Last updated on 21st September 2023
In this article we’re going to take a look at AI in project management to give you a complete guide. This will include things like the possible implications of AI in the workplace, and how project managers can best prepare for an increase in this technology.
AI is everywhere these days. According to Tidio, the number of businesses using artificial intelligence has grown by 300% in the past 5 years. On top of that, 83% of companies consider using AI in their strategy to be a high priority.
AI is well and truly here, and now we must ‘evolve or die’, as the saying goes. So, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about AI in project management.
What is AI?
AI stands for artificial intelligence. In the simplest of terms it means intelligence (such as perceiving, understanding, and inferring information) demonstrated by a machine, rather than a lifeform.
Through applications such as natural language processing and machine learning, AI systems can problem solve, adapt to new environments, and achieve specific goals.
Some examples of AI in everyday life include things like an Alexa or Echo Smart Speaker:
Smart compose in Gmail:
And most chatbots available online. The most popular chatbot at the minute is ChatGPT because of just how intelligent and responsive it is. This natural language processing tool can help with an endless amount of tasks, all while carrying out almost human-like conversations:
What is AI in project management?
AI has a number of uses. When it comes to AI in project management, there are many different ways this technology can help project managers.
Artificial intelligence can be applied to almost any process to make it smoother, easier, and more productive. For project managers, tasks typically revolve around scheduling and planning, allocating resources, and managing different team members and departments.
And AI can help with all of this!
Let’s take a look at 5 real life examples of AI in project management…
5 examples of AI for project management
1. Automating low value tasks
Low value tasks like initial conversations with prospects, sending progress updates, and scheduling meetings can actually take up a large portion of your time as a project manager.
AI can help here by allowing you to automate those low value tasks. This can increase project efficiency and give you more time to invest in higher value activities.
An example of a business using AI to automate low value tasks is TUI. TUI has used AI to create a tours platform that provides users with fast and accurate itineraries, and real time pricing and availability.
People interested in booking a holiday with TUI can seamlessly personalise their vacation plans with this easy to use, self service platform.
And TUI’s travel advisors can use it for in-store customers too. According to Peter Krueger, spokesperson for TUI, “Growing our experiences product portfolio is a key strategic priority for TUI. The tours segment in particular is a sizeable and strongly growing market. We are proud of having successfully launched a new fully integrated platform.”
2. Predictive analytics
Predictive analytics is a powerful tool that can help project managers to make more informed future decisions based on data from past projects.
AI can use machine learning to sift through all of your data from previous projects and detect patterns to discover which projects are likely to be the most successful or profitable for your business in the future. And, just as importantly, which projects you shouldn’t take on at all.
There are huge companies already using predictive models to improve business success. One example is Accenture. They have a predictive AI model that can predict the ability to win a sales opportunity in less than 3 seconds, with an incredible 97% accuracy!
Another company using predictive analytics is Unilever. Unilever has saved 100,000 hours of time on the recruitment process by using an AI system that scans candidates’ facial expressions, body language, and word choices during video interviews and then checks these against traits that are considered to be predictive of job success.
3. Risk management
Identifying and mitigating potential risks is important for ensuring projects run on time and on budget, but it can be quite an overwhelming and sometimes all-consuming task for project managers.
AI can certainly alleviate some of the stress around risk management, thanks mainly to just how quickly and accurately artificial intelligence systems can process data. In addition to that, AI can help project managers to make more informed decisions by providing data-driven insights and recommendations.
This, in turn, can lead to increased project efficiency and a reduction in costly delays and rework caused by unidentified risks.
One company that requires stellar risk management is PwC and, as such they’ve partnered with TruEra to implement AI/ML (machine learning) models that assess the risks associated with the adoption and implementation of AI for their clients. So, they’re kind of using AI to monitor and mitigate the risks of AI – pretty cool!
4. Resource allocation
Resource allocation is just one more thing on a project manager’s plate. You have to evaluate employees’ skill sets to ensure the right people are allocated to the right projects, and then you have to study their schedules to see who is available.
You also need to make sure people are given the right amount of time to work on each project – not enough time and they’ll get burnout, too much time and the project won’t be profitable. So, we get it, it can be a lot.
Luckily, this is another avenue that AI can help with. AI can quickly and easily evaluate all of your employee data to help with resource allocation. And it’s already being used in this way for project management by businesses like VieCuri.
VieCuri is a medical centre with over 3,000 staff in 5 different locations. They partnered with the AI-driven resource management software, EpicFlow to sort out their resource allocation and project management headaches, and here’s a snapshot of the results:
By implementing AI, the project managers at VieCuri can now understand their capacity better so they know when they can undertake new projects and if they need to hire more staff.
5. Improve productivity
In addition to all of the very specific ways that artificial intelligence can be useful in project management, AI can also help you to improve productivity overall.
When you use AI powered tools, workflows can be simplified, collaboration can be improved, and your team members can gain valuable insights on the fly – all resulting in better project performance.
At Project.co, we think for the greatest chance of project success you should use project management software. Even better, a project management software that has AI tools embedded into it.
Our AI assistant, powered by ChatGPT, can help you directly where you’re working (inside your projects).
Check out this video to find out more:
Pretty cool, right?!
We know that as a project manager you’re likely hopping between a lot of project management tools and juggling a million different things at once. That’s why we’ve built so many features into Project.co, so you can get everything you need from one great project manager.
Implications of artificial intelligence in project management
1. Job displacement
Whenever the topic of AI comes up in the workplace, job displacement is usually everyone’s top concern.
And with good reason.
According to The Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, automation is set to displace 85 million jobs globally by 2025.
But there’s no need to panic just yet, because the same report found that this new ‘robot revolution’ will create 97 million new jobs.
When talking specifically about project management, it’s unlikely that AI will completely replace project managers. Rather, the hope is that AI will simply automate certain aspects of project management (such as project scheduling and some initial communications) and this will give project managers more time to focus on complex and creative tasks.
2. Errors and biases
While AI arguably removes the risks associated with manual errors, AI can only work with the data pools it has access to. In other words, AI is only as good as its data. And it’s likely that some errors and biases will be unavoidable.
The best way to manage this is to first be aware of the implication, and then also just be on alert for these instances occurring. By making yourself aware of these issues before implementing AI, you can ensure your team’s better prepared to handle any instances of errors or biases that arise through the management of the project lifecycle.
3. Doing too much too soon
AI technology is very ‘hot right now’. And while this can create a feeling of being left behind or FOMO if you don’t immediately implement AI into your business to help you manage projects, it’s important to make sure you don’t do too much too soon.
Remember that this is a new technology. AI is still in its infancy and it should be adopted slowly by project leaders so that you can stay in control. Start by using automation tools for routine tasks and then perhaps move onto using AI to manage more complex projects when you’re more comfortable and have a better understanding of how to use it for your specific business.
4. Cost and complexity
Another reason to take it slow when it comes to AI in project management is the cost and complexity involved.
If you really want to transform project management with AI then you need to invest in the right technology and the best AI tools for your use cases.
In addition, you need to ensure that everyone in your team is trained on how to use AI driven solutions correctly so that you can reach your project goals with ease.
5. Lack of a human touch
While some AI chatbots are becoming more human-like in their communications, and through a machine learning model they can learn to be even better, AI is still going to lack empathy and the emotional intelligence required in certain situations.
Depending on your business operations and the types of projects you manage, this can be a huge deal. If you work directly with clients and stakeholders, there are going to be certain aspects of your projects that only human beings can deal with.
The bottom line here is, it’s important to find a balance when utilising AI for project management.
Artificial intelligence for project managers: How to prepare
1. Always put people first
Whether it’s your clients, stakeholders, or your team members, human beings should always come before your AI software – of course!
If your team’s worried about job displacement in the near future, then reassure them that artificial intelligence is used to assist their project planning, help them automate tasks and save time, not to take their jobs.
2. Don’t dive straight in
As mentioned, artificial intelligence is definitely still in its infancy. Diving straight in and automating everything you possibly can will likely lead to multiple issues for your projects.
Plus, there are a lot of different AI tools popping up every day, especially in the project management area, so make sure you shop around to find the best one to help you manage your projects.
In addition, team training is also important when implementing any new project management tools – particularly project management AI.
As exciting as this new world of artificial intelligence can seem, remember to take your time. Only fools rush in!
3. Don’t become too reliant
Another thing you absolutely want to avoid when it comes to using AI as part of your project management process is becoming too reliant on the software. Ideally, you don’t want to become overly reliant on any software.
It’s great to use AI to your advantage – to monitor project progress and bring down project costs – but, as the project manager, you should always oversee the usage of AI where possible.
Plus, be sure to check your AI tool every now and then for any errors or potential biases. Most AI tools will be relying on historical project data so if anything is inputted even slightly incorrectly, this could impact your AI software.
Remember, AI should be your partner, not your replacement!
4. Get ready to scale up!
With the many benefits that AI can bring for all industries, including project management, one of the best ways you can prepare is to get ready to increase your business and take on more projects.
With AI helping you to eliminate risks, optimise resource allocation, and predict which projects will be the most successful for your company, you’ll be able to streamline your processes and get more done!
It’s an exciting time for AI in project management, and by making the necessary preparations now you can ensure that AI grows with your company to help you manage projects more efficiently and successfully.
For more on the topic of AI in project management, check out this article: 19 Best AI Productivity Tools.