scheduling process

That said, Project Managers need to embrace a change in mindset, above everything else, and view AI as an integral virtual team member of their larger team. With a smart system and an intelligent chatbot at hand, project managers can complete projects at light speed with greater accuracy, with more reliable results, and finally, enjoy an improved team performance as well as the outcome. What do you think?

Dhruv Mehta is a Digital Marketing Professional who works at Acquire and provides solutions in the digital era. In his free time, he loves to write on tech and marketing. He is a frequent contributor to Tweak Your Biz.


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