Technological breakthroughs & impact of advances such as ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) will have a huge impact on the future of workforce – includes the role of project manager.
As per PwC’s analysis of OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development) data covering 200,000 jobs in 29 countries breaks AI’s job-displacement into 3 waves: “Algorithmic (until the early 2020’s), “Augmentation” (to the late 2020’s) & “Autonomy” (to the mid-2030s). The first wave will impact relatively few jobs – perhaps 30%. By the mid-2030s, however, up to 30% of jobs could be automated – mostly those involving clerical & manual tasks. The need for upskilling the workforce is clear: as technology sets in order to adapt & keep pace with such changes, so allowing all to thrive in the new era of AI.
AI can be used to analyze, disparate & big data with greater speed & dexterity to derive actionable, tangible insights. In this way, project managers will be empowered with more & better quality data & insights to improve the speed, quality & accuracy of decision-making throughout the project lifecycle.
Here we outline 5(five) main areas where AI will transform the practice of project management & examine the characteristics of future project managers & organizations. Highlighting the key considerations to make before implementing AI-enabled project management software & the important next steps that organizations can take today to prepare for s future where AI & humans will work together.
“Moving from Reactive to Proactive”
Project management has evolved over time to help organizations identify project, programme & portfolio benefits & achieve their strategic objectives.
The development of “Software as a Service” (SaaS) & cloud systems have allowed stakeholders to access & navigate project information, dashboards & reports at anytime & from anywhere – with an increasing emphasis on real-time data displays. By using enhanced tools for streamlining standardized project management processes, organizations are able to improve the collaboration between their different functions, increasing efficiency & effectiveness while reducing cost & effort.
Current project management tools & software can assist Programme & project managers in optimizing their efficacy & tracking key metrics against KPI & project milestones. However, they cannot predict “what if” & future scenarios or proactively alert project managers before a major issue arises.
Artificial Intelligence is the designing & building of intelligent agents that receives percepts from the environment & takes actions that affect that environment. “AI” is ranked by Project Management Institute (PMI) as the third top disruptor in project management.
In the Middle East – 78% of CEO’s see AI having a bigger impact than the internet. And yet, from an implementation perspective, only 43% have plans in the next 3 years & another 23% have introduced AI in their business but only for limited users.
Five ways AI will transform Project Management
AI enabled project management tools give greater support & accuracy to the decision-making process and could be crucial in achieving successful project management in the near future across five areas:
I. BUSINESS INSIGHTS
1. Better insights with more relevant knowledge
Filtering data to enable management to derive actionable insights & strategies. AI enabled project management tools can provide more insights about the possible outcomes for a project, which will enhance the quality & agility of critical decision-making.
2. Optimized schedules
Duration & resource requirements for activities based on expert knowledge & lessons learned. Machine learning algorithms support the optimization of project schedules to minimize the total cost based on resource contraints.
3. Research new trends & experts
i.e. Virtual Assistants can register for associations, publications & find content & experts. AI will potentially be able to inform project managers of new trends & changes in standards to any field, ensuring that the project manager is always up to date with global trends & best practice.
4. Enhanced data & improved portfolios
Techniques to provide recommendations on prioritizing projects & portfolios. One of the issues facing existing project management tools in general is the quality & availability of data, with some project managers entering minimal or no data into their project management tools. Machine learning algorithms can determine likely values for missing data & the subsequent AI system can provide recommendations for entering accurately the missing data.
II. RISK MANAGEMENT
Effective risk management has to be proactive. AI enables predictions that are most accurate than traditional software solutions in determining risk responses, probabilities & their impact. AI can suggest corrective action based on historical data & continuously track progress to warn project manager when risk arises. This includes risks related to people, vendors, entities, etc. on the project. Cost assumptions & time constraints can be examined by combining current project data with historic data to run multiple scenarios & generate, assess and rank viable outcomes. AI can also incorporate real-time data, for example using natural language processing to scan emails & documents for signs of potential impending issues & liabilities.
III. HUMAN CAPITAL OPTIMIZATION
AI can calculate the best allocation of resources by identifying the right employees for different jobs based on their skills & availability. AI systems warns project managers on resource capacity & utilization issues & suggest preventive actions, while flagging a resource excess or shortage. AI enabled project management systems can advise on when and in which skills a particular employee needs training. They can even provide feedback about the behaviour & competency of the project managers themselves based on the decisions, or lack of decisions, that are made.
IV. ACTION TAKER
AI can transform project management by amplifying benefits from other technological breakthroughs such as analytics, Robotics Process Automation (RPA), the IoT, blockchain and quantum computing. DevOps techniques can help manage this convergence by bringing diverse specialists together to keep projects flowing smoothly. As people look to solve a problem with AI, they need to determine what data they need. AI enabled project management tools can identify risks/issues that require direct intervention, providing recommendations & progress reporting to the project manager & intervening directly if needed.
V. ACTIVE ASSISTANCE
One of the most common services carried out by the PMO (Project Management Office) is status & progress reporting to different stakeholders & top management. Applying AI will assist the project managers by performing administrative & repetitive tasks on their behalf, therefore augmenting their skills.
These tasks includes:
- 1. Data entry, collection & management
- 2. Preparing & updating project schedules with inputs from multiple sources
- 3. Generating status reporting & flagging exceptions to bring them to the project manager’s attention
- 4. Actively interacting with project managers to inform them of overdue tasks, schedule constraints, & requests from project stakeholders, and provide updates to their current workload & task management
- 5. Listening to meetings to assign tasks to people with target dates, send out actions and follow-ups
The future of AI in Project Management – are you ready?
Organizations & project managers need to be prepared for the new AI era where humans & machines will collaborate to deliver projects, execute strategies & provide insights to key stakeholders. PwC research has found that, while 73% of people don’t believe that technology can replace human mind entirely, the synergies of collaboration between two are clear. Automation, including robotics & AI is advancing quickly & has the power not only to change the types of jobs we do, but also to alter how many jobs there are and how we value them. The recent PwC report ‘The Workforce of the Future: Middle East Edition‘ revealed that the ‘Brains & bots in collaboration’ category has a high risk of reducing the number of human jobs & replacing them with technology, with the Middle East having a higher risk than the world as a whole in 86% of the areas questioned. Crucially, less than 28% of Middle Eastern respondents were exploring how robotics & AI could enable the redesign of human work in their organization, compared with 40% globally.
Project Managers of the future
Will AI replace project managers?
According to PwC’s ‘The Workforce of the Future’ survey, 73% of people think technology can never replace the human mind. Indeed, AI tools rely heavily on data input from project leaders & without guidance, AI systems will not be able to perform distinctly.
Both AI & 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 not inoperative without input & added value of skilled project manager.
Traits of future project managers
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 the ’21st century skills’. The use of AI will also require a diverse & flexible skill set to be able to cope with future challenges.
According to research commissioned by APM & undertaken by PwC (a study contribution of project management & projects to the UK’s economy & society – ‘The Golden Thread’) the most important skills are: leadership & management skills, budgeting & financial management, planning & monitoring, along with strategic management, digital skills & risk /opportunity management – rated as important by more than 80% of businesses.
As awareness of the profession continues to increase, it is expected that a greater proportion of project work will earn more distinct attribution for the profession itself, giving more recognition & appreciation to the role of the project manager.
The organization’s role in the new AI era
Organizations will require a mix of traditional business & management skills, technical & digital skills. They need to create a culture that embraces disruption as an opportunity to achieve success. Furthermore, they need to revisit the processes & methodologies used to ensure greater agility & flexibility.
Accienta main take away on this article:
This article maybe related to project management adaptability to AI and the disruption that will take place with project managers but overall, it also talks about technology in general and how we will all cope up with the massive changes & shifts of these disruptive technologies. To adapt to the changes, we all must shift the mindset to change and not be hesitant with the unfamiliarity of ‘digital transformation’. With an understanding of what ‘digital transformation’ can do on your workforce is crucial for successful implementation & realization of benefits.
Know that ‘digital transformation’ relies on organization’s ability to integrate technology rapidly & tools are evolving. Technology disruptors are coming whether we are ready for it or not. It is important that we prepare now, as early adopters will gain a competitive advantage in the ecosystem of the future.
Here are the key actions we need to do (based from PwC ‘The Workforce of the Future: Middle East edition’, 2019′)
- 1. Assess your organization’s readiness
- 2. Update your business strategy to embrace ‘digital transformation’
- 3. Promote creativity, design thinking, leadership skills & innovation
- 4. Leverage technology by being prepared to invest in technology to improve business processes & increase efficiency
- 5. Increase awareness of digitization & introduction of ‘digital transformation’
- 6. Integrate digital technology within the learning & development agenda
Article from PwC ‘A Virtual Partnership? | How Artificial Intelligence will disrupt Project Management & change the role of Project Managers