By Dr. Wanda Curlee  |  05/21/2024


project management

 

As a project manager, you might be curious about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on your role. This question is on the minds of many people in various industries.

However, it's crucial to understand that AI is not a threat to project managers. Instead, it’s a powerful tool that can amplify their capabilities.

By mastering the effective use of AI, project managers can position themselves as a pivotal figure in the AI implementation process, enhancing the value of their role and the organization. Embracing the empowerment that AI brings allows project managers to control and enhance their project management capabilities.

 

What Is Project Management?

So, what is project management? The Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®), commonly called the PMBOK or PMBOK Guide, defines project management as managing resources, time, and budget. Project management typically requires effective communication, leadership, and teamwork.

 

Why Project Managers Should Learn About Artificial Intelligence

Ideally, all project managers must acquaint themselves with AI. It’s not necessary to be an expert or a programmer. But once you've used AI tools, you can do your work more efficiently and effectively and save time.

 

Can AI Replace a Project Manager?

It’s likely that AI will replace some project managers. However, human workers will still be needed for some tasks that require the human touch.

Throughout history, every technology that has ever been introduced to society has replaced workers, but oftentimes that same technology has created more jobs than eliminated ones. According to the BBC, AI is expected to replace 300,000 workers.

In addition, AI is also expected to create half-a-billion job opportunities, according to Computer World. As a result, it is wise for project managers to remain up to date with various technology tools, including AI tools.

 

Staying Current with Technologies

Project management is always evolving, and staying current with today’s technology is imperative. To help you keep your knowledge up to date, here are some strategies:

  • Engage in continuous learning: A project's data constantly changes. Understanding data-specific methods and iterative approaches will help you maintain focus on the project. Continuous learning will also help you be adaptable and stay up to date with the changing AI environment.
  • Explore AI tools: Don’t be shy. Make sure you test AI in project management and other AI tools that can help you. Some tools reduce your administrative needs. For example, AI tools can handle administrative tasks such as planning meetings, scheduling reminders, and delivering day-to-day updates.
  • Read: Seek out articles, reviews, research papers, and case studies about AI and disruptive technologies to stay informed about trends, best practices, and emerging technologies.
  • Attend workshops and conferences: Workshops, webinars, free training, and conferences focused on AI and project management are great networking opportunities and provide valuable insights.
  • Collaborate with experts: Talk with members of your IT department, who are most likely your company's AI experts. Learning from them and asking the correct questions can give you ideas on how to best use AI in project management.

 

How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Project Managers

There are various ways that artificial intelligence can enhance project management. Here are some practical ways AI can improve project management:

  • Drafting communications with stakeholders: AI can help you efficiently compose emails or other messages. An AI tool can improve tone or streamline content; AI can also write a message quickly with little input.
  • Turning project outlines into project plans: AI can assist in building out tasks and phases. Creating a schedule is no longer manual. You can input tasks and due dates into the project software to create a workable plan.
  • Creating time estimates: An AI tool such as ChatGPT can break down large, somewhat ambiguous tasks into smaller tasks. ChatGPT’s output still needs human input, but the manual effort is minimized.
  • Brainstorming risks: Sometimes, project managers have tunnel vision when they are thinking about risks. An AI tool can assist in breaking tunnel vision. By analyzing data and patterns, AI can suggest risks that may not be apparent to you. However, a project manager will still make the final decision about which risks are acceptable and unacceptable.
  • Generating schedules: AI can accurately create complex schedules by analyzing available data. According to Forbes, the more data and context that is provided to the AI-generating software, the more precise the schedule.
  • Automating repetitive tasks: AI can automate several project management tasks, including scheduling, budgeting, risk assessment, and progress tracking. This automation allows project managers to complete their work more easily.
  • Developing predictive outcomes: AI algorithms analyze historical data and predict project outcomes. When AI identifies trends and patterns, project managers can make decisions, optimize resource allocation, and adjust plans as needed to improve project performance.
  • Allocating resources: With access to the correct data, AI can allocate resources and check for availability, workload, and project requirements. It helps ensure the right resource is assigned to the right task at the right time.
  • Creating chatbots: Chatbots can handle routine questions, allowing project managers to focus on project strategy. For instance, a chatbot can provide real-time updates to customers, answer frequently asked questions, and improve overall communication.

 

The Need for Human Intervention

Despite all of the advantages of AI tools, it’s important to bear in mind that AI is not a silver bullet, but a useful tool.

Humans still need to make decisions after analyzing AI-generated results and triangulating data. Project management skills will still be required to complete projects on time.

 

Using AI as a Virtual Assistant

A Project Management Virtual Assistant (PM VA) is a skilled professional who assists in managing specific business projects. The virtual assistant’s work starts at the early planning stages and ends with final delivery.

The AI version of a Project Management Virtual Assistant has numerous benefits, including automating tasks, processing information, and interacting with users. Some of the functions include:

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): High-powered AI virtual assistants can understand and respond to most human languages. AI tools can analyze verbal or written input, extract relevant data, and generate a reply. Examples of AI tools using NLP are chatbots, Apple Inc.’s Siri®, Amazon’s Alexa®, and customer service bots.
  • Task automation: AI can perform repetitive tasks to free up project managers for more important work. For instance, an AI assistant can manage calendars, set reminders, and send notifications.
  • Personalization: The more you use AI tools, the more they will learn about you. AI tools examine what you say or write and will start to provide responses, recommendations, and suggestions based on what it has learned from your input.
  • Information retrieval: An AI virtual assistant can retrieve relevant information more quickly from vast databases or the internet than a project manager. AI can also answer fact-based questions and summarize data.
  • Context awareness: AI can interpret context and maintain a conversation. It remembers previous interactions and will adapt its responses accordingly. Virtual assistants such as Google Assistant® are good at holding a conversation.
  • Voice recognition: AI can take your spoken language and convert it to commands or text. For example, a virtual assistant can set alarms, play music, and provide directions.
  • Task management: A virtual assistant can track deadlines, allocate resources, and help ensure tasks are completed efficiently. 
  • Multilingual support: AI can help translate multiple languages, enhancing global interactions. Customers, partners, or vendors can speak in their native tongue, and the AI assistant can simultaneously translate the text for project managers.
  • Machine learning: The AI virtual assistant continuously learns from user feedback and past projects, and it adapts to the needs it perceives are necessary. As the virtual assistant accumulates more experience, it becomes more effective.

 

Today’s Project Management AI Tools

The use of AI in project management has made great strides, and even the Project Management Institute acknowledges the need for project managers to use AI to be effective. According to ClickUp, some AI project management tools currently in use include:

  • ClickUp Brain®: This software has an AI-powered assistant integrated into its platform. It streamlines workflows by automating tasks, can provide personalized recommendations based on your behaviors, and enhances productivity and collaboration.
  • Process.st®: This tool combines process management with AI capabilities. Some of its features include automating routine tasks, optimizing workflow, and facilitating collaboration.
  • Project Planner®: This software integrates AI for efficient project planning and execution. It is known for predictive analytics, calendar management, and risk assessment.
  • Project Insight®: This tool leverages AI for comprehensive work management with features that are minimal but powerful. These features include customizations and workflow enhancements.
  • Wrike®: This software has unique AI features, including assisting with writing and providing AI-driven insights.
  • Notion®: This tool offers writing assistance and collaboration features, including AI-powered content suggestions and document sharing.

Recently, Microsoft announced that it created Copilot® for project management. Copilot is an AI tool that can create a schedule with recommended durations, dependencies, and other schedule needs.

To assess risk, Copilot uses project metadata to assess potential risks and increase the chances of successful project outcomes. This type of work is data-intensive, but it requires project data to be online. If the data is not online and the AI tool cannot access it, Copilot is worthless.

Copilot also creates project status reports. Copilot can even conduct interactive chats, allowing project managers to reserve their time for other priorities.

 

AI Is Revolutionizing Project Management

As a project manager, you must pick the AI tools that align with your project’s needs. In the near future, project managers will be able to navigate even complex landscapes with AI.

AI algorithms will efficiently allocate resources, assign team members to projects, manage budgets, and allocate other resources, such as long-lead items. AI will optimize utilization, leading to smoother project implementation.

AI can also perform what-if scenarios to assist with project outcomes, help managers anticipate challenges, and advise project managers on adjusting strategies such as timeline adjustments or risk mitigation. The predictive analytic capabilities of AI will assist project managers and add value to their work.

Real-time reports utilizing project data will be generated through AI, and there will be no need for manual data entry for reports. Project progress, key performance indicators, and project milestones will be available for stakeholders at any time and will be easily accessible.

AI-powered tools, such as chatbots or virtual assistants, will facilitate communication and collaboration among team members, improving productivity. Enhanced communication will create a more efficient project team.

AI can assess historical data for potential risks. Having proactive risk management helps delay costly risks and can enhance project success.

Do you think you can consider AI as a trusted partner? This trusted partner may free you from administrative burdens, enhance strategic thinking, and improve complex decision making on projects.

Organizations need to trust AI and embrace it. By embracing AI, organizations will deliver better results and transform how projects work.

 

Degrees at American Public University

American Public University (APU) offers several business-related degrees where students can take courses involving project management and artificial intelligence, including:

All of these degree programs have achieved specialty accreditation through the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Our courses are taught by experienced faculty members who can provide practical insights into different industries. For more information, please see our business program page.

Siri is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc.
Alexa is a registered trademark of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.
Google Assistant is a registered trademark of Google, Inc.
ClickUp Brain is a registered trademark of Mango Technologies, Inc.
Process.st is a registered trademark of Goodwinds, Inc.
Project Planner is a registered trademark of Project Planner.
Project Insight is a registered trademark of Project Insight.
Wrike is a registered trademark of Citrix Systems, Inc.
Notion is a registered trademark of Notion Labs, Inc.
Copilot is a registered trademark of the Microsoft Corporation.
ACBSP is a registered trademark of the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.


About the Author
Dr. Wanda Curlee is a part-time faculty member for the Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business at American Public University. She has over 30 years of consulting and project management experience and has worked at several Fortune 500 companies. Dr. Curlee has a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix, a MBA in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix, and a M.A. and a B.A. in Spanish Studies from the University of Kentucky. She has published numerous articles and several books on project management.

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